Proposed National Scenic Area (Map)
Friends of Shenandoah Mountain proposes that Shenandoah Mountain between Rt. 250 and Rt. 33 be designated a National Scenic Area with core areas as Wilderness.
Where: Augusta, Highland, and Rockingham Counties, North River Ranger District of the George Washington National Forest
Shenandoah Mountain offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Virginia. The undulating ridgeline serves as a backdrop for the Shenandoah Valley, enjoyed daily by those of us fortunate enough to live in the Valley and those who pass through on Interstate 81 alike. When we see a storm coming or a glorious sunset, we look toward Shenandoah Mountain. Those who venture to Reddish Knob are inspired by the panoramic view of the surrounding area. Shenandoah Mountain is more than a beautiful mountain; it is part of our culture and history. Protecting its beauty should be our generation’s legacy to our children and grandchildren.
The 90,000-acre section of Shenandoah Mountain that lies in Virginia between Rt. 250 and Rt. 33 knits together one of the most significant concentrations of roadless wildlands in the Southern Appalachians. It includes the 6,519-acre Ramseys Draft Wilderness and seven areas identified in Virginia Mountain Treasures: The Unprotected Wildlands of the George Washington National Forest (The Wilderness Society, 2008).
Spring in headwaters of the North River
The value of these streams and reservoirs will increase as our population grows and clean water becomes more scarce. National Scenic Area designation would provide permanent protection of these critical watersheds. Reservoirs and lakes would continue to be maintained.
Hone Quarry Falls
The Shenandoah Mountain area between Rt. 250 and Rt. 33 includes 10 named peaks that rise above 4,000 feet. The highest point is Reddish Knob which offers a 360-degree panoramic view of surrounding mountain valleys.
Shenandoah Mountain’s eastern flank forms a major drainage divide for the headwaters of two major rivers, the Potomac to the north and the James to the south, both of which flow into the Chesapeake Bay. The North River and its tributaries drain most of the Shenandoah Mountain area, flowing into the Shenandoah River and on to the Potomac River. Ramseys Draft, Shaws Fork, and the Calfpasture flow from the southern end to the James River. Several streams in the Shenandoah Mountain area support native trout populations.
Perennial springs high on the mountains give rise to numerous pure streams, such as Skidmore Fork, North River, Black Run, Gum Run, Maple Springs Run, Little River, Hone Quarry Run, Briery Branch , Shaws Fork, Calfpasture River, and Ramseys Draft. These streams support aquatic life and provide abundant clean drinking water for municipalities in the Shenandoah Valley, including Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Bridgewater. Some of these mountain streams are dammed for municipal water supply, flood control, and recreation.
The area provides habitat for numerous plants, animals, and natural communities deemed special enough by scientists and government agencies to require protection. One of these, the Cow Knob Salamander, is found nowhere else on earth. The Shenandoah Mountain Crest – Cow Knob Salamander Conservation Area, a 43,000 acre area above 3,000 ft in elevation, is home to a variety of rare species and unique natural communities, including at least 15 species of plants and at least 13 species of animals and their habitats. This Shenandoah Mountain Crest includes the following Virginia Division of Natural Heritage Conservation sites:
Although administratively protected under the National Forest plan, the Shenandoah Mountain Crest deserves permanent legislative protection.