Fights are festering across the country over whether to frack federal lands, with 36 million acres already under lease for oil and natural gas drilling. Habitat degradation and groundwater contamination are just a few of the problems that can result from the fossil-fuel industry camping out on public land. But Virginia’s George Washington National Forest is now mostly safe from the drill. The U.S. Forest Service recently decided to put extensive limits on fracking within the grounds—an important drinking-water source for the nation’s capital and a popular destination for Virginians who enjoy fishing, hunting, swimming, or just being in the great outdoors.
As the U.S. Department of the Interior finalizes fracking rules on millions more acres of public land, the forest named after George Washington could serve as a revolutionary example to follow.