S.1975, The Virginia Wilderness Additions Act of 2017 passed favorably out of the Senate Agriculture Committee yesterday! Thanks to those who sent in support letters on short notice.
ACTION ALERT: By Thursday (11/09) morning, tell Senator Kaine you support S.1975, The Virginia Wilderness Additions Act of 2017
Let Senator Tim Kaine know that you support S. 1975, Virginia Wilderness Additions Act of 2017: a bill to designate additions to the Rich Hole Wilderness and the Rough Mountain Wilderness of the George Washington National Forest and would like to thank him for introducing this important piece of legislation.
Please send your notes of support to Senator Kaine's office by this Thursday morning (11/9/2017).
Send comments to: Nick_Barbash@kaine.senate.gov
Senator Kaine's press release about the bill can be found here: https://www.kaine.senate.gov/press-releases/kaine-and-warner-introduce-bill-to-protect-lands-in-bath-county
ACTION ALERT: Comments due November 6th on the North Shenandoah Mountain Restoration and Management project Scoping Notice.
The U. S. Forest Service has released the long-awaited Scoping Notice for the North Shenandoah Mountain Restoration and Management project. The 103,000-acre project is located in northwestern Rockingham County and the Beech Lick Knob Wilderness candidate is within the project’s footprint.
The Virginia Wilderness Committee supports the goals of the project and the collaborative nature used for its development. The project will incorporate many different treatment options including active management activities under one large umbrella document.
If you’re interested in commenting on the project, here are a few bullet points to consider:
COMMENTS ARE DUE NOVEMBER 6th
Email comments to:
Be sure to note the name of the project in the subject line of the email (i.e. North Shenandoah Mtn. Project).
Write comments to:
USDA Forest Service
ATTN: Karen Overcash, Project Leader
5162 Valleypointe Parkway
Roanoke, VA 24019
Thank you for your help!
Photo of Beech Lick Knob Wilderness candidate by Alicia Ygarza
The Virginia Wilderness Additions Act of 2017, a bill co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner
Press Release from the Virginia Wilderness Committee
For Immediate Release: October 24, 2017
Contact: Mark Miller, Executive Director, (540) 460-0593 or email@example.com
New Bill to Expand Protected Wilderness Areas in GW National Forest
Lexington, VA – The Virginia Wilderness Additions Act of 2017, (https://www.kaine.senate.gov/press-releases/kaine-and-warner-introduce-bill-to-protect-lands-in-bath-county) a new bill introduced by Senator Tim Kaine and co-sponsored by Senator Mark Warner, would protect 5,600 acres of Virginia’s George Washington National Forest as Wilderness. Expanding the already established Rich Hole and Rough Mountain Wildernesses will create a nearly unbroken wild area of over 20,000 acres. These lands are already part of the national forest, and the Wilderness designation would permanently protect these remarkable places, located in the scenic, rugged territory surrounding Rough Mountain and Mill Mountain in southeastern Bath County.
"The introduction of this bill is the direct result of years of hard work by the George Washington National Forest Stakeholder Collaborative. The Collaborative includes representatives from a variety of interests, including the timber industry, wildlife managers, sportsman’s groups, forestry consultants, conservation organizations, and recreational groups, all of whom are working together to meet very different goals,” said Virginia Wilderness Committee Executive Director Mark Miller. “This expanded Wilderness area will benefit wildlife, water quality, recreation, and local tourism and is a win-win for all those stakeholders involved."
Wilderness areas provide excellent habitat for wildlife that benefit from large, intact areas of old growth or mature forest. The Rich Hole area, which contains beautiful old growth hardwood forests, is home to one of the largest black bear populations in Virginia.
These Wilderness additions were recommended by the U.S. Forest Service in its 2014 management plan. Both the GW Stakeholder Collaborative and Bath County, where these areas are located, support this bill.
Formed to offer input on the 2014 forest plan, the GW Stakeholder Collaborative reached consensus on a set of recommendations for protection of core, intact areas of the forest, such as these Wilderness areas, and for increased forest management in other, more accessible areas on the periphery of the forest. The collaborative continues to work together and with the U.S. Forest Service and other interested parties towards those goals.
A Forest Service project called the Lower Cowpasture Restoration and Management Project, which is now being carried out, is an example of that collaborative work. The project, located on GW Forest lands in the lower Cowpasture River watershed, provides active management in the more accessible areas of the national forest, including: timber harvest, forest restoration, prescribed fire, stream restoration, and an American Chestnut restoration site. This balanced, collaborative approach is a win-win for management, recreation, restoration and Wilderness.
FAQ For Background: What is Wilderness?
(Washington, D.C., August 21, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced Tony Tooke will serve as the new Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Tooke has worked for the Forest Service since age 18 and currently is the Regional Forester for the Southern Region. Following the announcement, Secretary Perdue this statement:
“The Forest Service will be in good hands with the U.S. Forest Service’s own Tony Tooke whose knowledge of forestry is unmatched. Tony has been preparing for this role for his whole professional life, and at a time when we face active and growing fires, his transition into leadership will be seamless. He will oversee efforts to get our forests working again, to make them more productive, and to create more jobs. His focus will be on ensuring we are good neighbors and are managing our forests effectively, efficiently, and responsibly, as well as working with states and local governments to ensure the utmost collaboration. No doubt, the stewardship of our forests is an awesome and sacred responsibility, and no one knows that better than Tony who has dedicated his career to this noble cause,” said Secretary Perdue.
Tony Tooke Biography:
Tony Tooke is the Regional Forester for the Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service. Tooke has worked for the Forest Service since age 18, including many assignments in Region 8 and the Washington Office (WO).
He is responsible for 3,100 employees, an annual budget exceeding $400 million, 14 national forests, and two managed areas, which encompass more than 13.3 million acres in 13 states and Puerto Rico.
His previous position in Washington, DC was Associate Deputy Chief for the National Forest System; with oversight of Lands and Realty, Minerals and Geology, Ecosystem Management Coordination, Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, the National Partnership Office, and Business Administration and Support Services.
As Associate Deputy Chief, Tooke was the Forest Service Executive Lead for Environmental Justice; Farm Bill implementation; and implementation of the Inventory, Monitoring, and Assessment Improvement Strategy. Another priority included implementation of a new planning rule for the National Forest System.
Also in the WO, Tooke served as Director for Ecosystem Management Coordination, Deputy Director for Economic Recovery, and Assistant Director for Forest Management.
Prior to 2006, Tooke served as Deputy Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in Florida as well as District Ranger assignments at the Talladega NF in Alabama, the Oconee NF in Georgia, and the DeSoto NF in Mississippi. His other field assignments were Timber Management Assistant, Other Resource Assistant, Silviculturist, and Forester on six Ranger Districts in Mississippi and Kentucky.
Tooke grew up on a small 200-acre farm in Detroit, AL. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Forestry from Mississippi State University. He was in the Forest Service’s inaugural class of the Senior Leadership Program, and he has completed the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program.
Please join us on Saturday, August 5 at 10 am
at the Dickerman Farm, 228 Old Parkersburg Turnpike, Swoope VA 24479
(Rt. 42, 6 mi S of Churchville, R onto Rt. 688 at church, .8 mi, then L at ribbons).
Agenda: election of officers, annual report, updates on our major Wilderness efforts, and bylaw changes.
Bring lunch, a folding chair, and a thirst for the inspiration of wild places!
See you there!
"Shenandoah Mountain: Preserving One of Virginia's Most Beautiful Places", by EMU graduate, Macson MacGuigan
VWC Board Members Lynn Cameron, Christy Bradburn, and Steve Johnson all participated in this captivating and visually stunning video on Shenandoah Mountain.
A Celebration of Bess’ life will be held on April 15, 2017 from 2:00pm-3:30pm
Education Building, Ivy Creek Natural Area, 1780 Earlysville Rd, Charlottesville VA 22903
Cards may be sent to Jim at: 1601 Bentivar Farm Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22901
Memorial contributions may be sent to:
The Virginia Wilderness Committee
P.O. Box 1235, Lexington, VA 24450
Bess Murray, one of the VWC’s most dedicated core members, died on March 31. She and Jim have been a force for Wilderness in Virginia since the VWC was formed in 1969, helping with the passage of six Wilderness bills from the first in 1975 (James River Face) through our most recent in 2009 (Ridge and Valley). Born in England, Bess met Jim over a lab bench at Oxford where they both studied. They were married in 1957 and lived at Bentivar since 1964. The Murrays hosted so many VWC meetings that Bentivar became the hub for Wilderness advocacy in Virginia.
In the early years when Bess and Jim’s three children were young, the whole family would scout wild areas and show them to Senators, Congressmen, and other decision-makers. On a trip with Rep. Jim Olin to old growth in one of our proposals, we climbed through rough terrain to find a giant hemlock. When we sat down to rest, Bess pulled out a quiche she had made that morning, using eggs from her own chickens. On another scouting hike through our proposed Little River Wilderness, Bess and Tiki jumped in Hearthstone Lake for a swim in mid-October. After the children grew up, the Murrays took dogs along on our scouting trips. Both Murrays were exceptional naturalists and could identify most everything we would see, making for a rich learning experience for the rest of us.
Bess actively recruited new members for the VWC, always willing to approach strangers with brochures in hand. Once she recruited a passerby who stopped to help them when their car broke down. Her enthusiasm for Wilderness was so contagious that they didn’t stand a chance.
Besides working for Wilderness Bess helped found Ivy Creek Foundation and served as Coordinator. She wrote for Virginia Wildlife for 10 years and broadcast the weekly “Natural History Note” on WTJU radio for 15 years. In her spare time, she raised cattle and chickens, mended fence, grew a garden, danced with Jim, travelled extensively, and much more. Bess was an extraordinary woman. We will miss her, and we will remember her.
- Lynn Cameron
Tributes from Wilderness Friends
Only coming to VWC recently I did not have the pleasure of the long association with Bess and Jim that many of you enjoyed -- and that is my great regret. My fondest memory of my short association with her was being treated to her hospitality when Jim, Chris, and I met as the 2015 VWC Nominating Committee at Bentivar. After our meeting Bess served us a delicious lunch and regailed us with delightful commentary on everything from growing much of the food there at Bentivar to a wonderful recounting of their life together with VWC. She was a truly remarkable person, incredibly knowledgeable and at the same time delightfully down to earth. The pleasure of her presence will be sorely missed. -- Bud Watson
What do I remember about Bess? She always came with food—especially the Deviled Eggs. I would frequently call the Murrays while driving home from some late night meeting in SWVA and Bess would almost always answer the phone. After a short chat, she would say, “Jim, it’s Mark” and while she handed the phone over to Jim, I knew that she was listening on the extension. I remember camping with Jim and Bess in what was to become Hunting Camp Creek Wilderness and a bear came through the campsite. Bess says, “Jim, it’s the bear again.” No panic, no fear, just a statement of fact. Bess and Jim going hiking through Hunting Camp Creek. Mind you, she had her hand in cast. I cannot remember why, but she comes out of the woods near a hunting camp without Jim in toe. Needless to say the guys in the camp where more than a bit surprised to see her walking out of the woods like it was a stroll in the park. I believe that the preservation of Virginia’s most special areas was one of Bess’ great passions. From Ivy Creek to Virginia’s Wilderness, Bess has left us a legacy like no other. A legacy of protecting our natural areas for future generations to enjoy. – Mark Miller
The first time I met Bess was up on the top of Spy Rock where the Murrays were hosting a picnic gathering in honor of Peter Kirby's 1998 AT thru hike promoting Wilderness. Bess was so welcoming to me, sharing food, enthusiasm, and enveloping me into the fold of folks who work for and require Wilderness in Virginia. Bess never missed an opportunity to educate any breathing prospect about Virginia Wilderness, and she graciously accepted pennies, and up, for the cause. I was especially enthralled by Bess's incisive comments. She went straight to the point. Though I only knew Bess through her Wilderness advocacy, I appreciate her huge contribution to educating Virginians about their natural heritage, and her significant role in helping preserve some of our most special places for its enjoyment. – Laura Neale
I met Bess and Jim Murray in the mid-1980s when I came to their old farmhouse for a meeting on Wilderness. The large stuffed black bear in their kitchen was a major attraction, but it was immediately clear that the team of Bess and Jim was an even more powerful embodiment of love and need for Wilderness. In our many meetings over the years, Bess was always demure and mostly let Jim take the lead. But when she spoke, Bess had the clear vision, the understanding of human nature, the profound love of wild nature and the absolute commitment to protecting it, that made her a trailblazer in working for Wilderness. Her guidance will be sorely missed, but the inspiration of her tireless work lives on. – Chris Bolgiano
Bess was a key partner with Jim to visit potential Wilderness and to advocate for protection with local leaders and members of Congress. – Lindsay West
Bess Murray is one of those unique individuals who will be forever remembered fondly by all who knew her. She was one of the first conservationists I met when I began working for The Nature Conservancy. Our actual connection was the Ivy Creek Natural Area, where Bess was a volunteer extraordinaire. We remained connected through our work with the VWC. She exuded humor, intelligence, grace, kindness, and a deep dedication to our natural world. Rest in peace, dear Bess. – Faye Cooper
Linda and I are saddened to learn that Bess Murray has passed on. We have known each other for many years and have fought the good battles together to keep our environment intact. She and Jim were the real stalwarts and her dedication, persistence, and competence were unsurpassed. She will be deeply missed by us all.
- Lincoln Brower and Linda Fink
Bess was a teacher and an encourager, and she helped me to be bold and speak truth to those in positions of power. She was also the provider of many road trip meals and snacks and lovely home grown dinners at Bentivar. She, with her lovely accent, was the backbone and the conscience of the Virginia wilderness movement. She and Jim together were a force to be reckoned with. – David Carr
Vote for the Virginia Wilderness Committee at REI's new DC Flagship store starting tomorrow!
Recreational Equipment Inc, or REI, is one of the many outdoor recreation businesses that support public lands stewardship through grants and their membership in the Conservation Alliance.
Visitors to REI's new DC Flagship store between March 24 and April 25 will have an opportunity to vote for the project they would like the Conservation Alliance to fund. Find VWC's display in the store and drop your ballot into a ballot box attached to the display. Votes will be tallied on April 25 and the two projects/organizations receiving the most votes will be sent to Conservation Alliance as REI/Patagonia grant endorsements.
VWC would love to receive a grant to keep protecting Virginia's wild places.
Check it out and vote early and often!
REI Washington DC Flagship Store
201 M Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
P: (202) 543-2040
Thanks REI and the Conservation Alliance!
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and public comments relating to the ACP and our National Forests are due April 10, 2017.
The proposed ACP route would cut a 21-mile permanent swath through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests. The Draft EIS prepared by FERC for the project does not provide the information needed for Forest Service decisions.
Please send in your comments to FERC and request that the Forest Service OPPOSE ANY Special Use Permit for the ACP and reject forest plan amendments. Emphasize that the DEIS is incomplete, inconsistent, and incorrect, and it does not provide adequate information for Forest Service decisions.
This story map on the 7 major Issues of the ACP route through our National Forests provides excellent background information, suggested talking points, and contact information for your comments. Check it out here: http://dpmc-gis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=bc1aadc65a6d47ae85fb01326a648673
Submit comments through FERC's online system, http://www.ferc.gov/. (Click on Documents and Filings and use the eComment feature), or send written comments to:
Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426
Be sure to reference docket number CP15-554.
Please send a copy of your letter to VWC, too. Thank you!