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Protect the Wilderness in Allegheny Forest
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by George Alderson | 2006

With No National Forest of Our Own, Marylanders Have a Stake in Protecting the Wilderness in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest

A campaign to protect more wilderness in Pennsylvania is underway. The U.S. Forest Service is taking public comments on a draft forest plan for the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) in northwestern Pennsylvania. Scheduled for release in mid-May, the draft presents the agency’s proposal for management of the ANF.

Let’s show them Marylanders want more wilderness protected!  In Maryland we have no national forests, so we look to those in our neighbor states for remnants of the wild mountains.  I was among many Sierra Club members who were active in the 1970s in a campaign that brought wilderness protection for several areas in the national forests of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia.  (The Forest Service then argued that nothing in the East could qualify for wilderness status.)

The Pennsylvania Chapter has joined in a coalition effort to advocate wilderness protection for eight areas of the Allegheny National Forest.  Thus far the Forest Service has refused to even consider five of them, even though they were identified as roadless areas in the agency’s RARE-II inventory.

There are now two wilderness areas in the ANF totaling 9,000 acres.  That is only 2 percent of the 513,000 acres in the ANF.  The current campaign by citizen groups identified 54,000 acres in eight units that meet the standards of the Wilderness Act.  A comprehensive proposal appears on the web site of Friends of Allegheny Wilderness at www.pawild.org. 

Best known of the proposed wilderness units is the Tionesta Wilderness— 15,000 acres including the largest tract of old-growth forest in Pennsylvania (also the largest in the East between the Great Smokies and the Adirondacks).  

As soon as conservationists have analyzed the Forest Service draft, the results will be posted on the Friends web site (www.pawild.org), or you can contact me at george7096@comcast.net. 

The comment period runs for 90 days, until about August 15.  Comments may be sent to:  Forest Plan Revision, Allegheny National Forest, PO Box 36, Warren, PA 16365.  (Fax: 814-726-1465.  Email: r9_anf_fpr@fs.fed.us.)  The Forest Service web site for this project is at http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/allegheny/projects/forest_plan_revision. n

 

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