Yesterday, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner reintroduced the Virginia Wilderness Additions Act, legislation that would add a total of 5,600 acres to two existing wilderness areas within the George Washington National Forest (GWNF) in Bath County, Virginia. 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 GWNF Stakeholder Collaborative, a group of forest users that has worked together for seven years to agree on acceptable locations in the GWNF for wilderness, timber harvest, trails, and other uses.
“These wilderness designations will preserve these beautiful wild areas of the George Washington National Forest in perpetuity,” the Senators said. “The good-faith work that went into this bill by local stakeholders shows that land-use decisions need not be adversarial and that we can provide for sustainable use of National Forest lands for many purposes while also preserving Virginia’s most treasured spaces. I’m thankful for all the local officials and conservationists who’ve worked together over the years to create this plan, and we’ll continue working to ensure this bill is signed into law.”
The Senate passed Warner and Kaine’s bill in January 2020, but the legislation was not signed into law.
The Harrisonburg City Council passed a resolution of support for the 90,000-acre Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area (SMNSA) proposal with a unanimous vote last night. The SMNSA proposal would provide Wilderness protection for Skidmore Fork, the pristine watershed that feeds Switzer Reservoir, ensuring clean water for City residents for generations to come.
The SMNSA proposal would also protect the scenic beauty and outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities that City residents and visitors to the area enjoy.
Support from local governments is crucial to introduction of federal legislation to designate the SMNSA and embedded Wilderness. By passing a resolution of support, Harrisonburg joins Rockingham County, Augusta County, and the City of Staunton in endorsing the proposal, and brings the 20-year campaign closer to fruition.
Photo of Lynn Cameron, scouting for the SMNSA 20 years ago.
What are the three closest Wilderness Areas to Staunton?
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for unanimously passing a resolution of support for the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area proposal. Their support is an important milestone in our campaign, and we are so grateful. The Rockingham County portion of the Proposal has outstanding scenic beauty, clean water for municipal use, some of the best native trout streams in our region, rare species of plants and animals, historic sites, and terrific recreational opportunities. This spectacular area is very worthy of special protection!
Photo taken by Lynn Cameron within the proposed Skidmore Fork Wilderness in the SMNSA
There's still lots of ice and snow at higher elevations and streams are running high. It is encouraged that you wear traction devices on your boots and be aware that stream crossings may be treacherous on many trails. The forecast has a wind advisory and temperatures will be in the lower 20s today and tonight.
Also included in yesterday's House bill, Protecting America's Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803), is the Great Dismal Swamp National Heritage Area Act, which highlights its historical, cultural and environmental significance to Virginians and all American people.