The Photography of D L Ennis, and more!


Thursday, May 25, 2006

We Must Protect Our Wild Areas!

Image: by D L Ennis, View from the Blue Ridge Parkway, looking on to Arnold Valley.

Virginia’s publicly owned national forests contain some of the state’s rarest, most valuable wild lands. From clear mountain streams and deep woods to breathtaking Blue Ridge views and abundant wildlife, the wilderness of the Old Dominion is priceless, and it’s there for us all to enjoy.

Most of us think of the benefits of wild places first in terms of recreation, of somewhere to get away from it all. Virginia’s wilderness offers ample opportunities to escape the pressures of daily life; it’s a great place for recreation, whether you are a hunter, an angler, a camper, kayaker, birder, rock climber or just looking for a walk in the woods. But not all of the places that Virginians love are protected; unless officially designated as wilderness, even those areas within national parks are vulnerable to logging, mining, and development.

Image: by D L Ennis, Waterfall in the George Washington National Forest.

But the value of wilderness goes beyond recreation. Wilderness areas protect the watersheds we rely on for clean drinking water. They prevent soil erosion, help clean the air, and preserve critical wildlife habitat. These areas also help vitalize local economies by attracting outdoor enthusiasts and protecting the scenic backdrop for many communities. Setting aside wild lands for permanent protection ensures a natural legacy for future generations.

Virginia, with its extensive national forests in the mountains and Shenandoah National Park, has much undeveloped federal land. Yet even these public lands, which are generally thought of as intended for wilderness, are increasingly and continually threatened with development of all kinds, whether logging, mining, road building, resort construction, or river damming. Many of these man-made industries are desirable in themselves (at the proper time and location), but they inevitably destroy the wild character of the area. It has become more and more apparent, as our population grows and our mechanical ability to alter the face of the earth becomes ever more powerful, that if we are to have any wild places left of significant size, we will deliberately have to plan and act with that objective.

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