Allegheny Defense Project ...working for the protection of the natural heritage of the Alleghenies...

Hellbender Journal Summer/Fall 2001

 

Allegheny Wild!

What's Your Vision of a Wild Allegheny?

By Rachel Martin

You're walking down a trail in the premier backpacking area in Pennsylvania. You've been hiking for four days now, and have yet to cross a road, or hear a car. It's getting near nightfall, and time to make camp. You pitch your tent beneath a 150-year-old hemlock tree, and pause as you see a fisher's sleek outline dart between two sandstone boulders in the distance. Once inside your tent, you hear the lonesome wail of a gray wolf in the distance.

A multiple-day hiking trip? No cars? No roads? WOLVES?! Where in Pennsylvania is this place?

Unfortunately this place doesn't exist - yet. This is just one vision of the Allegheny National Forest twenty-five years from now.

The Allegheny Defense Project has recently launched our Allegheny Wild! Campaign which seeks to develop a pro-active vision of Pennsylvania's only national forest through a grassroots effort. At its core, Allegheny Wild! will advocate for an end to commercial extraction, designation of wilderness, a pesticide-free forest, improved low-impact recreation opportunities, and greater protections for the habitats of rare, threatened, and endangered species.

The campaign is based around the Forest Service's revision of its 15-year-old Forest Plan. The Forest Plan dictates the way in which the national forest will be managed for the next ten to fifteen years. The current Forest Plan for the Allegheny National Forest emphasizes clearcut logging, tree farming, road-building, and oil and gas development over wildlife, recreation, and watersheds.

Allegheny Wild! seeks to shift this management from resource-extraction to ecosystem restoration. We will be using the opportunity provided by the Forest Plan revision process to put forth a more ecologically-sensitive, restorative plan for the national forest.

The Forest Service will not be starting the Forest Plan revision process until 2003, but now is the time to begin the process of imagining a wild Allegheny. To do that, we are asking for your input about what a wild Allegheny would entail for you. Send us your ideas for protecting remote hunting and fishing areas, designating more Wilderness, controlling invasive species, improving old and establishing new hiking trails, defining canoe trails, and so on. Allegheny Wild! is an alternative that takes its cues from citizens rather than corporations.

Over the course of the next year, ADP will be holding public meetings throughout the region to get more detailed input about how national forest landholders want to see their land managed. Look for dates, places, and times coming soon on our website at www.alleghenydefense.org. Contact us to set up a roadshow date near you. Send e-mail or call the ADP at info@alleghenydefense.org or (814) 223-4996 to get on our Allegheny Wild! information list. Additionally, next summer, after we have collected information about possible protected areas, we will need your help in getting out in the woods to learn more about them on the ground.

As Howard Zahniser, Allegheny-area native and author of the 1964 Wilderness Act said, "Working to preserve into perpetuity is a great inspiration...We are not fighting progress. We are making it."

We are looking forward to working with you to make progress toward an Allegheny Wild!

Photo art by Rachel Martin

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