Look to your mailbox and inbox for the arrival of the VWC winter newsletter. Lots of updates on our work.
Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine recognized Executive Director, Mark Miller, as an Outdoor All-Star in the September 27, 2019 article by HART FOWLER.
Mark Miller has been an outdoor adventurer since he was 4 and took his first solo-hike in Minnesota. That earned him a good whipping from his parents but also a lifelong love for the outdoors.
“By the time I was thirteen, I was free ranging up to twenty miles from home in what later became known as the Boundary Waters,” says Miller.
Miller got involved in conservation after writing a hiking guide called Wilderness Virginia in the early 90s. “In compiling that book, I was able to travel to all the designated Wilderness in Virginia.”
Soon after publishing the guide, Miller was asked to join the Virginia Wilderness Committee, where he now serves as Executive Director.
His work was instrumental in passing the Wilderness Bill in 2001 protecting The Priest and Three Ridges mountains, and he also helped work on the Omnibus Lands Act signed into law in 2009 protecting millions of acres across the US.
But equally rewarding to Miller is the hard work of maintaining the six-mile Rich Hole Trail in the Rich Hole Wilderness using only hand tools.
“Getting into the woods whether it is for work or pleasure is basically all the same. It is being in the woods and the woods are I place I love to be. It is such an integral part of who I am.”
Beartown Wilderness is one of his all-time favorite places to be. “The area on the summit of Garden Mountain is magical,” he says. A close second is Beartown Mountain in the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Both places are tough to get to. You really have to want to make the hike to see these spots as it involves a lot of bushwhacking, but they are worth the effort.”
Click here read about the other recognized Outdoor All-Stars.
There is a very real opportunity to secure permanent and full funding of $900M per year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), before Congress adjourns in December. VWC encourages you to reach out to your elected officials and ask them to support Senate bill 1081 and House bill HR 3195, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established to improve and protect federal public lands and water. Since its inception in 1965, it has enjoyed bipartisan support. LWCF transfers fees paid by companies drilling for oil and gas in U.S waters into a fund through which they are then directed to public parks, conservation projects, and the protection of Wilderness areas for the enjoyment of all Americans. Its impact has been widespread and crucial to saving many of our most cherished open spaces. All fifty states have benefitted from LWCF.
LWCF is authorized to receive $900M per year to carry out its mission. Notwithstanding, nearly every year Congress has diverted funds to other uses. LWCF needs full and permanent funding to ensure it can adequately conserve the land we love and enhance access to outdoor recreation for all Americans. In the program’s 55-year history it has received full funding on only two occasions.
In February 2019 an overwhelming majority of Congress passed S 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which provides for the permanent authorization of LWCF. Now that the program is protected, it is time to secure its permanent and full funding to fulfill the promise of the John Dingell Act. As of October 15, there are 215 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Americans can all agree that the LWCF has been a valuable conservation tool in the protection of our open spaces for the last 55 years.
The following Virginia representatives and senators have cosponsored this bill:
Rep. Luria, Elaine G. [D-VA-2]
Rep. Scott, Robert C. "Bobby" [D-VA-3]
Rep. McEachin, A. Donald [D-VA-4]
Rep. Riggleman, Denver [R-VA-5]
Rep. Spanberger, Abigail Davis [D-VA-7]
Rep. Beyer, Donald S., Jr. [D-VA-8]
Rep. Wexton, Jennifer [D-VA-10]
Rep. Connolly, Gerald E. [D-VA-11]
Sen. Warner, Mark R. [D-VA]
Sen. Kaine, Tim [D-VA]
If your Representative has signed on, please thank them for their support and ask them to help pass full, permanent funding of LWCF before the end of the year. If they have not signed on, please contact them and let them know how much you and the state of Virginia has benefitted from the LWCF.
According to the Land & Water Conservation Fund Coalition’s website:
Virginia has received approximately $360.8 million in LWCF funding over the past four decades, protecting places such as the Rappahannock River Valley and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuges, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Historic District, and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail as well as sites funded under the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program.
For more information about Virginia’s benefits, check here.
Help collect native seeds in Shenandoah National Park with our friends at Appalachian Conservation Corps.