Our July 2015 newsletter is hot off the press! Read about what a good year it's been for VWC, get an update on our work with stakeholders, and hear from Chris Walder Bolgiano, VWC's new president.
Join us on Sat., June 27 at 10 am at the Dickerman Farm, 228 Old Parkersburg Turnpike, Swoope, VA 24479 (From Churchville, take Rt. 42 S 6 mi. through Buffalo Gap; turn right on Rt. 688 (Old Parkersburg Turnpike) at Presbyterian Church; go about .8 mile, then left into the Dickerman farm road, marked by ribbons). We’ll discuss stakeholder strategies, the Shenandoah Mtn. National Scenic Area, new Wilderness possibilities, 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.
The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition has written a letter to the Governor reminding him of his promise to make the Atlantic Coast Pipeline the most environmentally responsible pipeline project in the history of the United States. Please show your support for the DPMC by contacting the Governor and asking him to direct the Department of Environmental Quality to require site-specific erosion control and stormwater management plans for the pipeline, and to make records of Dominion's compliance with Virginia's laws and regulations available to the public and our local representatives. As it stands now, the DEQ doesn’t plan to request these critical plans and Dominion doesn’t plan to provide them, making transparency and accountability impossible.
On May 16th the long awaited draft Environmental Assessment for the Lower Cowpasture Restoration and Management Project (LC) was released by the Forest Service (FS). The LC is the first landscape scale project to be completed under the newly Revised George Washington National Forest Management Plan. It is also the largest project to come out of project planning in decades.
In 2011 the Virginia Wilderness Committee (VWC) invited other National Forest Stakeholder to come together to discuss GWNF management issues. The resulting agreement supported by conservationist, timber, games and recreation interests called for significant additions to the Rich Hole and Rough Mountain Wildernesses. It also requested that the agency begin landscape scale planning for project implementation. Stakeholders agreed to work with each other and with the FS to ensure that impediments to project planning would be reduced through continued dialogue and collaboration.
The LC was kicked off in April, 2013 with a public meeting in Millboro, Virginia. The project included
recommendations for timber harvest levels, wildlife openings, stream restoration projects, prescribed fire,
closures of illegal road, trail construction, and wilderness additions. As the project moved forward an American
Chestnut Restoration component was added.
The draft EA proposes over 3500 acres of active management activity on the 78,000 acre project area, including regeneration harvesting and thinning. Some the harvest units would also include study areas to determine the effects of biomass harvest on soils quality. This will be the first such study in the central Appalachians. It also calls for the construction of over fourteen miles of new trail, closure of nineteen unauthorized roads, stream bank stabilization on Simpson Creek, as well as recognition of the importance of wilderness as part of a forest
The Revised Management Plan calls for a 4,616 acre addition to the Rich Hole Wilderness, almost doubling its size to over 11,000 acres and a 1,022 acre addition to the Rough Mountain Wilderness bringing it over 10,400 acres. Combined, these two wilderness areas will create a nearly contiguous 22,000 acre wilderness landscape, one of the largest wilderness blocks in the eastern United States.
Your help is need today to ensure that the LC becomes a reality and thus allows the VWC to begin a legislative process to ensure that these two additions are added to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Please contact the FS and express your support for the Lower Cowpasture Restoration and Management Project.
For information on the LC and other projects we are involved with, please contact our Field Director, Mark
Miller at (540) 464-1661 or email@example.com
Send comments to the FS in one of the following ways:
Oral or mailed comments must be received within our normal business hours of 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday
through Friday, excluding holidays.
Please state "Lower Cowpasture Project" in the subject line when providing electronic comments, or on the
envelope when replying by mail.
Comments are due by June 15, 2015
On Feb. 27, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). FERC is requesting public comments on environmental issues related to the pipeline. The deadline is April 28, 2015.
Dominion has just submitted a new map showing up to 9 ACP alternatives, most of which have not been seen by the public before. Dominion has not yet provided detailed maps for these new alternatives, but some of them pass dangerously close to or directly through special natural areas on our public lands and threaten the tremendous biodiversity found in these special places.
See FERC's complete notice which includes Dominion's maps.
Don't miss this critical opportunity to voice your personal concerns about the pipeline, either in writing or verbally. Include the docket number for the ACP Project: PF15-6. Be sure to express your concerns about environmental impacts, and ask for a 60-day extension. The public needs more time to study and evaluate the new alternatives.
Deadline for all comments: April 28, 2015:
Kimberly Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 204226
Go to www.ferc.gov, under Documents and Filing. Use eComment feature if you have a simple text message or eRegister to send attachments, such as Word, pdf, and images.
Speak up in person
Public meetings in Virginia:
March 12 at 7:00 p.m. at Chesapeake
March 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Dinwiddie
March 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Farmville
March 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Lovingston
March 19 at 7:00 p.m. Stuarts Draft High School, 1028 Augusta Farms Rd., Stuarts Draft.
See a complete list of public meetings and specific locations.
Here are some possible points relating to environmental concerns on public lands. Now that there are multiple alternatives, the concerns are multiplied. We will list a few. The pipeline would:
Make your comments as specific as possible and base them on your own experiences and appreciation of public lands along the pipeline route. Ask that Dominion consider co-locating the ACP with existing gas pipelines rather than putting it in a totally new location with huge unacceptable impacts.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, has applied for a special use permit to survey a route across the George Washington National Forest! The Forest Service is asking for public comment on whether to allow this survey across our public lands. The Virginia Wilderness Committee opposes the construction of the pipeline because of the inevitable damage it would cause to the ecological integrity and scenic beauty of the national forest lands it passes through. To learn more about the pipeline project, please see our pipeline page.
Public comment on the pipeline survey permit is DUE ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 9, 2015. There are several ways to contact the Forest Service, including via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and fax (540-265-5145). More information such as maps and the Forest Supervisor's letter requesting comment is available on the Forest Service's pipeline project website.
Please take a moment to let the Forest Service know your thoughts and concerns about the construction of the pipeline and the impact it would have on our public lands.
After years of delay, the George Washington National Forest (GWNF) has released its final Land Management Plan, which will guide land use decisions for the next decade on 1.1 million acres of federal land in western Virginia.
“We applaud the U.S. Forest Service for its commitment to environmental protection,” said Jeremy Boggs, president of the Virginia Wilderness Committee (VWC), a grass roots conservation group. “The plan’s recommendations for 27,200 acres of Wilderness and 67,000 acres of National Scenic Area offer permanent protection for some of the most pristine, natural places left in Virginia. We are particularly excited to see the proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area incorporated into the plan, and want to thank the Forest Service for working with our group and other forest stakeholders.”
Wilderness Areas and National Scenic Areas are legal designations on federally owned lands that confer high levels of permanent protection. Such areas must be defined in a bill passed by Congress. The VWC, founded in 1969, has supported past legislation that led to the designation of six Wildernesses and one National Scenic Area in the GWNF. Altogether, this acreage covers less than 5 percent of the GWNF, while the national average for Wilderness Areas in national forests is 18%.
Wilderness designation prohibits mining, gas drilling, and road building, but allows hunting, fishing, and hiking. "Wilderness Areas help provide the backbone of our rich hunting and fishing traditions,” said Peter Barlow, a hunter and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official.
Logging is also prohibited in Wilderness Areas. “Large undisturbed forest areas will help make our local ecosystems resilient as conditions change,” said Rick Webb, a senior scientist at UVA. “Plus they provide critical benefits such clean air and drinking water.”
Thousands of Shenandoah Valley residents drink water from streams coming out of recommended Wilderness Areas. Ultimately, millions of people live downstream of the many rivers that have headwaters in the GWNF.
National Scenic Area designation is less restrictive than Wilderness, and allows roads and other infrastructure. “We support keeping the existing public roads on Shenandoah Mountain open,” said VWC’s Boggs, “and the areas recommended for Wilderness designations don’t have any roads. They offer opportunities for solitude and connection with nature that other places can’t.”
Contact: Jeremy Boggs, P.O. Box 4586, Charlottesville, VA 22905
Phone: (434) 242-4707 email: email@example.com
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.