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A Time To Celebrate West Virginia’s Wild Places

September 24, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The president has declared September to be National Wilderness Month, and next week, local advocates from around the county will be in Washington to talk about protecting America's wild places. Mike Costello is the coordinator of the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition. He says last year Congress added 38,000 acres in six areas to the state's protected wilderness.

"Big Draft, Spice Run and Roaring Plains West [were added]. Plus, it expanded three areas that were already wilderness -- Cranberry, Dolly Sods and Otter Creek. It's a great time to get out as the leaves change colors and explore West Virginia's wild places."

Costello adds without specific protections, some places are vulnerable.

"Across the national forests, we have a lot of special wild places that remain unprotected. And they are subject to threats such as logging, road building and energy development. A lot of administrative changes can come up unless these places are protected as wilderness."

Twenty bills pending before Congress would give permanent protection to two million acres in 11 states. Next week, Costello and other local advocates will be talking about how to move those bills forward. Adding wilderness is opposed by energy and logging companies that fear losing access to those areas.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV