Nov. 18, 2014
Katy Dunlap, Trout Unlimited Eastern Water Project Director, 607-742-3331
Mark Taylor, Trout Unlimited Eastern Communications Director, 540-353-3556
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monongahela National Forest recognized in 10 special places report
Rugged forest in West Virginia has attracted hunters and anglers for generations
WASHINGTON, D.C.Trout Unlimited is featuring the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia in a new report highlighting outstanding public fishing and hunting areas in the Central Appalachian region that are at risk from shale gas drilling-related activities.
The organizations 10 Special Places report focuses on areas that are rich in fish, game and natural beauty, and that have for generations provided abundant opportunities for hunters and anglers. It covers threats to the specific regions and offers recommendations for the best approaches sportsmen and women can use to protect these areas from potential risks.
The Monongahela National Forest is the seventh of the 10 Special Places to be announced. Trout Unlimited is announcing a new place weekly this fall, and will release the full report in December.
“In West Virginia we rely heavily on extraction industries for our local economy and we are proud of the energy we produce for America, but there are some places just too special to our sporting heritage to put at risk,” said Philip Smith, immediate past chair of West Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited. “The current regulatory protections simply do not provide sufficient safeguarding of our water resources.”
Established in 1920, the Monongahela National Forest today covers more than 919,000 acres and is the fourth largest national forest in the East. It features rugged terrain that varies from 1,000 feet elevation to nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, and contains five separate federally designated wilderness areas. The forest, which is within a days drive of half of the nations population, holds the headwaters of six major rivers: the Cheat, Potomac, Greenbrier, Elk, Tygart and Gauley.
By far the largest tract of public land in West Virginia, the Monongahela provides extensive hunting opportunities for small and big game, including black bear, wild turkey and whitetail deer. Fishing for wild and native trout abounds in the headwaters of great streams such as the Potomac and the Greenbrier.
The Monongahela National Forest holds a special place in the hearts of West Virginias hunters and anglers, said Katy Dunlap, eastern water project director for Trout Unlimited. And its pristine streams and remote forests attract sportsmen and women from across the East, bringing economic revenue to the rural mountain towns located in and near the forest.
Trout Unlimited promotes responsible energy development and, in collaboration with others, seeks to ensure that all reasonable efforts are made to avoid or mitigate the impacts such development may have on important coldwater resources, such as the Monongahela National Forest.
West Virginia hunters and anglers want to be part of the solution to responsible energy development by working with the U.S. Forest Service to permanently withdraw lands in the Monongahela National Forest from leasing where the federal government owns the subsurface oil and gas rights. On the 38 percent of forest lands where the oil and gas rights are privately owned, sportsmen and women want the Forest Service to require strict monitoring, reporting and inspection of drilling-related activities to limit impacts to interior forests and wildlife and valuable streams and aquatic species.
The report and related content are available online at tu.org/special-places.