Listen to a 1-hour Virginia Outdoor Adventures Podcast featuring Friends of Shenandoah Mountain Co-Chair Lynn Cameron. Lynn talks about outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities and gives an update on our campaign to designate Shenandoah Mountain as a National Scenic Area.
Lou Henry Hoover, wife of President Herbert Hoover, helped her good friend May Flather start a Nation's Capital Girl Scout Camp in the new Shenandoah National Forest in 1930. Located in the lower North River Gorge near Stokesville, it was known as Camp May Flather, a "Mountain Camp for Girl Scouts". Now in it's 91st year, the camp is still used by DC Girl Scouts today.
Read local historian Nancy Sorrells' account:
First Lady helped create camp for Girl Scouts
In addition to Nancy Sorrells' story, view photos of Girl Scouts learning new skills and enjoying nature at Camp May Flather, courtesy of the Alan Cramer Collection and George Washington National Forest North River Ranger District files.
Read more from our our series on Exploring Shenandoah Mountain's History:
Deep within Ramseys Draft Wilderness along Jerry's Run are the remains of a Potomac Appalachian Trail Club shelter. Tom Engle of Middlebrook has written a story about the fascinating history of Sexton Shelter and its many lives.
History of Sexton Shelter by Tom Engle
This article is a welcome addition our series on the history of Shenandoah Mountain.
2020 began with our campaign making significant progress until Covid-19 put everything on hold. Earlier this year, Friends of Shenandoah Mountain made presentations about our National Scenic Area proposal to Highland Chamber of Commerce, Highland Tourism Council, Bolar Ruritans (Highland County), Stonewall Ruritans (McDowell), Harrisonburg Rotary, and Massanutten-Rockingham Rotary. We received new endorsements from the Highland Chamber of Commerce, the Highland Tourism Council, Bolar Ruritan Club, High’s Restaurant, Riven Rock Farm near Monterey, and Catalbe Farm in Headwaters. We also reached out to neighboring landowners in Highland and found solid support among those we talked to.
We had many more presentations and outreach activities scheduled, but due to Covid, we postponed them until it’s safe to gather in groups again.
Here’s where our Shenandoah Mountain campaign stands now:
Covid-19 may have slowed our momentum, but it has not weakened our resolve to permanently protect the Shenandoah Mountain area for the benefit of future generations.
Blue Ridge County Magazine provided an update on our campaign in its June 2020 issue:
Photo of view of Highland County from Confederate Breastworks by Han Park.
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2020
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Place: Mountain House Picnic Area on Rt. 250 about 4.5 miles west of West Augusta, VA
Join us for a hike (up to 4 miles) in Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness to see early Spring wildflowers. We expect to see about 30 species, depending on the timing. The trail is level and easy, with 2 or 3 stream crossings.
The trip will be led by John Holden, a Virginia Master Naturalist. John has led many hikes and wildflower walks, and this is one of his very favorite areas.
Read more details and sign up!
Also, stay tuned for our annual Shenandoah Mountain Wildflower Walks, cosponsored by Headwaters Master Naturalists, on Sat., April 25.
The Staunton City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution of support for the proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area (SMNSA) at its Jan. 23 meeting. The resolution reaffirms the City's desire to include Staunton Dam, Elkhorn Lake, and surrounding National Forest land in the SMNSA, provided the City can "access, operate, maintain, replace and improve its existing water facilities in the proposed scenic area and, if necessary, to construct and maintain new water infrastructure."
Staunton stands to benefit from permanent protection of the Shenandoah Mountain area. National Scenic Area
designation will safeguard the City's water supply and protect outdoor recreation opportunities, scenic beauty, and wildlife habitat. All this contributes to a high quality of life for City residents and helps draw visitors that support the tourism industry in Staunton and in neighboring counties and cities.
SMNSA legislation will make this special area off limits to fracking for natural gas and other industrial development that would mar the natural character of the area and threaten water resources.
Resolutions of support from local governments are a crucial component of our campaign to protect Shenandoah Mountain. Augusta County Board of Supervisors has also endorsed the proposal.
On Thursday, Jan. 9, the Highland County Chamber of Commerce endorsed the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area (SMNSA) proposal following a presentation by Friends Co-Chair Lynn Cameron.
Of the 90,000-acre proposal, 6,000 acres on the western flank of Shenandoah Mountain is in Highland County. Designation of the SMNSA will help draw tourists to the western part of the Shenandoah Valley and into Highland County, which will help the county's tourism economy. The permanent designation will protect clean water, outdoor recreational resources, and wildlife habitat.
Once enacted, the SMNSA will be off limits to industrial development, like fracking for natural gas, mining, and other development that would mar the natural character of the area and threaten crucial resources it supplies to the surrounding counties and cities.
Visitors to the SMNSA will continue to enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, horseback riding, and scenic driving, just as they do now.
The proposal is entirely on National Forest land and will not affect any private property.
Seventy years ago, torrential rains on Shenandoah Mountain put 80 4-H campers at risk, wiped out the community of Stokesville, and left productive farms along the North River in ruins. Some families lost everything they had. Yet, neighbors and communities banded together to help each other.
Many of the families that experienced the flood have passed stories down from one generation to another. These stories are about devastation and loss, but also about acts of heroism and kindness.
This program will feature two speakers, followed by local flood survivors sharing their stories.
When: Wed., Oct. 2 at 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Where: Sangerville Towers Ruritan Hall, 38 Emmanuel Church Rd, Mt Solon, VA 22843
Refreshments will be served.
Free and open to the public.
Sponsored by Sangerville Towers Ruritan Club and Friends of Shenandoah Mountain
Read "The Battle for Shenandoah Mountain" by Andrew Jenner in Blue Ridge Outdoors, September 2019.
This article on the backstory for the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area Proposal gets deep into the weeds about how it all got started, the ongoing collaboration, and what else still needs to happen.
Link to the article.