New Virginia Wilderness Bill Introduced!
The Ridge and Valley Act of 2007
“ Southwest Virginia possesses the state’s best outdoor experience, with the highest mountains, most interesting rivers, and superb hunting, camping, fishing, hiking and backpacking opportunities. This bill will preserve some of our most pristine lands for future generations and add significantly to the natural attractions of the eastern United States .
~U.S Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA)
Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition Plays Key Role in the protection of Virginia ’s National Forests
SAFC’s successful grassroots campaign efforts in Virginia have helped generate a new wilderness bill. The Ridge and Valley Act of 2007, was introduced on February 14th by U.S. Representative Rick Boucher and U.S. Senators John Warner and Jim Webb. When enacted, the Ridge and Valley Act will protect over 55,000 acres of Virginia ‘s Jefferson National Forest and will create seven new Wilderness Areas, two new National Scenic Areas, and expand six existing Wilderness Areas in southwest Virginia.
Securing permanent protection for these lands will have a tremendous impact on this region of Virginia, both in terms of preserving the most ecologically valuable forested areas and increasing tourism, a major component of the area’s economic base. Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, picnicing, backpacking, bird watching, horseback riding, cross country skiing, snoeshoeing, spelunking, rock-climbing and many other outdoor activities would be continued and encouraged in the new Wilderness Areas. At the same time, motorized traffic and mechanized equipment are banned, preventing any disruption to the ecosystems and diverse wildlife.
SAFC’s Field Organizer, Mark Miller, has worked tirelessly for the last four years to drum up grassroots and high level support for this proposal. His efforts have secured a broad base of support from each of the southwest counties in which the protected areas would be located. The bill is also supported by a wide variety of businesses, tourism interests, faith groups, garden clubs and other local organizations.
SAFC has worked closely with the Virginia Wilderness Committee, The Wilderness Support Center, the Campaign for America ’s Wilderness, The Wilderness Society, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and others to support a very successful campaign. In addition to the Forest Coalition’s strategic outreach, we have bolstered the campaign with assistance on strategic planning, meeting support, media coverage, and mapping.
Virginia’s Mountain Treasures
Virginia ’s two national forests, the Jefferson and George Washington, stretch from one end of Virginia to the other, along the beautiful Southern Appalachians . These two forests cover nearly 1.6 million acres, representing one of the largest blocks of public land in the eastern United States . Virtually every type of outdoor recreation activity is available–hiking, fishing, mountain biking, camping, backpacking, bird watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and nature photography. The Jefferson and George Washington National Forests have 2,000 miles of hiking trails and the internationally famous Appalachian Trail extends for more than 330 miles across both forests as it winds its way from Georgia to Maine . In addition, there are nine National Recreation Trails covering nearly 90 miles.
SAFC’s Conservation Vision identifies many more areas in Virginia that need our help. It contains a clear blueprint for increasing the protection of these treasures. Our future work is to add even more priority areas to the wilderness bill and ensure its passage. Our Coalition will also campaign to build grassroots support toward similar wilderness legislation for the George Washington National Forest and continue our work to strengthen the management of all national forestland in Virginia.
For businesses [.pdf]
For organizations [.pdf]
Map of proposed areas [.pdf]
Bill Endorsers [.pdf]
The Bill [.pdf]
Campaign Partner Links
Virginia Wilderness Committee
The Conservation Alliance
Campaign for America ’s Wilderness
Merck Family Fund
Town Creek Foundation
American Wilderness Coalition
IMBA Supports Bicycle Friendly Virginia Wilderness Bill
Virginia Land Protection Bill Back in Congress, Roanoke Times
Warner, Boucher, Webb Introduce Virginia Ridge and Valley Act of 2007