With its close proximity to Washington, DC and other eastern cities, the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest is one of the most visited Forests in the East. The Southern Appalachian Mountains that lie within it are rich in history and legend. From famous frontiersmen like Daniel Boone to folk singers like John Denver, these rugged mountains have inspired generations of Americans. They are also remarkably wild given how close they are to major population centers on the East Coast. Numerous Wilderness Areas provide solitude and respite for year-round visitors.
Through a unique partnership between the NFF, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) and the Naval Academy, many of the Wilderness Areas on Virginia’s George Washington-Jefferson National Forest will be receiving much needed trail and campsite maintenance and visitor use monitoring through this project. This is the second year that the REI and NFF partnership is supporting this work.
Throughout the summer Naval Academy midshipmen/women will work with SAWS to organize and lead restoration efforts on trails, rehabilitate unauthorized campsites and engage with visitors. The Wilderness Areas and visitor experience will benefit and the midshipmen/women will gain valuable leadership skills that they can use as future Naval Officers.
This innovative partnership highlights how bringing together diverse groups can reap benefits for all.