Don Hopey captured the enthusiasm of West Virginians over the new wilderness areas in Monongahela National Forest ("Wild, Wonderful West Virginia Gets Wilder," April 12). It is high time that Pennsylvanians were afforded a similar cause for excitement.
As he noted, Friends of Allegheny Wilderness has been leading a citizen effort to protect some of the wilderness left in Allegheny National Forest, located 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. When the U.S. Forest Service issued a plan for the forest, 6,800 of the 8,200 public comments urged protection of more wilderness in the Allegheny. Many pointed out the need for greater balance between protected areas and lands available to the oil and gas and logging industries. So far only 2 percent of the forest has been protected as wilderness, and the Friends of Allegheny Wilderness citizen proposal would take that figure to just 12 percent.