We started off with the businessy business (reviewing the financial report, approving a budget for next year) and then listened to Dave Saville report on strong membership and annual fund appeal response and review a number of graphs showing progress over the years.
We also had Program Director Cory Chase report on what he has been doing. It was a lot.
Luanne McGovern reported on activity at the Legislature with a slide show outlining the major bills being considered so far, showing the coordination between WVHC and WV E-Council priorities, and giving helpful links to follow legislative bills of interest, etc. (story, p. 15). She identified E-Council lobbyists as Lucia Valentine and Hannah King.
Luanne has been in touch with the director of WVU Water Institute about an in-person presentation on the work they are conducting on recovery of Rare Earth Elements from Acid Mine Drainage at the Mt Storm pilot project.
Perry Bryant expressed concern about what directions Congress might take with regard to climate change now that the Build Back Better legislation appears to be stalled or stopped entirely. Especially concerning are conflicting messages from our own Senator Manchin. Perry will attempt to draw up a list of can-dos for publication.
Kent Karriker updated the board on several Public Lands Committee activities.
1) Forest Service concerns: A legal complaint was filed re: the Gauley Healthy Forest Initiative and FOIA action. A formal objection was filed re: the draft Greenbrier East project due to the inadequate analysis of Endangered Species, especially the endangered Candy Darter. WVHC decided not to file a complaint on the Upper Elk/Gauley Mtn area since the Forest Service adopted some acceptable changes in response to comments.
2) ABRA (Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance) activities now focus primarily on the Conservation Hub Project reviewed in detail at the October 2021 zoom Fall Review. Some smaller portion of the budget is dedicated to tracking the restoration of the now defunct Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Rick Webb mentioned several individual items within the National Forest Integrity Project. There is also an effort afoot to incorporate ORV/ATV concerns into the Conservation Hub Project. With the retirement of Lew Freeman, ABRA will continue under the guidance of a Board.
Dave Johnston of the Dolly Sods Wilderness Stewards subcommittee reviewed current activities monitoring campsite use and the solitude study; expressed hope to have 100 volunteers to help as trail head stewards with the greatest need at Bear Rocks which has the highest usage of the three trailheads; and reiterated the ‘front country’ concerns about parking and space.
In matters of Extractive Industries Cindy Rank highlighted two specific coal related items: 1) a successful ruling from the court that determined Lexington Coal Company was responsible for discharging illegal amounts of selenium and ionic pollution from two Mingo County mines (story on p. 16) ; 2) ongoing negotiations with the Special Receiver for bankrupt ERP Coal who proposed the reclamation company working to reclaim ERP forfeited sites wanted to be allowed additional mining incidental to reclamation, a proposal at odds with our agreed upon settlement. As for gas related actions, WVHC joined several other conservation groups in a court challenge of WV DEP’s 401 certification for MVP stream crossing plans (story on p.9).