Virginia Wilderness - Keeping it like it is

Virginia Wilderness homepage

Facts about the Virginia Ridge and Valley Act 2007

  • Protects 39,510,000 acres of the Jefferson National Forest in southwestern Virginia as wilderness, 3,226 as a wilderness study area, and 11,583 acres as scenic area.

Proposed Wilderness Areas

* Stone Mountain - 3,270 acres, Lee County
* Raccoon Branch - 4,223 acres, Smyth County
* Brush Mountain - 4,794 acres, Montgomery County
* Brush Mountain East - 3,769 acres, Craig County
* Garden Mountain - 3,291 acres, Bland County
* Hunting Camp Creek -8,470 acres, Bland County

Proposed Wilderness Study Area
* Lynn Camp Creek - 3,226 acres, in Bland County

Proposed National Scenic Areas
* Seng Mountain - 6,455 acres, Smyth County
* Bear Creek - 5,128 acres, Smyth County

Proposed additions to existing Wilderness Areas
* Mountain Lake Wilderness Area - 5,476 acres, Giles and Craig counties
* Lewis Fork Wilderness Area - 308 acres, Smyth and Grayson counties
* Little Wilson Creek Wilderness Area - 1,845 acres, Grayson County
* Shawvers Run Wilderness Area - 2,249 acres, Craig County
* Peters Mountain Wilderness Area - 1,203 acres, Giles County
* Kimberling Creek Wilderness Area, 612 acres, Bland County

  • Each of the Wilderness, Wilderness Study and National Scenic Area designations has been endorsed by either the U.S. Forest Service and/or the Board of Supervisors of the county in which the area is located.
  • Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, picnicking, backpacking, bird watching, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, spelunking, rock-climbing and many other outdoor activities would be continued and encouraged in the new Wilderness Areas.
  • Wilderness designation protects habitat for bear, song birds and wild turkey and includes many stands of old growth.
  • Located near the growing population centers of southwestern Virginia, the wilderness areas provide opportunities for solitude, wilderness recreation and spiritual renewal in these forests that are our heritage from the past.
  • Directs the Forest Service to develop appropriate trail plans for the wilderness and national scenic areas.

National Scenic Areas

What is a National Scenic Area? A National Scenic Area (NSA) is established by Congress to protect the scenic, cultural, historic, recreational and natural resources in specific areas, while allowing compatible uses. The management policies for the area are set forth in the legislation designating the specific NSA.

What NSAs are designated in the bill? The bill designates two new NSAs in Virginia. The Seng Mountain National Scenic Area would be a 6,455-acre scenic area located in Smyth County. Bear Creek, also located in Smyth County would be the other NSA. The Bear Creek National Scenic Area would be 5,128 acres.

Are there other NSAs in Virginia? Yes. In 1994, Congress established the 7,580-acre Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area. Located in Amherst County, the Mount Pleasant NSA contains some of Virginia’s most popular hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail. Mount Pleasant is also a popular destination for camping, hunting and fishing.

Are hunting and fishing permitted in the NSAs? Yes, hunting and fishing are permitted in the NSAs and wilderness areas designated by this proposal. The legislation specifically guarantees motorized access on Forest Development Road 9410 and 84b in the Seng Mountain NSA during deer and bear hunting seasons.

What other recreational opportunities exist in the proposed NSAs? In addition to hunting and fishing, a variety of recreational activities can occur in the proposed NSAs including hiking, horseback riding, camping and mountain biking. The legislation also directs the Forest Service to develop a trail plan of non-motorized recreation trails in the scenic areas.