Read Chris' summary of the National Wilderness Conference.
Chris Bolgiano, VWC Board member and writer on Southern Appalachian forestry and wildlife, presented the dark side of Appalachian history and the subsequent need for Wilderness at the National Wilderness Conference in Albuquerque, NM on Oct. 16, 2014. A week earlier, she had backpacked into the Gila Wilderness, America's first Wilderness Area, protected by Aldo Leopold in 1924. She considers that her best career move to date. Chris' presentation was "Developing a Southern Appalachian WWIMBY* Response: Welcoming Wilderness in My Back Yard".
Read Chris' summary of the National Wilderness Conference.
Ed Zahniser, son of Howard Zahniser (the father of The Wilderness Act), and an eloquent and passionate Wilderness champion in his own right, gave a powerful talk, "Born To Be Wild: The 1964 Wilderness Act and the Appalachian Trail," in Roanoke at the Taubman Museum of Art on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. His talk was part of the Roanoke Weekend for Wilderness sponsored by the Appalachian Trail Conference. Ed Zahniser has graciously allowed the VaWild50 committee to share his inspiring speech.
Read text of Zahniser speech.
Today, shortly after Dominion announced their decision to move forward with the interstate gas transmission pipeline in partnership with Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and AGL, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced his full support for the project.
The pipeline would permanently fragment some of the best of what is left of Virginia’s wild heritage as it passes through 26 miles of the George Washington National Forest, cutting through areas that offer some of the best backcountry recreational opportunities in Virginia, if not the entire mid-Atlantic region.
Most troubling is the impact to the proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area, a project with wide community support for permanent Congressional designation. The route will also have an impact on Signal Corps Knob (home to the rare and sensitive Cow Knob Salamander), native trout streams (including Ramseys Draft, Calfpasture River, and Shaw's Fork), the scenic and popular Braley Pond Recreation Area, and the Grouse Habitat Management area on Hankey Mountain.
You can help stop the pipeline! Write or call Governor McAuliffe and let him know you are disappointed with his support for the pipeline.
Shenandoah National Park is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Check out their offering of special events from August 30 - September 7!
Shenandoah National Park Wilderness Week
August 30 - September 7
It's all about Wilderness this week. Ranger talks, walks, hikes, demonstrations, and more! A Wilderness film festival. Wilderness Junior Ranger programs. Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act with us! See a detailed list of what we have planned for the nine-day celebration.
Rose River Wilderness Hike
August 30, September 1, September 5, September 7
Explore the benefits of designation Wilderness on this hike through a part of Shenandoah's Wilderness. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Meet at Fishers Gap Overlook (mile 49.3), 4 hrs, moderate, 4-mile hike.
Chimney Rock Hike
August 16, August 31, September 3, September 6
Discover Shenandoah's Wilderness on this hike with great views and compelling geology. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Meet at Riprap parking area (mile 90), 3 hrs, moderate, 3.4-mile hike.
Celebrating Wilderness Through Nature's "WILD" Symphonies
September 2, September 4
Location: Fishers Gap Overlook (mile 49.3)
Explore the power and value of natural sound as we head in the Wilds of Shenandoah. We will be stopping along our route to document and record various soundscapes that will be added to the park's natural sounds library. Wear sturdy shoes and pack water, lunch, and snacks. Meet at Fishers Gap Overlook (mile 49.3), 4 hrs, moderate, 2.5-mile hike.
Celebrating Wilderness Through Photography- FULL
September 6, 2014
9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Join professional photographers Rob and Ann Simpson to learn skills that will help you capture your nature and wilderness experiences through photography. Participants will practice a variety of photography techniques including scenic, macro, and telephotography. Participants should bring their own camera equipment. Any type of camera, including point-and-shoot, are welcome. Tripods are recommended but not required. The seminar is FREE with your paid park entrance fee but space is limited to 25 participants, ages 12 and up. Pre-registration is required. To register for the seminar or for more information, contact the park's Education Office by phone: 540-999-3500, ext. 3489, or by email: email@example.com. (Click here to download more information.)
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.