Environmental Group Shines Light on Federal Land Bills
A new report released Tuesday by environmental lobbyist group Environment Virginia says the future of untouched wilderness areas could be in jeopardy. The group is calling out lawmakers for legislation it calls "shocking" and "unheard of."
"There are bills pending in Congress that threaten to trash these treasures, and these must be stopped," preservation assistant Kate Dylewski said.
In 1964, the federal government set aside wilderness areas, like those in Shenandoah National Park, for protection. But new land bills could change that protection.
Among them is a bill co-sponsored by Virginia's 6th District Representative Bob Goodlatte. H.R. 1581 could open up currently protected public land to road-building operations.
"I think this Congress is overly concerned with corporate interests," Dylweski said. "I think perhaps the economy is a driving force in that."
In June, a 14-bill package of similar land legislation passed through the House. Supporters said, at the time, economic growth was one of the primary goals.
"Among its many economic and job creation benefits, the bill will encourage tourism and recreation by ensuring public access to public lands, promote responsible use of resources, protect the environment," House Natural Resources Committee Chair Doc Hastings said.
But Environment Virginia isn't buying that rhetoric.
"Whether they be Republican or Democrat or whoever, it doesn't matter," Dylewski said. "We want to make sure that people get the message to [their representatives] that these lands can't be touched, that these bills just won't fly."
The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the land bills in question.
NBC29 worked to reach representatives Robert Hurt, Eric Cantor, and Bob Goodlatte for comment. None have returned our calls.
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Ed joined the NBC29 news team in May, 2011. A Charlotte, NC, native, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science.Full Story
Ed joined the NBC29 news team in May, 2011. A Charlotte, NC, native, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story