Dispelling Myths

As we hear about myths about the Shenandoah Mountain Proposal, we will dispel them here.

Myth: The Shenandoah Mountain Proposal will close roads.
Fact:  No roads will be closed. People who hunt, fish, camp, hike, ride horses, and go on scenic drives may continue to enjoy all the roads that exist now.  The proposed Wilderness areas do not have any roads, none at all.

Myth:  If areas on Shenandoah Mountain are designated as National Scenic Area and Wilderness, access to campsites and trailheads will be shut down.
Fact:  Access will not change.  People can still drive to campsites and trailheads.

Myth: You will not be able to drive vehicles in the proposed Wilderness areas. 
Fact:  The proposed Wilderness areas do not have any roads, none at all.  Motor vehicles can be used, however, to deal with emergencies, search and rescue, and fighting fires.

Myth: The Shenandoah Mountain Proposal may threaten the Shenandoah 500, a dual sport race sponsored by Northern Virginia Trail Riders, by closing forest service roads and other roadless areas.
Fact:  The Shenandoah mountain Proposal would not close any roads currently open to vehicle traffic and would have no effect on the Shenandoah 500 ride.

Myth:  The Shenandoah Mountain Proposal does not allow hunting.
Fact:  Hunting is allowed in the National Scenic and Wilderness areas in the Shenandoah Mountain Proposal.  Current hunting access will not change.

Myth:  You can't fight fires in Wilderness.
Fact:   Fires in Wilderness can be attacked immediately.  If heavy equipment is required, bulldozers, pumper trucks, helicopters, chainsaws, and other vehicles and motorized equipment can be used to fight fires in Wilderness Areas

Myth:  The Forest Service cannot fight invasive species in Wilderness Areas.
Fact:  The Forest Service may use herbicides and pesticides in Wilderness areas to counter invasives, if necessary.

Myth:  The Shenandoah Mountain Proposal is supported by the Obama administration.
Fact:   The Shenandoah Mountain Proposal is a locally-developed, nonpartisan proposal that appeals to a broad range of citizens who value clean water, recreational opportunities, scenic beauty, and local tourism.  It has not been backed by the Obama administration.

Myth:  The Forest Service cannot take steps to reduce the risk of fire in Wilderness and National Scenic areas.
Fact:   The Forest Service may use prescribed burning to reduce fuel loads in Wilderness and National Scenic areas.

Myth:  Designation of Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area with Wilderness areas would put neighboring towns and homes at risk.
Fact:   Rather than putting neighboring homes and towns at risk, designation would actually offer many benefits, such as clean water, recreational opportunities, quality of life, increased property values.  Designation would protect public drinking water and prevent activities such as hydrofracking for natural gas, mining, and other forms of development that would degrade the natural character of the area.

Myth:  Wilderness and National Scenic area designation puts an end to all economic activity in a forest.
Fact:   Protective designations like Wilderness and National Scenic Area actually support and enhance a tourism-based local economy like ours in the Shenandoah Valley by protecting the beauty that visitors come to see.  These designations would be a draw for tourists who would come and spend money in our towns and cities. Many local businesses recognize the economic value of tourism and recreational activities and have endorsed our proposal.  There are still many areas where timber harvesting may occur while protecting the most scenic roadless areas. Friends of Shenandoah Mountain supports an increase in timber harvest and game management activities in the GWNF.

Myth:  Designation of Shenandoah Mountain as a National Scenic Area with Wilderness areas would destroy local jobs, place communities at risk, and even harm the forests themselves.
Fact:   Quite the contrary. Scenic Area and Wilderness designation provides numerous economic benefits and helps to maintain the natural capital that can help communities diversify economies by attracting and retaining new businesses, residents, and a local workforce. Wilderness also can protect scenic backdrops that improve property values, thereby increasing county revenues.  Our many supporters (businesses, organizations, faith groups, and individuals) have voiced support for protecting:

  • our local watersheds so that we can continue to enjoy clean drinking water and some of the cleanest cold water streams in the Eastern United States;
  • the scenic beauty that is the foundation of our tourism-based economy; 
  • a popular recreation area that supports our quality of life here in the Valley and draws visitors from all over the region.
Myth:  Wilderness “locks up” commercial forestlands.
Fact:   Wilderness preservation is a negligible factor in the availability and production of U.S. timber. The national forests produce less than five percent of the total U.S. timber supply. Timber in the proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic and Wilderness is generally less accessible due to steep slopes and lack of roads and less cost-efficient than in private forest lands that are readily available.  Also, in the new draft plan for the GWNF nearly all of the Shenandoah Mountain Proposal area is unavailable for timber harvest.  Furthermore, several timber industry representatives who participated in the GWNF stakeholders group meetings from Sept. 2010 - Sept. 2011 support the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area and new proposed Wilderness Areas within as a part of a Consensus Agreement which was submitted as joint recommendation to the GWNF by Friends of Shenandoah Mountain, timber representatives, game managers, recreationists, and conservationists.