Virginia Wilderness Committee
     E-Newsletter   March, 2013
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Blimey Limey

Helicopters delivered 230 tons of limestone sand to seven sites on St. Mary's River and headwater tributary streams in St, Mary's Wilderness on March 4 - 6.  The limestone will reduce stream damage from acid rain. Minor rehabilitation of the loading site/helispot will be done later this spring. "Forest Service personnel monitor the water chemistry of the Saint Mary's River on an ongoing basis," said Peter Irvine, GWNF Wilderness Areas coordinator, "and will take samples later in the spring to document the effects of this treatment." Photo courtesy of David Bennick.

Mark Miller a Winner! 

VWC Field Director Mark Miller (L) was awarded the 2012 McCarthy Award for Environmental Conflict Resolution by Gerald McCarthy (R), Institute for Environmental Negotiation at UVA, for his work toward permanent protection of 53,000 acres in the Ridge and Valley Act of 2009.  Mark brought many stakeholders into the process who are not traditional supporters of wilderness protection, including hunters, mountain bikers, tourism interests, local government officials, business owners, garden clubs and faith groups.  “Miller has no fear or hesitation about talking to potential adversaries in the effort to find common ground,” said Sarah Francisco of the Southern Environmental Law Center.  

If Money Grew On Trees ...

VWC would be rich. But since the recession, funding from earlier sources such as The Wilderness Society has dramatically declined. VWC has won generous grants from Bama Works, Merck, & Patagonia, but these fall short of former funding levels. VWC has one staffer, the remarkable Mark Miller, whose ability to find consensus with diverse interests is noted on the left. To help VWC continue building bridges toward permanent protection of our last, wildest areas on national forests, please use button above or send to:  Karen Waterman, 229 Cranberry Drive, Stuarts Draft, VA 24477.   
GREAT EASTERN TRAIL  Tom Johnson, President of the Great Eastern Trail Association, plans a work weekend on April 6-7 to complete the segment on the western end of Carr Mountain near Bergton.  This forms the western border of the VWC Beech Lick Knob Wilderness proposal.  Volunteers have been hacking and smoothing this segment for several years, as shown here in 2012.  To help with this fun and healthy exercise, and to stay overnight at the nearby Highland Retreat cabin, contact Tom at or 703-615-5611.  See for info about this alternative to the Appalachian Trail.

THE BUZZ ON POLLINATOR PLATES  Native pollinators are increasingly important as European honeybees decline, yet are largely unknown.  Wilderness Areas protect habitat that may harbor many unknown pollinators.  For a $10 fee you can soon purchase license plates that promote pollinator conservation and can start conversations about why that is important.  For further info, see

NEWS FROM THE MOUNTAINTOP: From Friends of Shenandoah Mountain (

JMU Adjunct Prof. Jennifer Courtwright has been studying native brook trout in intermittent streams on Shenandoah Mountain.  Habitat during low summer flows is limited to small, isolated pools.  Courtwright found that terrestrial insects falling from stream-side vegetation made up 50% of trout diet, even though they represented only 7% of available food.  Loss of vegetation along intermittent streams can reduce the food available to trout for fall spawning and winter survival.  Yet intermittent streams receive little protection and basic knowledge of their frequency and location is lacking.  “It is imperative that more research be done on these poorly understood systems,” Courtwright says, “so that water conservation and riparian buffers will conserve these threatened streams that provide critical habitat for isolated populations of native brook trout.”   Photos courtesy of Jennifer Courtwright:  Brook trout on L; casting a net to catch insects on R. 
We lost our most excellent Wilderness Coordinator to the lure of a job at JMU.  For the last six years, Carol Lena gave presentations, maintained the web site, attended meetings, researched mineral rights, and many other jobs.  We miss her sweet personality as well as her work.  But she will shine at JMU and earn more $ to boot! 

A simple thank-you seems highly inadequate to compensate Dr. James Murray and his ever faithful sidekick Bess for their efforts in putting out the VWC newsletter for the last decade and a half, not to mention their role in establishing and nurturing VWC over the last 45 years.  The Murrays continue to be the bedrock of the VWC, but have turned the newsletter over to Chris Bolgiano.  For several years in the 1980s, Chris was the newsletter editor under Ernie Dickerman's tutelage.  Time will tell if she can transfer the accuracy and passion of the printed newsletters to the digital realm.  Please help her out by sending wilderness news to
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