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Young West Virginian a “Wilderness Hero”

November 8, 2007

Shepherdstown, WV – A young West Virginia man is receiving national recognition as a "Wilderness Hero." Brandon Dennison, a senior at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, leads youth groups on wilderness hikes for his Presbyterian church. When he heard about an effort to get federal wilderness protections for some special areas in the Monongahela National Forest, he decided to take the next step by getting the kids in his youth group involved.

"I told the kids, 'Let's go on our annual camping trip, and if you think these areas are worthy of being protected as wilderness, we can do kind of a mission trip for the earth -- go to D.C., lobby our Congressional delegation.' The kids were overwhelmingly supportive and excited about that."

Dennison and 17 members of the group made the trip to Capitol Hill and visited with the state's delegation, and he believes their effort made a positive impression on the lawmakers. He says his love for the West Virginia wilderness started with trips with his dad to Dolly Sods and other parts of the "Mon," and he wants to pass that on to the next generation. Dennison also sees protecting wild areas as an important part of his faith.

"We are stewards of God's earth; it is our responsibility to take that seriously. Wilderness areas offer opportunities for solitude and prayer that no other venue can."

The "Wilderness Hero" award is given jointly, by the Campaign for America's Wilderness and The Wilderness Society.

Rob Ferrett/John Robinson, Public News Service - WV