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Wednesday, June 12, 2013
READER RESPONSE: Reader John Wright of Amherst informed me that he contacted Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, requesting more timber management to provide wildlife habitat on the George Washington National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service in the process of revising its management plan for the GW, which will guide forest practices for the next 15 years.
Wright told me: "In my opinion, not only do we need drilling in our GW national forest, but we need to let the timber companies start cutting trees so that the habitat for the deer, turkey and other animals improves. Right now, our national forests have become a dead zone for many of the animals that used to thrive there.
"I used to hunt the GW in Amherst County, but for the last several years I have not been there. It got so I would go and go and not see the first deer or turkey. The last good hunting in the GW was over 30-years ago when sections of the mountains in the Snowden area were clear-cut. Within two years of that cut, the area was one big feed patch for deer, turkey, grouse, rabbits and bear.
"I strongly urge other sportsmen and ladies to push this issue and maybe we can get 'our' national forest back to being productive for those of us that enjoy hunting."
In reply, Sen. Warner mailed Wright a copy of a letter he recently sent to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. In it, the Senator emphasized the importance of the GW as a watershed that supplies drinking water for numerous communities. He emphasized that there is strong opposition to horizontal drilling for energy sources.
Said Warner: "I believe that the potential impacts to these important water sources and the people they serve need to be considered. Impacts to other national forest uses and values, such as high-quality fish and wildlife habitat and outstanding recreation and scenery, also need to be considered. In addition to providing clean air and water, the national forest is key to tourism, outdoor recreation and hunting and fishing in Virginia, which provide important economic benefits."
Wright and many other sportsmen wished Warner would have placed more emphasis on timber harvest for economic and wildlife benefits. Wright had this follow-up comment:
"We really need to get on the bandwagon to have more timber cut in our national forest. Without that, our wildlife will never come back like it used to be. Wildlife goes where the food supply is and the old trees just don't produce what they need."
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