On February 12th, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive public lands bill, including permanent authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF is a popular program that has funded conservation projects around the country. In our local area, the connector trail from Blackwater Falls State Park to Davis was made possible by the LWCF, as was the Davis boulder park and many projects on the Monongahela National Forest.
The public lands bill (S. 47) also included an official designation for the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area. The non-profit organization Appalachian Forest Heritage Area already exists, and has taken on some of the work of historic interpretation and promotion in the area. However, a federal designation opens up more sources of support and funding, and can be used as a promotional tool for the area.
With broad bipartisan support, S. 47 passed the Senate 92 to 8, and now moves on to the House of Representatives. It is important for the bill to pass the House with no “poison pill” amendments, and we encourage you to contact your Representatives on this issue. It is likely that this bill won’t make it onto the House agenda until late February, so there is still time to make some calls.