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Healthcare Providers Are Signing On for Wilderness
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by Mary Wimmer, WV Wilderness Coalition Chair | 2007

Health Care Providers recognize the need for wilderness for all Mountaineers, and the wilderness benefits that are available to all Mountaineers!

Is wilderness good for your health? West Virginia healthcare providers are saying “Yes” and signing on to a letter in support of the WV Wilderness Coalition’s effort to get more wilderness designated in our Monongahela National Forest. Through your acquaintance with members of this group, you can help the campaign by passing the link below along to your own healthcare acquaintances (doctors, nurses, physical therapists, counselors, fitness experts, and others). Our goal is to have well over 100 sign-ons from providers all across the state by the time Congress goes back into session after Labor Day.

The following is the sign-on letter posted on the WV Wilderness Coalition website (www.wvwild.org). When the site opens, just click on the green and red “Healthcare Professionals for Wilderness” box, and the letter appears.

“As healthcare providers in West Virginia, we the undersigned recognize the health benefits of wild lands, some of which are described below, and we, therefore, support the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition’s proposal to achieve permanent wilderness designation for unprotected wild places in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest (Mon). We give the Coalition permission to use our names as a group to publicize this support.
Clean air, clean water, physical exercise, relief of stress, anxiety and other pressures of daily life, and development of self confidence and self esteem are important for maintaining and improving the physical and mental health and well-being of West Virginians, as well as helping prevent a variety of chronic diseases that afflict the health of many of our citizens.
The undeveloped wild lands of our state, especially the public lands accessible within the Mon, can provide all of the above health benefits. A re-connection with nature can occur here as adults and children enjoy the diverse outdoor recreation activities available that help incorporate needed exercise into the lifestyles of West Virginians, including hiking, backpacking, swimming, fishing, hunting, boating, XC skiing, and wildlife viewing. The peace, solitude and open space encountered in wilderness give a sense of freedom, exploration, and escape that may not be found elsewhere, and provide a spiritual renewal for many. Exposing children to these experiences early on can help instill in them a knowledge and appreciation of West Virginia ’s wild heritage, as well as contribute toward a healthy life.
The wild lands of the Mon encompass major headwater areas for five river systems. By protecting these forested, undeveloped watersheds, not only is drinking water kept safe, but also, by controlling storm runoff, the risk of flooding in our river communities is lowered. The high air quality in these areas is maintained from the general lack of air-polluting activities. The health and community benefits provided by Mon wild lands can translate into economic benefits for our citizens and our state.
The proposed areas possess outstanding wilderness qualities increasingly scarce in the rapidly developing East. Their protection would add needed West Virginia acreage to the National Wilderness Preservation System, currently encompassing less than 1/2 of 1% of our state. Through the perpetuity of Wilderness designation, the benefits of these lands can be realized by future as well as current generations of West Virginians.”

It takes less than a minute to add one’s name to the growing list. Nearly 70 people did so in just the first three weeks the site was open (link to list is on web site), and a number have also made donations to the cause. Please contact your health care providers and friends today!

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