George Washington Forest Plan Revision: FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions


Why is the Plan Being Revised?

The George Washington National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) has been in use for 18 years. The 1993 revision was a major effort that involved the participation of many stakeholders. The purpose of this revision is to examine current management direction, determine which areas need to be changed, and to figure out how best to make those changes. We need your participation to assist us in determining which areas to improve upon.

How do I Participate in the Planning Process?

The Forest Service will focus on a collaborative framework to provide opportunities for everyone to learn, build relationships and trust, and work towards developing desired conditions for the forest. Therefore, the best opportunity is to participate in one of our public workshops. In addition, there will be opportunities to provide written comments on draft documents and analyses as they are prepared. A formal 90-day comment period will take place when the proposed Forest Plan is completed.

Where can I Get More Information?

For more Information about the plan revision and draft documents visit our website:

Planning Team Contacts:
Your local District Ranger
Karen Overcash, Planning Team Leader
Ken Landgraf, Planning Staff Officer
JoBeth Brown, Public Affairs Officer
(540) 265-5100

Written comments should be addressed to:
George Washington Plan Revision
George Washington & Jefferson National Forests
5162 Valleypointe Parkway
Roanoke, VA 24019

What are the restrictions on use and management activities in designated Wilderness?

There is very good information about wilderness at which is a Web site jointly managed by the University of Montana and the four federal agencies that manage wilderness. You can do the following activities in wilderness areas:  hike, backpack, camp, climb mountains, ride horses, hunt, fish, ski, raft, canoe, take pictures, view wildlife and stargaze. In short, most types of recreational uses are allowed in Wilderness, except those needing mechanical transport or motorized equipment

Mechanical Transport.  Any contrivance for moving people or material in or over land, water, or air, having moving parts, that provides a mechanical advantage to the user, and that is powered by a living or nonliving power source.  This includes, but is not limited to, sailboats, hang gliders, parachutes, bicycles, game carriers, carts, and wagons.  It does not include wheelchairs when used as necessary medical appliances.  It also does not include skis, snowshoes, rafts, canoes, sleds, travois, or similar primitive devices without moving parts.

Motorized Equipment.  Machines that use a motor, engine, or other nonliving power sources.  This includes, but is not limited to, such machines as chain saws, aircraft, snowmobiles, generators, motor boats, and motor vehicles.  It does not include small battery or gas powered handcarried devices such as shavers, wristwatches, flashlights, cameras, stoves, or other similar small equipment.  There is a variation of this issue which involves personal use of cell phones, satellite phones, walkie-talkies, portable music players, and a variety of other electronic devices which can distract from the wilderness experience of others. These items, considered ‘personal use’ items, are not prohibited by law or agency policy, even if they contain small motors.

Why do hunters and anglers pay user fees and other users of the forest do not pay fees?

Hunters and anglers do not pay fees to the National Forest.  Hunters and anglers pay a fee to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of West Virginia, to hunt or fish on National Forest System lands in the respective states.  These fees are authorized under state laws (not federal laws) and were put in place to restore and enhance fishing and hunting opportunities on the National Forests in the respective states.  In Virginia, this is referred to as the National Forest stamp and is a fee of $4 in addition to the regular hunting/fishing license fee.  In West Virginia, the fee is incorporated into the standard resident hunting or fishing license (it is an additional fee of $2 for non-residents).  These fees are used for stocking, habitat improvements and law enforcement on National Forest System lands.   In West Virginia, these fees are used by state personnel for their work on the National Forests.  In Virginia, these fees are used by the state personnel and some of the fees are sometimes transferred to the National Forest for cooperative projects than benefit hunting and fishing.

Users of developed recreation sites do pay fees for camping or parking at developed sites. 

Who decides what will be in the Forest Plan?

The Planning Rule determines the requirements for completing a Forest Plan Revision.  The Regional Forester for the Southern Region is the responsible official for development and approval of a plan. 

How do I get a seasonally closed road open for a longer period of time?

Issues such as this are decided through a site specific analysis conducted by the staff at the Ranger Districts.  Contact your local District Ranger to discuss concerns with road closures on specific roads. 

What are reserved and outstanding mineral rights and how do they affect National Forest management?

Mineral rights are privately-owned on about 19% of the Forest in tracts scattered across the Forest. Within this 19% total, 72% are minerals rights outstanding to third parties and 28% are mineral rights reserved by the grantor at the time the U.S. government acquired the land. The land acquired was, and remains, subject to these pre-existing private mineral rights. Thus, the Forest Plan is subject to these valid existing rights. The exercise of private mineral rights to explore and develop privately-owned minerals on the Forest is a private decision.

Questions on wilderness, potential wilderness and roadless areas

Questions on the Draft Plan