WASHINGTON - Today, the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing to review H.R. 1011, the Virginia Ridge and Valley Act of 2007.
H.R. 1011 would designate certain lands in the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia as wilderness, wilderness study areas, and National Scenic Areas. The bill would require USDA to develop management plans and ecological restoration requirements for designated areas of the forests.
“I appreciate my friend and colleague Bob Goodlatte bringing to my attention this issue that is very important to the area of the country he represents,” Chairman Peterson said. “Even though this bill focuses on the forest lands of rural Virginia, the issues raised in today’s hearing about the suitability of wilderness designations are of concern to many parts of the country. Mr. Goodlatte has raised some valid concerns about certain parts of the Jefferson National Forest that, if designated wilderness, could limit forest flexibility, increase fire hazards and prevent good land management."
“I appreciate the Chairman's willingness to hold a hearing on this important topic. Wilderness areas have their place, but wilderness designations are also permanent. As our witnesses pointed out, there are wildfire threats, insect infestations, and recreation access issues in several of the areas proposed for wilderness designation in the bill. We must address these legitimate concerns so we don't look back in 10 years and regret the decision to create wilderness,” said Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte.
The opening statements of the witnesses are available on the Committee website, and a full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website at a later date.
· Mr. Joel Holtrop, Deputy Chief for State & Private Forestry, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
· Mr. Paul Howe, Executive Vice President, Virginia Forestry Association, Richmond, Virginia
· Mr. C. Dowd Bruton, Senior Regional Wildlife Biologist, National Wild Turkey Federation, Traphill, North Carolina
· The Honorable John A. Muffo, Virginia Board of Supervisors, Montgomery County, Virginia, Blacksburg, Virginia
· Mr. Tom R. Davenport, Business Manager, Mt. Rogers Outfitters, Damascus, Virginia