West Virginians for Public Lands – September 2018
Last Chance for Land & Water Conservation Fund
New River Gorge National Park?
Initial plans for a redesignation of the New River Gorge National River as a full-fledged National Park were covered in the Charleston and Beckley papers this month. The initiative is being led by rafting outfitters, local governments, and visitor bureaus excited about the potential tourism increase the National Park brand could bring to southern West Virginia.
WV Rivers is committed to meeting with stakeholders to learn more about the proposal. Do you have questions about what a National Park would mean for the New River Gorge? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll bring those forward in our meetings.
Make Your Voice Heard: Public Comment Periods
Public comment opportunities are an important way you can participate in public lands management. There are a number of important comment periods open.
Tongass Roadless Rule. The Forest Service is considering exemptions for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska from the 2001 Roadless Rule, which prohibits new road building in backcountry areas of our public lands. New roads are expensive for the Forest Service to build and maintain, and are vectors for invasive species and increased commercial development. Exceptions for one state could trickle throughout the Forest Service and potentially threaten roadless areas in West Virginia like Seneca Creek, Roaring Plains, or Tea Creek. Comment here.
Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monument. After the Trump Administration’s review of National Monuments, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears were shrunk by millions of acres. New management plans are being developed for the remaining areas. Since they are only a fraction of their former size, stronger protections are needed for the public lands within the reduced monument boundaries. Comment here.
Monongahela National Forest. A habitat management proposal for the Spruce Mountain Grouse Management Area. More information and comment opportunity is here. A full list of all ongoing Mon Forest projects is available here.
Pipeline Roller Coaster Continues
Down trees mark the division between private land and the Monongahela National Forest in this photo from August 20 along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Legal challenges for public lands crossings of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines continue. As of press time, work is stopped again on the Monongahela National Forest. The federal 4th Circuit Court will hear additional arguments in cases this week and next on Forest Service permits. Keep up to date on the pipelines here and here.
Explore: Upcoming Outings and Events on Public Lands
September 29: Support Watoga State Park Foundation’s raffle at Marlinton’s annual Roadkill Cookoff.
September 29: “The Last Hunt” living history presentation by renowned reenactor Doug Wood at Sandstone Visitor Center, New River Gorge.
September 30: Learn around the goats managing invasive plants in the New River Gorge at Thurmond with Active Southern WV.
October 5-6: WV Highlands Conservancy’s Fall Review.
October 6: Join Friends of Blackwater and the Forest Service for a clean up and trail maintenance in the Otter Creek Wilderness.
October 13: WV Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Fall Foliage Hike in Grandview, New River Gorge.