If you’ve ever driven to West Virginia on Route 33 and looked south, you’ve seen the landscape that will be protected by a Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area (NSA), including Hone Quarry, the watershed for Switzer Reservoir (where Harrisonburg residents get drinking water), and Reddish Knob, the highest peak in the proposed area, which stretches to Route 250 in Augusta County.
So, why do we need a National Scenic Area designation for Shenandoah Mountain when locals already know about the mountain’s expansive trails and recreation opportunities, its diverse wildlife and plant life, its pristine headwaters and its iconic presence in our western viewshed? The NSA designation will officially communicate to decision-makers that we want the things we cherish about Shenandoah Mountain sustained for generations and protected from threats to the clean air, water and habitat it provides.
Through the work of Friends of Shenandoah Mountain, a coalition of local citizens, businesses, faith groups, wilderness advocates, mountain bikers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, and other forest users, the NSA proposal has now been endorsed by four of the five neighboring localities – Rockingham County, Augusta County and the cities of Staunton and Harrisonburg, which brings the proposal closer to its trip to Capitol Hill that will make it official. Stay tuned for a call to reach out to your federal legislators when the time is right.
For now, next time you see a county supervisor or city council member, please thank them for their support in moving the proposal forward to secure Shenandoah Mountain’s role in our community for clean water, wildlife and forest fun for future generations.
National Scenic Area: What you should know
The first National Scenic Area in the United States was Mono Basin National Scenic Area in 1984. A National Scenic Area (NSA) is established by Congress with legislation to provide additional protection of the scenic, cultural, historic, recreational and natural resources in a specific area. Each NSA is unique and applies only to the designated public lands. Most NSAs allow popular forms of recreation, such as hunting, fishing, mountain biking, while protecting against other activities, such as hydrofracking or industrial wind development that would mar the natural character and degrade recreational opportunities of the area.
Photo by Lynn Cameron