Board Highlights

The spring Board meeting of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy was more informational than decisional.  We had the usual presentations on the status of the organization:  financial (not broke; not flush either); membership (stable); webmaster (good shape).

In the President’s report, Larry talked about some of the things he has coming up.

On May 4 he will participate in a tour of the Fernow Experimental Forest.  He is interested in seeing the spot where they tried land application of drilling waste water several years ago and killed most of the vegetation.  He would like to see how the area has recovered. (Note:  it was a mess; see the story and pictures in the August, 2011, edition of The Highlands Voice.)

Frank Young reported on matters legislative.  On the substance of legislation he referred to the April issue of The Highlands Voice.    He reported that the West Virginia Environmental Council will soon be soliciting ideas about legislative priorities for next session.  It will be hiring lobbyists in the fall and will be requesting money to help fund that effort.

Cindy Ellis reported that she had been active with Citizens for Clean Election.  She did not talk extensively about its work but did distribute a handout describing it. Frank Young and Patty Gundrum are stepping in to meet with CCE and try to keep us informed with its efforts.

On matters of public lands, Kent Karriker talked about the proposed Big Run Pump Storage Hydroproject.  To see what he said, see the story on the first page of this issue.

The Public Lands Committee is also continuing to monitor projects in the National Forest.  We commented on three projects last fall, including the Spruce Mountain Grouse Management Area.  It appears that the Forest Service took our comments to heart and made some modifications in the project.  There are still some difficulties with some things, including how the plan addresses Flying Squirrel habitat.

There has been no apparent movement on the other two projects on which we filed official comments.  However, Kent Karriker recently attended a pre-project stakeholders meeting for the upcoming Upper Greenbrier Southeast project.  The project will be mostly a timber management project, but the Forest Service is also interested in pursuing spruce restoration where it is feasible.  No specific proposals have been made yet.

Marilyn Shoenfeld reported on planning for a Fall Review.  All the state park lodges were full so they reserved Jerico Bed and Breakfast (with cabins) near Marlinton.  They are arranging meeting rooms and intend to plan a program that could attract more people than just Board members and their families.

Rick Webb reported that the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition has mostly gone dormant with all the action shifting to the Compliance Surveillance Initiative.  It has a new and improved web site (  There one can see a Power Point.  CSI is doing training, working on a report on slope failures, and have filed lots of enforcement complaints.  There are field coordinators for Virginia and for West Virginia.

The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has committed $75,000 to the Compliance Surveillance Initiative; we have not paid the entire amount yet.  Rick reported on how that money was being spent, whether we had spent our money prudently, etc.

We talked in general about sign on letters.  Other groups regularly solicit our support for an issue of concern and ask us to endorse a position.  In the past, Larry has reviewed the letters and decided if they are consistent with positions we have taken.  If they are, then he signs on.  One problem he has is that the letters often come to him with very little time to respond before a deadline He is not entirely happy with this system. We are going to try a system in which Larry responds to requests that we cannot sign on without some time to consider the issue.  He will then send the requests to relevant committee chairs for review before deciding.

We also addressed the makeup of the Board.  Jeff Witten is now the representative of the Shavers Fork Coalition, replacing Jim VanGundy.  Since this makes Jim VanGundy a free agent, we immediately snapped him up as an at large Board member.  George Beetham’s health has prevented him from coming to Board meetings and he has indicated his interest in resigning.  Now we are in a position to accept George’s resignation and Larry will appoint Jim to fill George’s unexpired term.