Wild places sustain and define us; we, in turn, must protect them.
This week, Congress finally passed the 2018 Farm Bill. As our followers know, the version of the bill initially passed by the House of Representatives included several provisions that would have had devastating effects on our public lands. Among the legislative rollbacks was language that would allow logging on up to 6,000 acres at a time with essentially no environmental review and little opportunity for public input or recourse. Contrary to much of the news coverage that described the language as being to expedite “forest thinning” projects to address wildfire concerns, the actual language would have allowed nearly any type of logging, including clearcutting, for nearly any purpose.
We are very glad to say that the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill, passed by the House and Senate this week, did not include any of the House bill’s provisions that would have weakened the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, or other bedrock environmental laws. And the Farm Bill included passage of the Tennessee Wilderness Act, which protects an additional 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as federally-designated Wilderness. The bill did not include new Wilderness designations in Virginia that had previously passed the Senate.
Many thanks are owed to Congressman Jim Comer (R) of the 1st Congressional District in western Kentucky. Representative Comer was assigned to the conference committee established to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill. In that role, Mr. Comer was one of the only Republicans to oppose the regressive public lands provisions promoted by his House colleagues. His opposition came from his commitment to ensuring that Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is protected from exploitation, and that the unique history of the land between the rivers is respected.
And thanks also to every one of you who took the time to call Congressman Comer asking him to oppose these rollbacks in public lands protections. You made a difference.
Please take a moment today to call Congressman Comer’s office at (202) 225-3115 to thank him for standing up for Land Between the Lakes and all of our public, national forest lands.
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