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Congressman French Hill working on bill to expand designated wilderness in his district

U.S. Rep. French Hill of Arkansas' 2nd congressional district, is working on a bill to create more wilderness in the 2nd Congressional District. He said the bill has the support of Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders.
Michael Hibblen
/
KUAR News
U.S. Rep. French Hill of Arkansas' 2nd congressional district, is working on a bill to create more wilderness in the 2nd Congressional District. He said the bill has the support of Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders.

Last month, U.S Rep. French Hill of Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District introduced the Flatside Wilderness Additions Act. The bill, if passed, would add about an additional 2,200 U.S. Forest Service acres to the Flatside Wilderness area, which is part of the Ouachita National Forest.

In an interview with KARK Channel 4’s Capitol View, Hill explained that obtaining this designation would help keep the land accessible to the public.

“It’s taking national park land and national forest land, it’s taking existing public land and designating it as wilderness. What that means in practicality is there is no road building, no motorized vehicles and it’s a hunt, fish, backpack, climb and camp in total pristine wilderness or outdoors for recreation experience,” he said.

According to Hill’s Congressional website, the bill has the support of Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders, along with support from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commision.

COVID-19 Relief Fraud

At the end of June, the U.S Small Business Administration, released a report estimating that the agency disbursed over $200 billion in potentially fraudulent COVID-19 relief programs like the Paycheck Protection.

Hill said that part of the reason why this data is available is because there were inspector generals assigned to look for this type of fraud. Hill didn’t say whether or not he believed this estimate is accurate, but he did say there was fraud within these programs.

“We clawed back $28 billion in federal money for COVID in the debt ceiling. There’s still billions of dollars in the states that are being used under Joe Biden’s rules and not Donald Trump’s rules. We need to make sure they have accountability and an inspector general approach. We’ve had issues here in Arkansas with the rental assistance program,” he said.

According to the Small Business Administration’s website, the agency disbursed about $1.2 trillion for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Ronak Patel is a reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.