By John McFerrin
For the last time in what we hope will be a long time, we popped into our Zoom boxes for the regular summer meeting of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Board of Directors.
The highlight was that we got to meet our new Program Director, Cory Chase. He has a long job description, centered around organizational development, committee coordination, and working with the Public Lands Committee on the advocacy program for the Dolly Sods Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest. He had just started; among his first tasks was calling each officer and Board member. He told a little bit about himself. For a short biography, see the story on p. 12.
Rick Webb reported on the most recent projects of the Appalachian Blue Ridge Alliance Conservation Hub: (1) the Cranberry Spring Creek project and the Upper Cheat River Project. Rick showed the web site for the Conservation Hub’s review of these projects. It has maps and lists areas of concern. Kent Karriker is doing comments on the Upper Cheat River Project.
Larry Thomas noted the continuing threat posed by All Terrain Vehicles on public lands. The plethora of bills in the most recent Legislative session designed to promote the All Terrain Vehicle industry, particularly on public lands, demonstrates the threat. He wants to make All Terrain Vehicles, particularly on public lands, a project for the ABRA Conservation Hub. He also wants to develop a power point so that we will have something to show at the Legislature if it takes up this issue.
Larry noted that the Renewable Energy committee has been inactive of late but he wants it to be more active, including getting new members. Anyone who wishes to join should contact Larry where they would be welcomed with open arms.
Dave Johnston, who has been coordinating our Dolly Sods Wilderness Stewards, was not at the meeting because he was out at Dolly Sods, doing outreach. There have been some trainings for Dolly Sods Wilderness Stewards and they have begun their work. We have several volunteers with a goal of 100 volunteers.
Ellie Bell reported on the proposed NIOSH facility that may be built near Mace, WV. NIOSH wants to build a pretend mine on the site that it can use for testing on blasting and other mine safety issues. Ellie and the like minded are writing letters; it is their position that mine safety research is a worthwhile endeavor but that this is not a good place to do it. They are working with our United States Senators in efforts to find another, better place. They are also writing letters to Senators and encouraging others to do so. Snowshoe Resort has taken a position in opposition to the project. The final Environmental Impact Statement is out and they are reviewing that. There is another short video about it. See the link in the box on p.
The Climate Change Committee had prepared a letter to send to our Congressional delegation with some suggestions of policies that the United Stat4es should adopt to combat climate change. While there is no specific legislative proposal that would enact these suggestions, sending the letter does remind the delegation that we are concerned about this issue and that there is a constituency for these kinds of measures. After substantial discussion about some of the proposed suggested polices, we voted to send the letter.
Treasurer Bob Marshall presented the financial report. There was not anything remarkable or out of the ordinary, just the usual getting and spending.
Hugh Rogers reported on Corridor H. There is not anything that could rightfully be called a new development. Instead, things are simmering along as we remain ready to respond when there actually is any new development.
We had been up in the air about whether to have a Fall Review. We cancelled the one for last year because of the pandemic. This year we decided to plunge ahead and try to have one. The most recent Fall Review we had planned, and Covid cancelled, was at Twin Falls State Park. We decided to pick up where we left off so far as planning was concerned. We hope to arrange things so that people can participate either in person or virtually.
Dave Saville presented a report. He reported that the number of new members was larger during the first half of 2021 than it had been in several years.
Voice editor John McFerrin noted that the July issue of The Highlands Voice was the first issue in at least ten years when he had not written any big stories and had only written one tiny box story. He expressed appreciation for those who contributed.