George Washington National Forest Plan Revision
Forest Planning: December 2012 Update
The USDA/Forest Service has published a Draft Enviromental Impact
Statement and Revised Resource Management Plans for the GW (and
Jefferson) National Forest. Copies of these are on the
George Washington Forest Plan Revsion website
The Forest Service now expects the Final Forest Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement to be completed in the spring of 2013.
Key Points to Raise:
1.) ROADS: There are approx. 1,872 miles of
roads on the George Washington, and as of 2003, the road
maintenance backlog for the combined GW/Jefferson was about
$19.34 million. (USFS, Fiscal Year 2004 Forest Service Budget
Justification (2003)). The maintenance backlog has undoubtedly
gone up since this last report was released, due to continued low
levels of agency funding and continued roadbuilding in the
interim. This costly roads maintenance backlog should be
improved by decommissioning unneeded roads or converting them to
non-motorized trails. Roads that are negatively impacting
watersheds, soils, native plant diversity, and wildlife should be
decommissioned, where appropriate, as well. A reasonably
rapid timetable, with benchmarks, should be implemented in order
to ensure that the Forest Service substantially reduces unneeded
road mileage over the course of the next 10-15 years.
2.) ROADS: In order to protect remote habitat
for wildlife, black bears, wild turkey, and other wildlife, the
Forest Service currently uses so-called road density
requirements as a roads management tool. These road density
requirements also have other benefits, including protecting the
recreation experience, protecting water quality in important
watersheds, and ensuring peace and quiet for surrounding
neighbors. Road density requirements should remain part
of the desired condition for areas now specifically managed for
Bear, Turkey, Grouse, and other wildlife. Indeed, they
should be strengthened and should become binding standards.
Before changing any road density requirements, the Forest Service
should use peer-reviewed research and local studies to determine
what the adequate or optimal road density levels are for key
species of wildlife. Black bears are one such keystone species. A
thorough landscape-wide analysis of all threats to black bears,
(including the impacts of new road construction, four-lane
highways, residential and other development outside of
national forests) should be part of the research utilized. When
we think of the Appalachians, one of the first things that comes
to mind is the black bear. Black bears were nearly wiped out by
the early 20th century and were brought back from the brink, with
careful efforts, over subsequent decades. Let's not throw away
the gains we've made by creating new roads or opening too many
areas to vehicle traffic on Forest Service lands without a
thoughtful analysis first.
3.) TRAILS: If you have favorite trails
on the George Washington NF, cite examples of non-motorized
trail(s) on the George Washington National Forest that you are
familiar with. We must ensure that key non-motorized
trails are recognized, adequately maintained, and have fully
protected viewsheds and corridors. Some trails that you might
mention include the Appalachian Trail, the Alleghany Trail, the
Tuscarora Trail, the proposed Great Eastern Trail, the North Mtn
Trail (Lee District), the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, the Wild Oak
Trail, the Dowells Draft Trail, Rader Mtn Trail, Slate Springs
Trail, Bother Ridge Trail, Chestnut Ridge Trail, Grooms Ridge
Trail, Sand Spr. Mtn Trail, Timber Ridge Trail, Lookout Mtn
Trail, the Little Stony Trail, the Shaws Ridge Trail, the
Crawford Mountain Trail, the Chimney Hollow Trail, the North Mtn.
Trail (North River District), Walker Mtn. Trail (#488), Paddy
Knob Trail, Bogans Run Trail, Warm Springs Mtn. Trail, Piney
Ridge Trail, Little Mare Mtn Trail, Brushy Ridge Trail, Beards
Mtn Trail, Dry Run Trail, White Rocks Tower Trail, North Mtn
Trail (James River District), Oliver Mtn Trail, Jerrys Run Trail,
Bat Lick Trail, Signal Knob Trail, Massanutten Mtn Trail, Duncan
Hollow Trail, Roaring Run Trail, Mills Cr Trail, Kennedy Ridge
Trail, and Whetstone Ridge Trail. But there are many
others. Please talk about your favorite spots!
Roanoke Times March 7,
2007 Editorial: Under a new rule on the forests
- Roanoke Times Columnist Elizabeth Strother writes about the
George Washington NF Plan Revision and the new rules that will
guide the process.
A call to protect the
forest - an op-ed encouraging public involvement during the
George Washington NF Plan Revision written by VAFW's Sherman
Bamford. It appeared in the February 25, 2007 Roanoke Times.
Feb. 16, 2007: Conservationists call for ecological restoration on the George Washington National Forest - A broad coalition of conservation and forest-protection groups called on the U.S. Forest Service today to focus on protecting clean water, diverse wildlife habitat, old-growth forests and remote, wild areas, as well as prime recreation spots, in updating the long-range management plan for the 1.1 million-acre George Washington National Forest in western Virginia.
| Read Press Release | "Forests for the Future" - a brochure highlighting the Citizens Vision for the GWNF.
Our Land, Our Water, Our Home - a white
paper on our long-term vision for the GWNF
"Forests for the Future" - a brochure highlighting the Citizens Vision for the GWNF.
George Washington Forest Plan Revsion website