The Virginia Wilderness Committee has taken a position opposing the 450 mile, 42-inch diameter interstate gas transmission pipeline proposed by Dominion Resources in May 2014. The pipeline crosses the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains from WV to NC and would require the cutting of a permanently maintained 50 to 100 foot swath through 26 miles of the George Washington National Forest in Highland and Augusta counties. It would also cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail Corridor in Augusta and Nelson counties. A road would likely parallel the pipeline. This long, wide industrial zone would severely degrade some of the best remaining, least altered natural landscapes in the Eastern U.S., contained in the GWNF. Read more...
Join us on Sat., June 28 at 10 am at the Dickerman Farm, 228 Old Parkersburg Turnpike, Swoope, VA 24479, for in-depth discussions of the new plan, plus many other items of interest to all who love wild nature. Bring lunch, water, a folding chair and a need to sit under trees where Ernie Dickerman, Grandfather of Eastern Wilderness, once contemplated the greatness of Great North Mountain.
Small is beautiful in Little Dry Run Wilderness. At 2,858 acres, this complete watershed in Mt. Rogers National Recreational Area includes native brook trout, a high elevation bog and hemlock trees not yet devastated by the exotic wooly adelgid. Explore it by foot or horseback on two trails that offer access to several remote and still unnamed creeks and peaks.
Read more about Little Dry Run Wilderness.
VWC's Mark Miller and North River District Ranger Elwood Burge kicked off a large landscape level planning project for North Shenandoah Mountain by leading a field trip to the Slate Lick area on April 10. The field trip was attended by about 25 agency officials and individuals representing diverse interests, including horseback riding, game management, timber, and preservation. The main topic was invasive species in the Slate Lick area: mile-a-minute, autumn olive, Japanese stilt grass and tree of heaven, and options to control them. The group also discussed trails in the Slate Lick area, popular with equestrians, and how to improve habitat in the clearings at Slate Lick and near Hogpen Lake.
This field trip is the first of several field trips to identify management activities in the North Shenandoah Mountain project area, which includes a portion of the Lee Ranger District.
Rough Mountain Wilderness Area near Clifton Forge is true to its name: steep, dry slopes make for hard, thirsty hiking. Shale barrens with rare plants emphasize the dry nature of the mountain, yet fossilized shells recall an ancient lake. These contradictions have their rewards, which include the scenic summit of Griffith Knob and the solitude of a true Wilderness experience in one of Virginia’s largest Wildernesses (9,300 acres).
Read Mark Miller's writeup on Rough Mountain Wilderness
Read an environmental commentary by VWC board member Chris Bolgiano about growing support for our Shenandoah Mountain Proposal and how designation of the area would permanently protect it from natural gas development by fracking, in Southern Maryland Online, April 1, 2014.
Signs of the past in Kimberling Creek Wilderness Area include huge stumps of trees cut circa 1900 and remnants of the narrow gauge railroads that carried them out. Signs of the future include a second-growth forest maturing into protected old growth and the evergreen promise of rhododendron. Nearly 6,000 rough and rugged acres west of Wytheville challenge those who seek wild nature.
Read more in Mark Miller's piece on Kimberling Creek Wilderness.
Students at Eastern Mennonite University photographed Virginia Wilderness and proposed Wilderness areas for a semester project and donated their work to the Virginia Wilderness Committee. The students were enrolled in Steven D. Johnson's Fall 2013 conservation photography class.
The students hiked into the wild with their cameras in hand and captured some great shots of wildlife, plants, water, scenic views, and people enjoying Wilderness. The Virginia Wilderness Committee will use these stunning photos on our web site, in our publications, and for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act this year.
We are grateful to Professor Johnson for envisioning this project and to his students for their meaningful photos. These photos illustrate the beauty, biodiversity, and intrinsic value of Wilderness and will serve to teach and inspire all of us.
Below is a sampling of the students' work.
Building on a 45-year history of protecting Virginia's most special places, the Virginia Wilderness Committee is now actively working to protect three areas that lie within Ecological Cores identified by the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation: Beech Lick Knob, Shenandoah Mountain, and Rich Hole/Rough Mountain Wilderness additions. These are some of the Old Dominion's crown jewels when it comes to ecological diversity. Please go to our web site, join VWC, and help us protect these special places.
Note: Map generated from Virginia DCR data.
If you believe that small can be beautiful, consider Brush Mtn. East Wilderness: its 3,700 acres includes hundreds of acres of old-growth forest and more than a dozen splashing headwater tributaries to Craig Creek. An old 7.5 mile section of the Appalachian Trail (since rerouted) weaves in and out of steep, rugged drainages that offer solitude and solace wrapped in small, beautiful watersheds.
Read about Brush Mountain East Wilderness