Stakeholder Collaborative Wins Award
On Wednesday, January 6th, it was announced via a press release that the USDA Forest Service had presented the George Washington National Forest Stakeholder Collaborative, a partnership of 19 local organizations and other individuals, with the 2015 Partners and Community Engagement award for their efforts on the George Washington National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan and Lower Cowpasture Restoration and Management Project.
This regional award honors one partner group selected from among 17 National Forests in 13 southern states. The award recipients were recognized for their innovative and creative approaches to building partnerships and implementing Forest Service projects.
The Collaborative partners include: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; Society of American Foresters; Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition; Virginia Wilderness Committee; The Nature Conservancy; Shenandoah Mountain Touring; Bath County Board of Supervisors; Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited; The Nature Conservancy; Virginia Forestry Association; Quality Deer Management Association – Rockingham Branch; Southern Environmental Law Center; Virginia Wilderness Committee; Friends of Shenandoah Mountain; Virginia Chapter Sierra Club; Virginia State Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation; Alleghany County Board of Supervisors; Virginia Bear Hunters Association; and Virginia State Leadership Team, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The Collaborative is convened by a six-member steering committee.
These groups came together in 2010 with the goal of developing recommendations for the management of the George Washington National Forest. The product of their efforts was the submission of joint comments on the National Forest Draft Plan. The final plan, released in November 2014, reflected many of the recommendations, including additional acres of Wilderness and a National Scenic Area, as well as additional areas and objectives for management activities such as timber harvesting, controlled burning, and other habitat management techniques.
The Stakeholder Collaborative also worked with the Forest Service on the 117,000-acre Lower Cowpasture Restoration and Management Project. The group participated in public workshops, encouraged public and county engagement, and provided input to identify priority restoration efforts and management activities. These efforts produced a plan which outlines a number of restoration and management projects to take place over the next ten years, including timber management, road restoration and management, fish and aquatic organism passage improvements, wildlife habitat management, American Chestnut restoration, non-native invasive species control, recreational trail development, and prescribed fire.