By Cindy Rank
Sunday, June 11th dawned clear and warm – a perfect day for gathering to dedicate the new Forest Preserve in Doddridge County west of Clarksburg, WV.
Decades ago Marie Hall Jones, in her wisdom and with a deep respect for nature and especially old growth timber, bought the Doddridge County property at auction on the courthouse steps. Mrs. Jones then deeded the property to her son, Allen, who recently donated the property to the West Virginia Land Trust to honor his mother’s wishes that the untouched forest be protected forever.
Currently residing in California, Allen and his wife were on hand to offer gracious remarks and to tell the story of how his mother sought out forested land and then out bid determined timber companies to purchase the property at auction.
The nearly 200 acres includes some 15 or more acres of old-growth trees ranging from 160-300 years of age and will be open to the public as a nature preserve once parking and access have been developed.
The several dozen people at the dedication had the option of hiking up the hill through typical West Virginia forested beauty to the highest elevations for a walk through the old trees that escaped timbering some hundreds of years ago.
While there likely are small pockets of old growth throughout West Virginia, it’s particularly gratifying to know that this particular spot in Doddridge County will be preserved for future generations when so much of the county is being blanketed by endless shale gas related drilling, compressor, pipeline, separator, water processing, and salt disposal sites.
I share the feelings expressed by the local residents who attended the dedication and thank Allen and the West Virginia Land Trust for making this preserve possible.