Coffee Break: Shenandoah Mountain
photos courtesy of Friends of Shenandoah Mountain
I know we usually talk coffee, coffee habits, coffee trends, and, well, just about anything that has to do with coffee, on this blog. Today, we’re going to take a break and talk about something that’s more important than coffee.
Can’t imagine what that would be? Well, let me give you a hint. If you’ve ever been a camper, you know what it’s like to wake up in the morning in a mountain camp. The air is crisp and truly clean. The water you use to make your coffee makes some of the best brew you’ll ever taste.
The birds and other wildlife wake with you. And in that stillness of a crisp mountain morning, you feel something that everyday life blocks out, peace. Time in the mountains is the surest way to get re-centered, to calm your monkey mind, and enjoy the native wildlife.
Here in the Shenandoah Valley, in the George Washington National forest, we have the Shenandoah Mountain. It is one of the largest tracts of wild land left on the eastern half of the US.
With diverse wildlife habitat, exceptional recreational opportunities everywhere, and its clean water, Shenandoah Mountain is also an integral part of local tourism. That’s why we believe in preserving it.
Friends of Shenandoah Mountain are passionate about protecting and preserving the majesty of one of the last natural tracts of land left. We’re also happy to say, that Friends of Shenandoah Mountain are practical and believe in compromise. That’s why The Coffee Cave and Jake’s Convenience supports their efforts.
What Is the Shenandoah Mountain Proposal?
In 2004, Friends of Shenandoah Mountain developed a proposal with the goal of permanently protecting the largest remaining unfragmented expanse of publicly owned forest land here in the east.
Since that time, the non-profit has gained the support of 282 (and counting) organizations, businesses, and faith groups.
In 2010-11, diverse groups of George Washington National Forest stakeholders submitted a set of joint recommendations for the national forest management plan. Timber interests, game managers, hunting and fishing organizations, wilderness advocates, and recreational interest groups, all stepped forward to express their support for preserving Shenandoah Mountain.
Friends of Shenandoah Mountain want permanent legislative protection for these forested areas:
• Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area—Augusta, Rockingham, and Highland counties.
• Skidmore Fork Wilderness—Rockingham County
• Little River Wilderness—Augusta County
• Bald Ridge Addition to Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness—Augusta County
• Lynn Hollow Wilderness—Highland County
How Shenandoah Mountain Gives Back to the Community
Unlike the declining timber and manufacturing industries in the southern Appalachian area, Americans have a growing interest in outdoor recreation.
Recreational tourism, as well as related industries, are on the rise. What’s more, 80% of recreation
trips to the mountain are made by non-locals. With 3.8 million annual visits to Virginia’s national forests, that’s an average of $300 million in tourist-based services. Think hotels, retails stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc. all within 50 miles from the forest.
Shenandoah Mountain produces its fair share of mountain hungry lovers to our area.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Shenandoah Mountain’s Worst Threat
It’s a controversial plan that wanted to cut through the southeastern portion of the Shenandoah Mountain Proposal, along the Braley Pond-Hankey Mountain area. However, Friends of Shenandoah Mountain made comprises to satisfy other forest stakeholders in 2011.
The boundaries were moved back in the Braley Pond-Hankey Mountain area. Now, the ACP route lies just outside, or alongside of the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area boundaries. That's the good news.
What's troubling is how the pipeline construction and maintenance would still impact the scenic qualities, natural characteristics and recreational experiences of Scenic Area users.
If the pipeline is approved, there’s a very real possibility that it could make the proposal ineligible for designation as a National Scenic Area.
ACP’s 550-mile trek would also cut through the Ruffed Grouse Habitat management area on Hankey Mountain. Although Dominion proposed an alternate route through Deerfield Valley, it still cuts through the gateway of the proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area.
If the Atlantic Coastal Pipeline is allowed to be built, it will degrade the scenic beauty, recreational experiences, wildlife habitat and water quality of the area. Not to mention, degrading tourist trade.
We ask you to raise your coffee cup to the Shenandoah Mountain. Protect what can’t give a voice. Protect what Virginia is known for. Heck, even Dave Matthews supports this project.