A National Monument?
A national monument is a unique designation that gives stronger protection to federal public lands with unique natural, scenic and historic features. National monuments can be designated either by Congress or by the President of the United States. The U.S. Forest Service manages nine national monuments, which are vast, wild landscapes, similar in many ways to the Monongahela National Forest. Common activities in national monuments include hunting, fishing, gathering of wild plants, mountain biking, hiking, camping — the very activities enjoyed on the Monongahela National Forest.
Public lands are managed temporarily, meaning the future of special places in the Monongahela National Forest is uncertain. Current proposals in Congress call for drastic increases in industrial development on National Forest lands across the country. Recently proposed legislation would severely limit public input in National Forest management decisions, and some members of Congress have even proposed selling National Forest lands. The Birthplace of Rivers National Monument would more permanently protect this area from threats that could change the way we use the land or stymie our ability to influence future management.
The best part about a national monument is that the additional protections the designation gives to the area are entirely compatible with existing recreational uses, active forest management and outdoor sporting traditions. In fact, hunters and anglers have been strong supporters of national monuments in places like New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho and California. Put simply, a national monument is not intended to change the area or the way we use it, but rather to make sure it always stays just as special as it is today.
The proposed Birthplace of Rivers National Monument will:
-Be managed by the U.S. Forest Service
-Ensure the permanent viability of quality outdoor recreation, pristine headwaters and rich backcountry
-Preserve access for hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering of wild edible plants
-Encourage active management, including restoration of streams and forests
-Guarantee local communities and stakeholders have a say in future management
-Maintain a role for the timber industry in the area’s management
-Protect all currently-allowed access for sportsmen and the area’s many recreation activities
Get the facts: Forest Service addresses local questions and priorities
In letters from January and March of 2013, U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell wrote Pocahontas County Commissioners concerning management details of national monuments located on National Forest land. Tidwell’s letters address the questions of sportsmen and local communities, giving us reassurances that national monument designation is a perfect fit for West Virginia.
Management of a national monument will be developed with robust public comment from sportsmen and the general public – USFS Chief Tidwell:
“In addition to any management guidance provided in the proclamation itself, a management plan for the monument would be developed post-designation in accord with all public outreach, notice and public input required of any National Forest management plan.”
Hunting and fishing access will be preserved under monument designation – USFS Chief Tidwell:
“Regarding your questions on various management activities — hunting, fishing, trout stocking, camping, vegetative management treatments, etc.,– what is permitted under the current forest plan would typically continue as a National Monument.”
The monument will be managed by the Forest Service, not the Park Service USFS – Chief Tidwell:
“The Forest Service currently manages seven National monuments [update: as of early 2015, USFS manages nine monuments], and there is no reason that a potential monument on the Monongahela National Forest would not also continue to be managed by the Forest Service.”
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will maintain control over all fish and wildlife management activities – USFS Chief Tidwell:
“National Monuments explicitly preserve all valid existing rights and do not enlarge or diminish the existing jurisdiction of any State wildlife and fisheries managing agencies.”
There will not be new fees just because the area becomes a national monument – USFS Chief Tidwell:
“Designation as a national monument does not automatically lead to new fees.”
A monument can help guarantee the future of quality hunting and fishing resources – USFS Chief Tidwell:
“And, because monument designation is statutory, it ensures the permanent viability of the very attributes for which a particular place was designated, whether historical and cultural access and resources, unique fish or wildlife communities, or other aspects of scientific interest.”
A monument is not a “back door attempt” around the Forest Plan – USFS Chief Tidwell:
“Monument designations typically complement the underlying forest management plan, which is developed with public input.”