Public lands provide significant benefits to the public, our environment, and our economy. Our West Virginia public lands, including our state forests and parks as well as our national forests are experiencing record-high visitations and therefore are facing threats like never before. In fact, reports from all over the country are telling the same story.
To help visitors to the Monongahela National Forest understand the importance of protecting this important asset, Kelly Bridges, Public Affairs Officer for the MON posted the following on the Forest Service Facebook page which I believe is applicable to all public lands in West Virginia.
U.S. Forest Service – Monongahela National Forest
Released May 24, 2021
Memorial Day, the traditional kick-off for summer recreation, is only one week away. Many popular areas may be extra busy this year. Keep these tips in mind to protect yourself and others during your visit:
- Check the Forest website to see the latest safety alerts and closure orders at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/mnf/alerts-notices.
- If the parking lot is full at the location you want to visit, have a backup plan for another place to visit. Visit this webpage for ideas: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/mnf/recreation.
- Carefully monitor campfires. Never leave a campfire unattended. Extinguish your fire completely. Keep pouring water on it until all remains are cool. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
- If you plan to visit a Wilderness area on the Forest, educate yourself on what that means: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mnf/specialplaces/…. You might be surprised to learn that you need to be self-sufficient. There are no bathrooms, trails are often unmarked, cell service may be unavailable, and group sizes are limited to 10.
- Be considerate of others. Pay attention to your surroundings. Obey all signs and posted restrictions. Pack it in, pack it out. Follow the Leave No Trace 7 Principles, © 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.
- Cell service is spotty across the Forest and if you get into trouble, you may be on your own for a while before help can reach you. Be sure to always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. Be aware that you are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.
- Enjoying the water? Wear a lifejacket. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 85% of all boating-related fatalities were not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets save lives.
- Be prepared for all types of weather, and check weather conditions often. Sudden storms are common in the mountains of West Virginia and may cause flash flooding.
- Swimming is not permitted at lakes on Monongahela National Forest, except for the designated swimming areas at Lake Sherwood and Blue Bend. Even in those locations, lifeguards are not provided, so never swim alone and always monitor children.
For more tips about recreating responsibly and safely, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/…/know-befor…/responsible-recreation. #RecreateResponsibly #KnowBeforeYouGo #BeOutdoorSafe #leavenotrace
WVHC Public Lands Committee
Members of the Public Lands Committee have reviewed the Forest Service’s proposed Cranberry Spring Creek project and the Conservancy has provided scoping comments on the project based on the review.
The comments include:
● The Need to Provide Additional Information to the Public and Extend the Scoping Period.
● A Suggestion to Merge the Gauley Healthy Forest Restoration Project with the Cranberry Spring Creek Project.
Other suggestions related to:
● Watershed and Soil Issues
● Inventoried Roadless Areas
● Prescribed Fire
● Climate Change
● 30 X 30 Initiative
We Also Stated Proposals That We Support
● Spruce restoration in MP 4.1.
● Specific proposals related to aquatic restoration.
● Recreational improvements.
● Cultural resource activities except the proposed parking lot in an IRA.
The highlands of West Virginia are a biologically important treasure and perform an immeasurable role in our ability to support and promote tourism, provide clean drinking water, and clean air not only to West Virginias, but to the Eastern United States. They stand as a resilient stronghold, providing significant benefits for people, the environment, and the economy. People are receiving many of these benefits even though they may not visit our public lands.