The Virginia Wilderness Additions Act passed through the U.S. Senate unanimously on January 6. The act aims to increase the expanse of Rough Mountain Wilderness and Rich Hole Wilderness in Bath County by 5,600 acres. These two wilderness areas fall within George Washington National Forest.
Wilderness designation is the highest form of protection afforded to federal lands. The bill was originally sponsored by Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, and is now in the hands of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“We’re so thankful to the folks from the U.S. Forest Service, conservationists, and leaders in Bath County for their collaborative efforts to make this happen,” said the senators in a statement.
Mark Miller, executive director of the Virginia Wilderness Committee, has pushed for this bill since its inception. “When nature conservancies work with national forest services, as we have done for this bill, we tend to have greater impact,” he says. — By Finn Halloran