What does the new forest plan mean for Bath and Highland?
The new forest plan for the George Washington was signed in November. This plan revises the 1993 forest plan and contains guidance for managing nearly 1.1 million acres of national forests in Virginia and West Virginia. This forest plan provides a balance of management direction that addresses both the long term ecological sustainability of the George Washington National Forest, as well as the long term social and economic needs of those that depend on or are impacted by the forest.
Changes in Bath and Highland Counties include the following:
In Bath County, the Little Alleghany Remote Backcountry area was expanded by 3,000 acres and a Remote Backcountry area on Warm Springs Mountain north of Route 39 and on Mill Mountain was added. In Highland, Shaws Ridge remains unsuitable for timber harvest and the management emphasis changes from wildlife habitat to remote backcountry recreation.
In Bath, Special Biological Areas at Hidden Valley, Blowing Springs and Beard’s Mountain were added. In Highland County, part of the Laurel Fork is designated as a Special Biological Area.
In Bath County, additions to the Rough Mountain Wilderness (additional 1,000 acres) and the Rich Hole Wilderness (additional 4,600 acres) are recommended. In Highland, the northeastern part of the county is part of the recommended addition to the Ramseys Draft Wilderness. Congressional designation would be required for any areas to become wilderness.
In Bath County, wind development proposals could be considered on Walker Mountain and some of Alleghany Mountain, but not on Little Mountain, Shenandoah Mountain, most of Warm Springs Mountain and most of Mill Mountain. Proposals on Back Creek Mountain are doubtful.
In Highland County, wind proposals could be considered on Alleghany Mountain but not on Shenandoah Mountain or Shaws Ridge.