The January 22, 2017, meeting was the usual mix of business and hearing about issues.
In the President’s report, President Ellis mentioned a few items of interest. We agreed to Board Meeting dates for 2018 of January 21. April 22, July 21, and October 21.
Jim VanGundy is still working on getting us a new Board member from the caving group. He has had some communication and is making progress but we are not quite there yet.
Bob Marshall presented the treasurer’s report and the budget for 2017. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the expenses or the revenue. We continue to exceed expectations in financial support from our members. The Board is always heartened by this ongoing indication that the members approve of what we are doing.
Bob then presented the budget for 2017. It, too, was unremarkable. Mostly it continues our projected revenue and expenses as we had done in the past. The only unusual item was an additional expense for the 50th Anniversary celebration. We are anticipating a dedicated gift which will pay a significant portion of the cost. Jim VanGundy moved that we approve the budget.
Frank reported on progress and remaining issues with the 9th edition of the Hiking Guide. We are still a long way from being ready to print the 9th edition but we are moving forward. At the last meeting we only had a hard copy version of the text; since then we have digitized the text. Hugh has begun editing some parts of it. We have gotten some suggestions for improvements from members which we are incorporating. We still don’t have pictures selected, etc. and there is more editing and layout to do but we are moving forward. If we run out of books before we get the 9th edition finished we will do a limited reprint of the 8th edition.
In matters of membership, Beth Little distributed reports comparing membership numbers over the past several years. While we do not have as many members as we have had in some past years, we have more than we had in either of the previous two years.
In matters of outreach, Cindy Rank reported that the committee had been working on celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy in 2017. The celebration will be September 15 through 17, 2017, at Canaan Valley. Of course, everyone is invited. At the same time, we wanted to make sure we invited everyone who had been especially active in the past. The Committee had prepared and circulated a list of people and organizations whom we should extend special invitations to. We talked about that list and brainstormed additions. We also tossed around names of possible speakers.
Cindy Rank also reported that we are going to contract with Dave Saville to coordinate it.
Finally in outreach, we had on display a handsome new banner. It is about two feet wide and five feet high with our name, what we do, and a lovely picture. We can use it to call attention to ourselves at tabling events, mark our spot, etc. We liked it so much that we are going to order another one.
In matters legislative, Frank reported on the decisions on the West Virginia Environmental Council concerning activity at the West Virginia Legislature. This included a list of issues of importance that the WVEC lobby team will pursue. These included water quality standards, energy efficiency, disclosure of campaign funding, siting rules for electricity generators, and land ownership issues. This year the Environmental Council has a whole new lobby team.
Marilyn thought we should be better informed on legislative matters at the national level. She will attempt to arrange meetings between WVHC members and our Congressional representatives. She is also going to make contacts with national groups who are advocating on issues of interest to us and see what we might be able to do to support their efforts.
On matters of public lands, we discussed the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and its route through the highlands, particularly the Monongahela National Forest. We would like to sponsor some outings in March along the route. Jim and Jackie will work on a self-guided tour. It would make information about the pipeline available and keyed to particular spots along the proposed route so that people could go there and see. We also hope to have leaders for some outings along the proposed route.
The Forest Service has recently written a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) objecting to its proposed timetable for a decision on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. FERC wants to go ahead and make a decision before the Forest Service has decided on the special use permit that would be required to cross the National Forest. The Forest Service says FERC should slow down and wait for it to decide first. We are going to write a letter supporting the Forest Service in its position.
In matters of extractive industries, Cindy Rank suggested reading The Highlands Voice as the best way to keep up with what we are up to. She mentioned the Fola Coal litigation and the Stream Protection Rule as two recent items of interest.
Cindy Ellis had attended a multi-day meeting on gas and gas pipelines. There is much enthusiasm for getting things done. Much of the discussion centered on eminent domain.
For lunch we had wraps (two choices available), broccoli salad, cookies, and brownies, all catered by Ms. Groovy’s Catering and served by the proprietor, Ms. Groovy herself, Jeni Burns.
The door prize was a mug, cream colored with a picture of a dragonfly. On the bottom was the signature of the potter herself, our own Jackie Burns. John won.