Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area Proposal – Part 1

In 2002, wilderness advocates and mountain bike enthusiasts began working together to protect the beauty and recreational opportunities of the Shenandoah Mountain areaBy 2004, they had formed Friends of Shenandoah Mountain.

Lynn Cameron is the co-chair.

“Friends of Shenandoah Mountain is a coalition of organizations and businesses working together for a single purpose and that is to designate the Shenandoah Mountain area, between Route 250 and Route 33, National Forest land, as a National Scenic Area with several embedded wilderness areas,” says Cameron.

“The National Scenic Area Proposal is a 90,000 acre proposal, all in the George Washington National Forest, no private land,” says Cameron.  “The National Scenic Area would protect the area from industrial development, like fracking for natural gas or mining or other industrial activities that would mar the natural character of the area.  Within the 90,000 acres are several proposed wilderness areas that offer the strongest protection for the most remote areas, that are within the scenic area.”

Four hundred businesses and organizations have endorsed the proposal and resolutions of support have been received from Augusta County, Rockingham County, Harrisonburg and Staunton.   Highland County is currently considering a resolution of support.

“We started out asking businesses if they’d like to endorse the proposal and for seventeen years we’ve gone around and spoken to organizations in all the counties that are affected,” says Cameron.  “We built local support and then the next step was to go to the local governments and just show them what the citizens of their counties want.  Then ask them if they will pass a resolution of support.  After that we would be ready to go to Congress, both the Senate and the House, to ask for introduction of a bill.  This requires federal legislation, so it literally takes an act of Congress.  I’ve been asked about the permanence of this.  It is intended to be permanent, but there is no guarantee that anything is permanent.  You know, if something happened that down the road, this was unfavorable to the public interest, a future Congress might decide to un-enact it.  I think that’s very unlikely, but it is possible.”

“Starting from Route 250, the proposal area includes the Confederate Breastworks,” says Cameron.  “It includes the Reddish Knob area, the North River Gorge area, Hone Quarry, the High Knob area, Flagpole Knob.  There are important water resources flowing off Shenandoah Mountain and that’s been a primary motivation for protecting the area.  Some of the localities who passed resolutions of support have done so because they want their watershed protected from fracking or other industrial development, especially Harrisonburg and Staunton. “

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Stay tuned for part two of this story on the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area proposal.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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