HAMBLETON, W.Va.—The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is holding a virtual public informational hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 19 from 6-8 p.m. regarding a permit for core drilling in the Monongahela National Forest in Tucker County for the construction of the Parsons to Davis section of Corridor H.
The drilling would take place within the Big Run and Slip Hill Mill Run watersheds. Collection of core samples would take place along the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) preferred routing of Corridor H to determine the geologic composition of the soils and rock of the area—ultimately informing the design of the highway.
“We encourage all of those concerned about the impacts of core drilling on Big Bun Bog National Natural Landmark and surrounding public lands to attend the hearing and ask questions about the process,” said Marilyn Shoenfeld, president of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. “It is unclear to what extent road building and other land clearing will be required to access these remote drilling locations.”
Core drilling on private land along the preferred route has commenced from Mackeyville to Tucker County High School, where it has stopped, presumably until a determination has been made between a northern alternative or the preferred route, which would diverge at that point. However, a separate permit for core drilling in the Monongahela National Forest has not yet been approved by WVDEP.
Two streams in the area are federally-protected Tier-3 streams— Slip Hill Mill Run and Big Run. Big Run is fed by Big Run Bog, a United States Department of Interior National Natural Landmark that contains many rare and endangered plant species.
“We are concerned that the fragile nature and beauty of the ecosystems will be damaged if core drilling is not performed with care and the least impact possible,” said Susan Rogers Rosenblum, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Rivers Committee chair. “There is a potential that drilling and related discharge could threaten efforts to reclaim these streams and impact critical waters downstream of the drilling sites.”
Pre-registration for the hearing is required. To register, please complete the registration form at: https://forms.gle/S1yDKgpE8qHPcwmJA or call Terry Fletcher at 304-926-0499 ext. 49720 by 5 p.m. the day of the hearing. Registrants will receive a separate email with the link and call-in number for the virtual hearing once the registration deadline passes.
Written comments can also be submitted via email to DEP.Comments@wv.gov
The comment period closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, December 29, 2023. All comments submitted by this date, including those provided at the hearing, will be considered prior to the agency issuing its final determination.
First coming together in 1965, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy promotes, encourages and works for the conservation – including both preservation and wise management – and an appreciation of the natural resources of West Virginia and the Nation.
Contact: Olivia Miller, (304) 704-2997; firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: The entrance to the Allegheny Trail off of Forest Road 18 in Hambleton. (Photo by Olivia Miller)