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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 fall 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!




NEWS:


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.




RESOURCES:


“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