The Question for the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
Should We Support Wilderness Designation for Dolly Sods North?
Here is an Argument in the Affirmative by Jim Sconyers
Dolly Sods Wilderness
Designated Wilderness in 1975, Dolly Sods preserves a unique alpine ecosystem. Surrounding the Red Creek watershed, this wilderness tract comprises 10,200 acres of the best wildland in West Virginia.
Dolly Sods provides both exceptional wildlife habitat and outstanding recreational opportunities.
Dolly Sods Scenic Area
As a place of "outstanding beauty" (Mon Forest Plan), the Scenic Area displays breathtaking vistas over the heaths, or sods, that give the name to Dolly Sods. This 2500 acre area is very popular for photography, picnicking, berry picking, and scenic enjoyment. Wild blueberry and wild azalea color the landscape in season.
Dolly Sods North
The land known as Dolly Sods North was added to the Monongahela National Forest in 1993. This 6200 acre tract extends and nearly completes protection of the Red Creek watershed. Dolly Sods North is even more typical of the heath balds that through history and folklore gave the name "Sods" to this remote subalpine terrain.
Dolly Sods North has several former road and rail grades from the twentieth and nineteenth centuries. Many of these are now functioning as rough trails.
Although it is part of the national forest, Dolly Sods North has never been given a formal designation to guide decisions about its future. Ecological, esthetic, and recreational values make Dolly Sods North a "natural" for inclusion into the Wilderness.
Wilderness designation gives this area the clearest and firmest protection. Presently it has no management designation at all, and is subject to practices by the Forest Service that are potentially damaging, including hauling in and using heavy equipment. It is also vulnerable to inappropriate "management" practices by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
We want to encourage Congressman Mollohan to lead on Wilderness designation. One way will be to produce a pamphlet (almost ready for printer now), stating who endorses Wilderness for Dolly Sods North (so far WV Sierra Club, WV Rivers Coalition, Trout Unlimited Mountaineer Chapter) with a tear-off card to him. Later we will want to approach him over legislation.
Dolly Sods North is a fabulous resource for all West Virginians and all Americans. Here we can experience true solitude. We can pursue challenging recreation activities every season of the year. And a whole community of nearly alpine animals and plants make their homes here.
** Dolly Sods North possesses outstanding ecological, geological, and recreational attributes.
** The unique and inspiring scenery of Dolly Sods North will be preserved as a legacy for the future of West Virginia and the United States.
** Wilderness is the least expensive management option, and the one most conducive of recovery of this fragile area.
** Long term protection is needed for some areas of the state and nation, as the next century brings more change than the last century.
** As wilderness, Dolly Sods North can fulfill the need for areas which allow opportunities for solitude, with a low likelihood of social encounters, encouraging recovery of the human spirit.
** Hunting and fishing will continue to be allowed in Dolly Sods North, under West Virginia regulations and license requirements.
** Dolly Sods North would virtually complete protection of the Red Creek watershed.
** Wilderness designation can generate economic growth and enhance property values.