Here is his obituary:
Obituary information for Joseph James "Jim" Murray, Jr. (hillandwood.com)
With great sadness, we share the passing of Jim Murray. Jim was a founding member of the Virginia Wilderness Committee, serving as our president in 1970 and again from 1997 to 2007, as well as on the board for the past 54 years. He was a lifelong conservationist and a force for Wilderness in Virginia 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). He will be missed by the entire Virginia Wilderness community.
Here is his obituary:
Obituary information for Joseph James "Jim" Murray, Jr. (hillandwood.com)
The Virginia Wilderness Committee seeks a new Executive Director. A position description is below.
VWC aspires to be inclusive in its work and in the kind of organization we are. This means listening to different points of view, recognizing the contributions of every employee, and empowering each employee to bring their whole self to work every day. Externally this means ensuring public lands are inclusive and welcoming, so our shared wildlands can help people and nature to thrive. VWC is committed to equity throughout its work, which we define as our commitment to realizing the promise of our public lands and ensuring all can share in their universal benefits. We are an equal opportunity employer and actively work to ensure fair treatment of our employees and constituents across cultures, socioeconomic status, race, marital or family situation, gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs, physical ability, veteran status, or sexual orientation.
The successful candidate will be paid in the $70,000 to $80,000 range. This is planned as a fulltime position but less than fulltime will be considered at a lower salary for the right candidate. Benefits will include generous personal time, health insurance, and a modest 401k contribution. The executive director will have a home office. VWC will share in office costs.
The executive director will preferably live in close proximity to Virginia’s public land base.
The position will remain open until filled. A start date in the fall of 2023 is desired.
John D. Hutchinson V, VWC Board President
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 27, 2023
CONTACT: Valeria Rivadeneira (Warner), 202-228-6884, Janine Kritschgau (Kaine), 202-365-2176
KAINE & WARNER REINTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO FORM NATIONAL SCENIC AREA IN ROCKINGHAM, AUGUSTA, AND HIGHLAND COUNTIES
Bill would boost local economies, protect drinking water sources, and preserve endangered wildlife
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine led the introduction of the Shenandoah Mountain Act, legislation to establish a 92,562-acre Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area (SMNSA) in Rockingham, Augusta, and Highland counties. He was joined in introducing the legislation by Senator Mark R. Warner. National Scenic Areas are established by Congress to protect the scenic, historic, recreational and natural resources in specific areas, while allowing compatible uses such as outdoor recreation activities.
“The Shenandoah Mountain area is home to critical watersheds, flourishing wildlife, and some of our Commonwealth’s most beautiful landscapes. Last year, I was so excited to hike Ramsey’s Draft to see the beauty of the area first hand,” said Kaine. “Creating a National Scenic Area would help protect the Mountain and the George Washington National Forest, spur economic growth in the Valley, and help ensure Virginians and visitors can enjoy the region for generations to come.”
“The Shenandoah Mountain area provides so much for the Valley – a thriving tourism attraction, an essential source of drinking water, and a beloved locale for idyllic hiking and fishing,” said Warner. “I’m fighting to establish a Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area to protect the region for the many families, businesses, and species that rely on it.”
The SMNSA encompasses four Wilderness areas: Skidmore Fork, Little River, Ramsey’s Draft, and Lynn Hollow, which in sum include 10 peaks above 4,000 feet and 150 miles of trails to attract campers, hikers, mountain bikers, fishermen, birders, and equestrians. The legislation also establishes a 5,779-acre wilderness area at Beech Lick Knob, located 10 miles north of the SMNSA.
In addition to providing world class trails, the area includes headwaters for the Potomac and James Rivers and watersheds that provide municipal drinking water sources for Harrisonburg, Staunton, and communities farther downstream. Cold mountain streams in the area are also a stronghold for native brook trout. Today’s legislation would permanently protect those rivers and streams from industrial development, and also help safeguard populations of at-risk species, such as the Cow Knob and Shenandoah Mountain Salamander, that are natural to the area.
In 2021, the tourism economy directly employed 6,543 people and generated $728.5 million in expenditures in Augusta, Rockingham, Bath, and Highland Counties, as well as Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro. In addition to the direct benefits to tourism and other businesses, JMU scientists estimate that lands within the SMNSA proposal already generate $13.7 million per year in other local benefits, including the value of the water supply and energy savings. Designation of the SMNSA would further grow this value.
In May 2022, Senator Kaine hiked the Shenandoah Mountain trail to learn more about the scenic area and the need to protect it. A high-quality photo of Senator Warner visiting the Shenandoah Mountain area is available here.
In addition to Staunton, Augusta, Rockingham, and Harrisonburg local governments, over 400 businesses and organizations have endorsed the designation. A full list of supporters is available here.
Full text of the legislation is available here.
Press Release from the Southern Environmental Law Center, Friends of Shenandoah Mountain, and Virginia Wilderness Committee
For Immediate Release: July 27, 2023
Eric Hilt, Southern Environmental Law Center, 615-622-1199 or email@example.com
Lynn Cameron, Friends of Shenandoah Mountain, 540-234-6273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON D.C. — On Thursday, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Shenandoah Mountain Act of 2023, which would designate more than 92,000 acres of the George Washington National Forest as the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area. Like last year’s version, the bill, if enacted, would preserve the majestic forests, spectacular vistas, and more than 150 miles of trails on the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley.
The new designation would allow forest visitors to continue enjoying these incredible lands – which are separate from and to the west of Shenandoah National Park [EH1] – as they do today, while prohibiting logging and industrial development like gas drilling and pipeline construction.
“National Scenic Areas strike a great balance between recreation and preservation,” Friends of Shenandoah Mountain Co-Chair Lynn Cameron said. “This unique designation ensures that hunters, hikers, anglers, mountain bikers, and many others will be able to continue to enjoy the exceptional landscapes for generations to come.”
“The Shenandoah Mountain area is one of the largest stretches of undeveloped land east of the Mississippi River, and boasts some of the most spectacular, uninterrupted views in the Southern Appalachians,” Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Kristin Davis said. “Designating this as a National Scenic Area will protect these incredible public lands and all they have to offer.”
The proposal is the product of two decades of work and has broad public support from more than 400 local businesses, organizations, and faith groups who recognize the immense benefits the new designation will have on nearby communities. Rockingham and Augusta Counties, as well as the nearby cities of Staunton and Harrisonburg, have also endorsed the proposal. The U.S. Forest Service has recommended the designation of a national scenic and wilderness areas on Shenandoah Mountain.
“This bill is the product of 20 years of collaborative work from an incredibly diverse group of local conservationists, recreation groups, timber industry representatives, hunters, and anglers. Over that time, people with different outlooks on forest management came together and agreed that this exceptional place deserves the permanent protection that a National Scenic Area will provide,” Friends of Shenandoah Mountain Co-Chair Thomas Jenkins said.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation estimates people visiting counties near Shenandoah Mountain spend more than $720 million a year and that the tourism industry employs more than 6,500 people. The Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area will attract even more visitors and provide a boost to the region’s growing tourism industry. The designation will also protect important drinking water sources for people living in Harrisonburg, Staunton, and many other communities downstream.
The Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area would also include four Wilderness Areas, totaling around 28,000 acres of new Wilderness, which would have the highest level of protection public lands can receive. Wilderness Areas are popular among people in the South, and a recent study showed 88 percent of Southerners surveyed said they support more Wilderness designations.
“Wilderness Areas are some of the nation’s least developed lands and offer a one-of-a-kind experience to visitors looking for solitude. These protections are becoming increasingly important as more and more areas – especially in the Eastern U.S. – are being rapidly developed, leaving fewer pristine and untouched landscapes,” Mark Miller, Executive Director of the Virginia Wilderness Committee, said.
Important natural resources would also be protected by Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area, which lies within a biodiversity hotspot. The area is home to black bear, wild turkey, more than 250 species of birds, and many other species, including rare or endangered species that only live in the Shenandoah Mountain area. Creating this designation would help preserve these habitats, allowing visitors to continue to enjoy the plants and animals that make this area unique.
The introduction of the Shenandoah Mountain Act of 2023 in the United States Senate is just the first step in establishing these much-needed protections for this extraordinary area. In order to permanently protect Shenandoah Mountain, Congress must pass this important bill, and send it to the President for his signature.
Wilderness and National Scenic Area FAQs
Some of our most spectacular federal lands are designated as National Scenic Areas and Wilderness areas. While there are some key differences between them, there are many similarities:
Wilderness is the highest level of protection available for public land. Wilderness areas are some of the nation’s most remote and least developed places. They have a natural character, and the imprint of any prior land uses is substantially unnoticeable.
Please join us for the
Virginia Wilderness Committee
Saturday, August 12
Braley Pond Day Use Area
West Augusta, VA
All members are invited!
Meeting will include the election of officers, annual report, and updates on our Wilderness efforts. Bring a camp chair and a thirst for the inspiration of wild places!
Directions: Braley Pond is located 19 miles west of Staunton. Take Route 250 west to Route 715. Turn right and watch for the sign for Braley Pond on the left.
The Forest Service has published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, inviting public comment on the following topic:
Given that climate change and related stressors are resulting in increasing impacts with rapid and variable rates of change on national forests and grasslands, how should the Forest Service adapt current policies to protect, conserve, and manage the national forests and grasslands for climate resilience, so that the Agency can provide for ecological integrity and support social and economic sustainability over time?
Please consider letting the Forest Service know that protecting old growth forests will promote climate resilience. They are accepting comments until July 20, 2023.
What are the special values [of old growth]? Most of us have long valued stands of mature, tall, large diameter trees on our national forest, for their aesthetic and their recreational values, plus their superior characteristics in providing food for various wildlife species, in ability to purify the air, in preventing erosion and at the same time enabling the soil to retain, then slowly release precipitation, in harboring increased microscopic life in the undisturbed soil (the basic element in the food chain), and other factors that biologists with their scientific understanding know.
-Ernie Dickerman, February 1998
You may send comments by any of the following methods by July 20.
Preferred: Federal eRulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov .
Mail: Director, Policy Office, 201 14th Street SW, Mailstop 1108, Washington, DC 20250–1124.
Date: Sat., June 3 (Rain date - June 4)
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (give 1 hour of your time)
Place: Mile-a-Minute patch on Hankey Mountain (see map along with detailed route instructions below)
Who: We need 50 Wild Oak Trail users to help pull a patch of Mile-a-Minute vine, a fast-spreading, high-priority, non-native invasive plant, before it spreads along the trail network and into the special natural areas in the proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area (SMNSA).
In September, a trail user discovered a patch of Mile-a-Minute Vine on Hankey Mountain. This is the first known occurrence of this invasive plant in the proposed SMNSA. This vine can grow up to 26 feet a year, smother out native plants, and ruin our forests. It is called "Kudzu of the north".
Trail users can spread invasives like this when we pick up seeds in our boot treads, bike tires, and horse hooves and unintentionally drop them along trails. We are asking all trail users - hikers, bikers, equestrians, trail runners, and hunters - to gather on Hankey Mountain on June 3 to stop this unwanted invasive in its tracks before it spreads to other trails and natural areas.
The Mile-a-Minute patch is on both sides of the Wild Oak National Recreation Trail near the summit of Hankey Mountain. It is 4 miles from North River Campground, and it can also be accessed from several other trail heads, described in detail below. We invite participants to hike, bike, run, or ride a horse to the patch, pull Mile-a-Minute for 1 hour, and then continue your day of recreation and fun. People with 4WD vehicles can drive most of the way using FR 425 from North River Campground.
We will have a Virginia Native Plant Society expert at the infestation to instruct participants in identification of Mile-a-Minute and assign each person an area to pull.
In addition to wiping out this patch of Mile-a-Minute, we want as many trail users as possible to learn to identify and report new occurrences of this plant while they are small and easy to control.
Please join this collective effort to evict this notorious plant from the Shenandoah Mountain area.
Questions? Contact Lynn Cameron, (540) 830-4524.
Together we can do this!
MARCH 09 2023
Warner & Kaine Reintroduce Bill to Protect Wilderness in Bath County | 2023-03-09 (senate.gov)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine reintroduced the Virginia Wilderness Additions Act, legislation that would add a total of 5,600 acres to the existing Rough Mountain and Rich Hole wilderness areas within the George Washington National Forest in Bath County, Virginia.
“It’s crucial that we preserve Virginia’s natural treasures, which are essential to the economy and way of life in communities across the Commonwealth,” the senators said. “We’re thankful for the input, advice, and good-faith work by local officials and conservationists who have come together over the years to create this plan to better preserve land within the George Washington National Forest. We look forward to continuing to work together to include this legislation in this year’s Farm Bill so we can get it across the finish line.”
A wilderness designation is the highest level of protection for public land under federal law. These additions were recommended by the U.S. Forest Service in 2014 and endorsed by members of the George Washington National Forest Stakeholder Collaborative, a group of forest users that started work together over a decade ago to agree on acceptable locations in the George Washington National Forest for wilderness, timber harvest, trails, and other uses.
The Farm Bill is a multiyear government funding bill for programs pertaining to conservation, crops, and nutrition, among others. Congress is expected to pass a Farm Bill in 2023.
In each of the last three Congresses, the legislation has passed through one chamber, either the Senate or the House of Representatives, but has yet to pass through the both chambers during a single session. In January 2020, as part of the 116th Congress, the Senate passed Warner and Kaine’s bill, but the legislation was not taken up in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the 117th Congress, the House passed a version of this bill as part of broader package of environmental bills, but it was not taken up in the Senate.
Full text of the legislation is available here.
Interested in Wilderness in Virginia? We are happy to come out and talk about what Wilderness is, where to find it in Virginia, and all we do to protect it. Email email@example.com for more information.
VWC is a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law
© Virginia Wilderness Committee, 2013
Virginia Wilderness Committee
P.O. Box 1235
Lexington, VA 24450