Thoughts from our President

By Marilyn Shoenfeld

I have now spent one month as President of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy; it has been, and still is, an education! 

Luanne McGovern has been appointed to the post of senior vice president. She has also taken on the role of working with the West Virginia Legislature during the executive session to help keep us informed of bills that will harm the environment and to help lobby against their passage. Kudos to Luanne for a job well done, and I look forward to her filling that role.

Working with our wonderful staff has given me a new perspective on the Conservancy’s broad scope of activities. The level of commitment of our Board of Directors, officers, and committee chairs has kept our organization at the forefront of environmental activism for more than 50 years. We plan on at least another fifty.

In looking toward our future, we recognize other sources of income are necessary in order to maintain our sustainability. One area that we have not fully explored is grants. We plan to form a grants committee to explore opportunities and obtain funds from public and private sources. We are turning to our membership to participate in this effort. Surely there are members who have grant-writing experience that they are willing to share with us. Please get in touch with me ( if you wish to help us.

In the same vein, there are many other active committees that may be available for members’ participation. Our Public Lands Committee has worked with the United States Forest Service for many years by commenting on the National Forest Management Plan and having a dialogue with them on various projects. We strive to keep our membership informed on these issues with articles in the Highlands Voice.  

This committee’s latest and probably most successful endeavor is the Dolly Sods Wilderness Stewards Program. The Dolly Sods Wilderness Area has been overrun in recent years as it has gained popularity. One man saw this and decided to do something about it. He formed the Stewards Program. Wilderness Stewards are stationed at the trailheads to provide information about trails, campsites, and water availability while cautioning hikers to observe safety rules and to Leave No Trace. There is an article in this issue that outlines their latest efforts.  

There is also the Highways Committee. It was formed over 20 years ago when Corridor H was first proposed and has been reignited as the controversy over the route between Parsons and Davis has resurfaced. The Climate Change Committee has produced a guide to what you can do to prevent climate change that other entities have requested to duplicate. With success, the Extractive Industries Committee has stopped those industries from polluting water and has publicized mountaintop removal mining. These are just a sample of what we do, and you are welcome to join us. 

Two events are coming up as well:

Our next Board of Directors meeting will be held at Twin Falls State Park on Sunday, July 16, at 10 a.m. This would be an opportunity to make a weekend trip to the Park and enjoy the outdoors. I hope to bring all the committees together and reaffirm our common goals.

Our next Annual Meeting will be held on October 13-15 at Canaan Valley Resort. The theme is Water: legislation, acid mine drainage rehabilitation, sedimentation and impact on freshwater fish, local water and sewer issues and much more will be covered. There is an article later in the Voice about this event.

Thank you for reading this, and please email me with any questions.