by Beth Little |
The Harmony Ridge Gallery in Lewisburg hosted a "Wild Mon" party that featured food, fresh cider and a wilderness endorsement by the Lewisburg Mayor!
This stunning painting of Seneca Falls (in gorgeous color and fully framed!) was donated by Gary Cooper of Cooper Gallery in Lewisburg as a raffle prize for a WV Wilderness Coalition Wild Party on October 7. The beautiful video about the history of Wilderness in the Mon and our work to designate more special wild areas as Wilderness, narrated by Larry Groce, was playing on a large screen TV, while yummy refreshments and fresh cider were enjoyed by partiers at the Harmony Ridge Gallery, an elegant and spacious new establishment in Lewisburg.
Besides the fun, the party had a serious side. It was an event to educate and alert folks in Greenbrier Co and nearby area about the need for comments on the Monongahela National Forest draft management plan released in August.
The Forest Service has selected as their proposed alternative a departure from the balanced management the Mon has enjoyed under the 1986 plan. Besides only recommending 3 of the 15 areas the WV Wilderness Coalition is proposing for new Wilderness designation, the preferred Alternative 2 opens previously protected roadless areas to logging and roads, triples the amount of logging projected, increases the maximum size of clearcuts from 25 to 40 acres, provides insufficient protection for riparian areas, and other problems. Alternative 2 is a threat to the future of the Mon that was affirmed by the vast majority of comments made on the 1986 plan, and comments are needed again to insist that the Forest Service select a plan that provides a better balance between protection for recreation and wildlife on the one hand, and logging on the other. Fortunately there is an alternative, Alternative 3 comes close to providing this balance, and it recommends 11 of the 15 areas proposed for Wilderness by the WV Wilderness Coalition.
John Manchester, Mayor of Lewisburg, spoke about the towns endorsement of the WV Wilderness Coalition proposal, because it includes Wilderness areas in Greenbrier County that would be easily accessible to residents and visitors there. There is currently no Wilderness in Greenbrier County or in the entire watershed of the Greenbrier River, which comprises at least a fourth of the Mon. Wilderness would help alleviate the flooding that occurs on the Greenbrier and filter the drinking water provided to several communities. Alternative 3 recommends four new Wilderness areas in the Greenbrier River watershed and three in Greenbrier County.
Party goers at the Lewisburg event were provided with information about making comments and even given an opportunity to write comment letters on the wireless computers located in the gallery. You can find information about making comments (elsewhere in this newsletter? or) at www.wvwild.org. The deadline for getting these comments to the Forest Service is November 14.