Virginia Wilderness - Keeping it like it is

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Roanoke Times
Editorial Page
April 30, 2005

Heed the call of the wild(erness)

It's not tree-hugging. It's asset-protection.

And it's good news. If legislation sponsored by Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon, and Republican U.S. Sen. John Warner succeeds, another 55,000 acres of Jefferson National Forest will be designated wilderness or national scenic areas. That would help safeguard those acres and all they hold from the effects of logging and other environmentally traumatic uses.

But more than standard environmental concerns - animal habitat, clean water and so on - would be served. The unspoiled beauty and natural wonders of vast areas of Western Virginia are a barely tapped economic asset. Considering their outdoor recreation and eco-tourism potential and their value for nearby communities as development-attracting amenities, protection is a sensible business decision.

For residents of Montgomery, Craig, Lee, Smyth, Bland, Giles and Grayson counties, the Virginia Ridge and Valley Act of 2005 would be self-interest at its best.

(C)2005 The Roanoke Times