I am writing in support of the proposed birthplace of Rivers National Monument.
This national monument would forever preserve a special part of West Virginia for hunting, trout fishing, and outdoor recreation. It would include popular areas such as Cranberry Wilderness, the Scenic Highway, Tea Creek, Cranberry Glades, and many trout streams, including the Williams and the Cranberry. This rugged swatch of mountains holds the headwaters of six important rivers-a crucial source of clean, cold water.
I was born in nearby Summersville and have long enjoyed the place, which my family has fished and explored for generations, as have many West Virginia families.
This is already public land, part of the Monongahela National Forest, and under this monument, it would continue to be managed by the United States Forest Service (not the National Parks Service). Current access would not change. The monument would increase protection of this area and prevent reckless development. However, private land would not be affected or included in the National Monument, and the rights of property owners would be respected.
This proposal is supported by the West Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, and other groups. A recent study calculates that the new designation would increase annual income by $5.2 million a year in local communities.
A National Monument may be created from existing public lands by Congress as through Presidential Proclamation, as stated by the Antiquities Act. Theodore Roosevelt first championed this law, and he used it to protect national treasures such as the Grand Canyon and Devils Tower. Since 1906, National Monuments has been created by nearly all Republican and Democratic administrations.
Unlike many states, west Virginia has no National Monuments, but I believe our wild, wonderful home deserves one, to recognize our state's beauty, rare natural wonders, and outdoor heritage. This is long overdue. More than most, West Virginians are connected culturally and spiritually to our land. In an increasingly urban, busy, and populous world, the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument would enshrine this special bond for future generations.
I would urge West Virginians to write their members of congress in support of this proposal, and learn more at www.birthplaceofrivers.org