The USDA Forest Service’s new land and resource management plan for the George Washington National Forest, released today, will help conserve and restore a core network of resilient forests and improve healthy watersheds, while demonstrating the value of public collaboration on similar projects.
“The George Washington National Forest contains some of the most biologically rich temperate broadleaf forests on the planet,” said Marek Smith, program director of the Conservancy’s Allegheny Highlands Program. “As Virginia’s largest forest, it supports a tremendous diversity of plant and animal species, ensures clean drinking water for neighboring communities and provides boundless recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. We’re grateful to have helped play an important role in protecting this valuable resource and commend Forest Service staff for developing the plan through a collaborative and engaging public process.”
The new plan outlines the various desired conditions and permitted uses of the forest, which spans across Virginia and parts of West Virginia: for recreation, wildlife management, ecosystem restoration and forest products. The George Washington National Forest is a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers and hunters; an asset to the forest products industry; and valuable real estate for a diverse and important community of species. Development of the plan drew upon The Nature Conservancy’s long history of successful science-based approaches to conservation and reflects the Conservancy’s efforts to bring together varied—and sometimes competing—interests in how the land is used.
“I’d like to thank TNC for their significant contributions to the George Washington Plan Revision. We modeled the process for identifying desired conditions for forest vegetation after TNC’s Conservation Action Planning principles,” stated Forest Supervisor Tom Speaks. “In addition to providing this framework, Marek Smith, Director of the TNC Allegheny Highlands Program, played a key role in bringing together individuals and organizations with diverse interests to recommend a common set of objectives and goals for managing the George Washington National Forest.”
The Nature Conservancy, which owns land directly adjacent to the 1.1-million acre George Washington National Forest on Warm Springs Mountain, contributed its scientific expertise to help the USDA Forest Service develop the plan in these ways:
Article by The Nature Conservancy.