By John McFerrin
The Board was hampered by the absence of some of our leaders. In spite of this, we managed to address some ways we could make the organization run better both now and in the future. We also got some updates on issues of interest and made some decisions about things we would support.
President Larry Thomas was absent because his brother is seriously ill and needed Larry’s presence. Vice President Marilyn Shoenfeld was also absent at another meeting. Being fully aware that Nature Abhors a Vacuum and not wishing to annoy Mother Nature, Hugh Rogers boldly strode forth into the breach, called the meeting to order, noted the presence of a quorum, and presided over the meeting.
On deciding how the organization could run better, Dave Saville first brought us up to date on current membership. He began by noting that “membership” is a subjective term. We have dues paying members, complimentary members, trial memberships, lifetime memberships, people whose membership dues are overdue, people who do not pay dues but give to the fund appeal, etc. How many members we have depends upon how we count all those categories. So that we could make a meaningful comparison, he had reported a report of only dues paying members for each year since 2010. This shows us that, using this measure, we are stable since then.
Moving beyond this, we talked about things we could do to make our mailing list more accurate. We send out complimentary issues of the Voice to members of the West Virginia Legislature and to some agency employees. We are going to review the list to make sure addresses are still current, etc. We are also going to start requesting that the Post Office return to us any undeliverable Voices. It costs us to get back the undeliverable ones but it is the only way to make sure that our mailing list is current.
So far as the future is concerned, we had a session last year on the future of the organization and what direction we should take. We formed a committee to revisit the results of that session and think about how we might move forward.
We noted with sadness that LeJay Graffious has resigned his Board seat. He serves on several boards and felt as if he was not making a substantial contribution to ours. He resigned so that someone who could make a bigger contribution could take his seat.
In the Voiceeditor’s report, John noted that he thought that the July issue was an excellent one, mostly because it was a team effort. Several Board members wrote or suggested stories.
Treasurer Bob Marshall presented matters financial. There was nothing remarkable in the presentation: money in, money out with an adequate amount of each. Frank Young reported that the West Virginia Environmental Council is in the process of soliciting ideas about legislative priorities for next session. There will soon be a questionnaire for us to fill out on legislative priorities. The Environmental Council will be hiring lobbyists in the October and will be requesting money to help fund that effort. It has a year around, but part-time lobbyist, Karan Ireland, who monitors interim sessions on an as needed basis.
On matters of public lands, Kent Karriker talked about projects on the Monongahela National Forest that are in various stages of development: the Panther Ridge Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Project, the Big Rock Project, the Spruce Mountain Grouse Management Area, and the Greenbrier Southeast Project. We had previously filed objections to the Panther Ridge Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Project; they are described more completely in the July issue of The Highlands Voice. We have just recently filed objections to the Big Rock Project. Our objections are not outright opposition. There are, however, aspects of the projects where the analysis could be more thorough and some matters given closer attention. Our objections point those out.
On the Spruce Mountain Grouse Management Area, we are having ongoing discussions with the Forest Service. Some of our suggestions are making their way into the final plans for the project as a result of these discussions. For a little more information, see the story on p. 2 of this issue.
As a general matter, there is a nationwide Forest Service initiative to increase timber production on the National Forests. Since the Forest Service has not increased funding for such an increase, it forces individual Forests to do more of the planning, etc. that is required for timber management with less money. This will result in some skimpy analysis and cutting of corners on Forest Service projects.
Kent also noted that the Big Run Bog pump storage project has returned. The developers intend to redesign the project so as to avoid Big Run Bog. Although no detailed plans are available, it appears that the trout stream in the area would still be imperiled.
We had as our special guests Angie Rosser of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Lew Freeman of the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance. They brought us up to date on the activities of the Compliance Surveillance Initiative. (See the story on p. 1).
The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has supported the Compliance Surveillance Initiative financially in the past and is considering future support although we made no decisions at this meeting.
Dave Saville talked about the balsam fir planting program and how the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy might provide additional support. He described the challenges involved in gathering seeds and an initiative to start a Seed Production Area within Canaan Valley State Park. He also discussed a conference and workshop in October on spruce plantings as well as a need for more trees and organizational expenses for a Balsam Fir Planting Program on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. With all this going on and all the need, we decided to support this effort financially.
Cindy Ellis described a program on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge to monitor woodcocks. This involves equipping woodcocks with little backpacks with transmitters so that researchers can monitor their activities. (See the story on p. 5) We decided to make a donation to support this effort.
In matters of outreach, Cindy Ellis reported that there are 176 public libraries in West Virginia. We have distributed Hiking Guides to 60 of them. The project continues, with a goal of sending to all libraries by year’s end.
Uninvited (but welcome nonetheless) Guests
Here are the 23 species seen, heard, or both during, before, or after the Board meeting at Saranam Retreat Center, Randolph County, West Virginia, US
Black-billed Cuckoo 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
Eastern Phoebe 2
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
Yellow-throated Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Blue Jay 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
House Wren 1
American Robin 2
Brown Thrasher 1
American Goldfinch 1
Field Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
Eastern Towhee 1
American Redstart 1
Magnolia Warbler 2
Northern Cardinal 1
Observations by Cindy Ellis