Shenandoah National Park threatened by logging, road-building

Environment Virginia exposes bills moving through U.S. House
For Immediate Release

Contact: Priscilla Lin, Preservation Assistant

Mobile: (571) 214-4213, Office: (703) 896-4727

priscilla@environmentvirginia.org

Charlottesville, Virginia— Environment Virginia released a new report today revealing that pristine areas near and within Shenandoah National Park could be at risk of logging and road-building if bills moving through the House of Representatives are signed into law. The report, “Trashing our Treasures: Congressional Assault on the Best of America,” exposes a startling trend of legislative attacks on our nation’s treasured places, like Shenandoah.

“Shenandoah National Park is one of Virginia’s greatest treasures— from its graceful waterfalls to its sheltered stream valleys and dense oak-hickory forests, Shenandoah is home to bobcats, gray foxes, deer, and eastern cottontails, and draws more than a million visitors every year.” said Priscilla Lin of Environment Virginia. “Yet Representatives Goodlatte, Griffith, Wittman, Rigell, and other members of Congress seem bent on trashing our treasures, and have launched an assault on the best of Virginia.”

The Environment Virginia report analyzes the effects various bills moving through the U.S. House of Representatives would have on Shenandoah National Park and more than a dozen treasured places across the country. Like Shenandoah, these beloved state and national landmarks provide clean water, improve air quality and support critical wildlife habitat, and drive recreation and tourism. Nevertheless, several Virginia representatives support the three bills that put the park at risk.

The Wilderness & Roadless Release Act (H.R.1581) and the Wilderness Development Act (H.R.2834) would allow road-building and logging in the most pristine areas within and surrounding Shenandoah National Park. In addition, the American Lands Act (H.R. 2588) would require the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to sell 8% of their lands annually until 2016 to the highest bidder- 36 million acres in 2012 alone. Forests and public lands near Shenandoah, like the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, could then be sold off to developers or mining companies, damaging the ecosystems and jeopardizing backcountry recreation in Virginia. 

“Imagine this- you go to Shenandoah to experience the solitude of wilderness only to find that acres of forest have been clear cut. Or perhaps you’re hiking one of the remote trails deep in the park and are startled to look up and see trucks rumbling by,” remarked Lin. “The Roadless Release and Wilderness Development Acts would allow road-building and logging in the most pristine and sensitive areas in and around Shenandoah National Park, even though Congress granted extra protections to Shenandoah’s wilderness and roadless areas decades ago.”

“In Virginia the pressure of population is such that our public lands are becoming much more valuable for recreation and wildlife conservation than for extractive industries.  It is the duty of every citizen to resist the degradation and loss of our public heritage,” said Jim Murray of the Virginia Wilderness Committee.

“More than a million people come to Shenandoah National Park every year to marvel at the scenery, hike, camp, boat, and experience the hundreds of species of fish and wildlife that that make Shenandoah their home,” said Dede Smith of the Charlottesville City Council. “It is astounding that members of Congress, including some of Virginia’s own representatives, would risk losing all of this by opening the most sensitive areas of Shenandoah to road-building and logging.”

"With the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act of 1964 approaching, we should be celebrating this landmark legislation and the many irreplaceable natural jewels it has helped to protect.  Instead, we are forced to defend these national treasures from an onslaught of legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives that would essentially destroy many of the precious values and resources these lands hold, both human and biological," said David Hannah of Wild Virginia.

“The dense forests and pristine waterways in Shenandoah National Park have been protected by Congress for decades, but this year members of Congress want to risk destroying our state treasure by allowing road-building and logging,” concluded Lin. “Virginians need to say enough is enough. We call on our elected officials to reject these bills and make sure that visitors can continue to enjoy Shenandoah’s pristine beauty for generations to come.”

# # #

Environment Virginia is a state-based, citizen funded environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open space.