Make Shenandoah Mountain a National Scenic Area

Stronger protections will help wildlife and preserve clean water sources.


Cover Photo: “Shenandoah Mountains” by Pat rick Breenvia Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


Shenandoah Mountain is home to some of the most beautiful views in the country. It lies in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia inside of the George Washington National forest. There are over 150 miles of trails and over 10 peaks that rise above 4,000 feet. If you stand on Reddish Knob, the highest peak at 4,397 feet, you’ll have a 360 degree panoramic view of the entire valley.  In March 2022, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine introduced the Shenandoah Mountain Act of 2022, which would protect over 90,000 acres of land. 

There are several rivers in the proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area, including the Dry River, the Potomac River and the James River. The latter two feed into the Chesapeake Bay, which has been under strain due to human activity, such as polluted stormwater runoff, climate change and deforestation. Protecting our rivers is important to conserve precious freshwater resources.

“Beautiful New Landsat Mosaic of Chesapeake Bay” by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr CC BY 2.0 

Shenandoah Mountain is also home to numerous flora and fauna, including over 15 rare species of plants and 13 species of animals. One example is the Cow Knob Salamander, which is found only on Shenandoah Mountain. There are over 196 species of birds and 41 species of fish residing in the area, providing hours of bird watching and lots of catch and release fishing opportunities. Additionally, Shenandoah has one of the largest living populations of black bears in the country.

“Plethodon punctatus – Cow Knob Salamander” by John P Clare via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

Over 400 local businesses and organizations support the creation of a Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area. 

This Act would keep all the existing roads open for hikers and mountain bikers, while protecting the area from industrial development. The Act would also protect the rivers and ensure that Chesapeake Bay receives more healthy, unpolluted water.

“Shenandoah Mountains” by Patrick Breen via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Senate should pass the Shenandoah Mountain Act of 2022 so that we can make sure future generations can enjoy the views atop Shenandoah Mountain. 

“Shenandoah Mountains” by Patrick Breen via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This blog was coauthored by Environment America intern Jeanie Kim


Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America

Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.

Elly Boehmer

State Director, Environment Virginia

A former canvass director and organizer with Impact, Elly now directs Environment Virginia's efforts to promote clean air, clean water and open spaces in Virginia. Elly lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she enjoys gardening, photography, hiking and rollerblading with her dog.