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WV Wilderness Coalition Invites You to Join In Spring Activities
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by Matt Keller | 2006

Update on the Mon Forest Management Plan and information on upcoming wilderness events

1.  Update on Wilderness and Mon National Forest Plan Revision

As many of your are aware, the Monongahela National Forest is currently undergoing its 10-15 year Management Plan Revision.  By law, the Forest Service has to evaluate areas for their Wilderness designation potential and make recommendations to Congress, which has the ultimate discretion over what areas are protected.   The Forest Service’s recommendations are generally taken very seriously by Congress.

    After an unprecedented public response during its comment period we are hopeful that the Forest Service has seen the light and is working to greatly improve its plan.  Of the nearly 13,000 individuals who commented on the plan, over 95% supported the Forest Service’s Alternative 3 which recommended some of the best places from the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition’s Citizens’ Proposal for designation.    The public has clearly rejected the Forest Service’s preferred Alternative 2 and the roll backs of protection for special places that it includes. 

     A big part of the needed improvement will include adding recommendations for several more deserving places such as Seneca Creek, Spice Run, Big Draft, East Fork of Greenbrier, and the Dolly Sods Expansion (Dolly Sods North).  The current draft already includes recommendations for the Cranberry Expansion, Cheat Mountain, part of Roaring Plains and a small addition to Otter Creek. 

    A final plan is due out from the Forest Service by July or August.   A solid plan is the last hurdle in our path to starting the legislative process with our delegation in DC which will add several more special places to the National Wilderness Preservation System in West Virginia. 

     This designation will be more important than ever as we see threats to wild places increasing daily from not just logging, road building and other developments, but from sneaky changes in the Administration’s rules for managing National Forests.  It is highly likely that during the life of the plan that is currently being revised, the MNF will be able to change or modify an area with an administrative level of protection (like a backcountry or 6.2 area that the MNF gives it) to do pretty much whatever they like there.  Also, there is currently a proposal to sell off nearly 5,000 acres of the Mon to the highest bidder!   Only Wilderness designation can protect our wild forests from these threats.

Much work still needs to be done to achieve Wilderness legislation so please, get involved!  Visit www.wvwild.org and read the rest of this newsletter to find out how!

2. Eastern Panhandle Wilderness Group forming!

An initial meeting of Eastern Panhandle area activists was held in Berkeley Springs on April 13th.  The group discussed ways they can act locally to protect our beloved Monongahela National Forest.  This was the first of what will be regular meetings and activities in the area and we encourage you to get involved!

For more information, contact:

Harrison Case, 304-906-9317, harrison_case@wvwild.org (Morgantown) Fran Hunt, 202-429-2657, fran_hunt@tws.org (DC) Makana Ashelman, 304-258-6059, 2makana@verizon.net

3. Get involved with the Northern and Southern Mon Wilderness Groups

Over the past couple of months, local citizens from across the Mon National Forest counties have been gathering to talk about protecting special places through Wilderness designation.  Two of these groups are very active and have been taking action in a variety of ways to help make sure areas like Seneca Creek, Dolly Sods North, Spice Run and others get the protection they deserve.   There currently is a Northern Mon and Southern Mon group that meet monthly for a variety of activities including outings and potlucks.  Both groups are comprised of terrific folks with great knowledge of the Mon and how to protect it.  Your participation is highly desired

Northern Group:
Wilderness Happy Hour, evening of Monday, May 15: time and location TBA  Contact: Harrison Case (304)906-9317, harrison_case@wvwild.org

4. Join us for the 3rd Annual West Virginia Wilderness Workshop, June 2-4

When: June 2nd, 3rd and 4th,  2006
Where: The Mountain Institute (on Spruce Mountain near Spruce Knob)
Why: To learn how to protect additional Wilderness areas on the Mon National Forest, meet others interested in Wilderness and get involved in the campaign!

The West Virginia Wilderness Coalition cordially invites you to join us for a weekend of learning, strategy and fun.   We have a great opportunity to protect special places on the Mon and many of you are responsible for the progress we’ve made so far!  We’ll be gathering atop Spruce Mountain on the campus of the Mountain Institute for workshops on grassroots organizing, working with the media and more as well as conducting strategy sessions to plan the coming months of our Wilderness Campaign which we hope will lead to the introduction of legislation that will protect special places on the Mon.  We have several local groups across the state organizing for wilderness protection and members of these groups will be in attendance as well.  It will be an excellent opportunity to get plugged into the campaign.

We have a Sierra Club grant to cover the cost of the event and that includes mileage costs for Sierra Club members.  So do not let today's high gas costs deter you from attending this important event.

Contact: Matt Keller (304)864-5530, matt.keller@wvwild.org, register online at www.wvwild.org or clip and send the registration form in this issue of the Mountain State Sierran

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON UPCOMING EVENTS: GO TO www.wvwild.org and look under ‘NEWS’

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