WV Public Lands Update: Senate Passes Conservation Bill, Drilling in National Forests, New NPS Chief
Senate Passes America’s Conservation Enhancement Act
We are excited to share that another big piece of conservation legislation has passed the Senate with bipartisan support. On September 16, 2020, America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE) legislative package (S. 3051) passed the Senate. Now, the Act will go on to the House, where it is expected to pass.
This Act is a big one for the hunters and anglers, wildlife lovers, as well as those working on Chesapeake Bay restoration and preservation efforts. If passed into law, the legislation would reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Water Trials Network, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and much more.
Learn more about the ACE Act here.
Administration Relaxes Rules for Oil & Gas Drilling in National Forests
On September 1, 2020, the administration released its plan to make oil and gas development easier on U.S. Forest Service Lands.
The proposed rule would further remove public input on oil and gas development decisions and weaken the Forest Service’s ability to protect our public lands from degradation.
Specifically, the rule would remove the requirement that the Forest Service office give public notice of the decision to approve a Surface Use Plan of Operations, which is a detailed plan for proposed oil and gas development.
The rule would also make it more difficult for the Forest Service to stop bad lease sales, as it would remove confirmation of consent from the agency, which is an important standard step in the leasing process. Learn more.
West Virginians should have more input, not less, when it comes to how our public lands, like the Monongahela National Forest, are managed. The public comment period for this proposed rule ends on Nov. 2 and we urge you to take ACTION.
West Virginia Native Head of National Park Service
The National Park Service has a new leader – Margaret Everson – originally from the Cheat Lake area near Morgantown, WV.
With decades of experience in natural resources management, Margaret was previously the principal deputy director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She was also Duck Unlimited’s chief policy officer for several years. Everson has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, as well as a prestigious Juris Doctorate.
In an interview with WV Public Broadcasting, Margaret explains how her values come from growing up in West Virginia – everything from exploring the woods to riding horses to shelling too many peas from the garden. So many West Virginians can relate to this upbringing we’re excited to welcome Margaret in her new role.
Monongahela National Forest Access Updates
The Forest Service continues to provide guidance on use of developed recreational sites to keep visitors safe. You can find up-to-date information about access and restrictions within the Mon National Forest here.