A Love Note to the Pisgah National Forest
Noura Al-Rajhi, a senior majoring in public relations at the University of Florida, is an intern at the National Wildlife Federation.
I have had my fondest memories on public lands, especially on the peaks of North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest.
As a young girl I was in awe of mountains — partially due to the fact that I grew up in swampy Florida, where there are no mountains in sight. I recall flipping through several National Geographic magazines and falling in love with the images of mountain peaks across the globe. Something about the expansive countryside and towering peaks captivated my imagination at a young age.
It was not until I got into college that I really got into outdoor recreation, particularly backpacking and trail running, thanks to my university outdoor program. It gave me the opportunity to come together with students from diverse backgrounds who shared my same love for exploring our public lands. My favorite memory is summiting Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in Pisgah National Forest and highest peak east of the Mississippi River.
The Pisgah National Forest has allowed for me and many others to experience peace, gratitude and appreciation for public lands, whether it is through summiting peaks, swimming under the many waterfalls or biking through the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Public lands are vital to not only our physical and mental health, but for preserving ecosystems and wildlife.
My love for the mountains as a young girl grew into my passion for advocating and protecting our public lands today. I believe it is important to protect what you enjoy so future generations will be able to experience them, creating their own memories.
That’s where the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) comes in. It has helped support the Pisgah National Forest along with thousands of other cherished landscapes across the country. For over five decades, this conservation initiative has created and maintained parks, forests, hiking and biking trails, wildlife refuges and so much more. The U.S. Senate just voted to permanently fund LWCF. The House is expected to follow suit in July. I’m proud that this wildly popular program will finally get the funding it deserves to protect public places for all Americans to enjoy.
So many of our country’s parks and public lands written about in these love notes would not exist but for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Congress is poised to permanently fund it as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. Follow the movement along at #FundLWCF. Learn more here. Better yet, take action here.
Would you like to write about public lands that you cherish? Please email Mary Jo Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org for guidelines.