Most issues of our monthly newsletter, The Highlands Voice, beginning with Volume 1, in 1969, are archived on our website at www.wvhighlands.org.
Enjoy the following highlights taken from;
Cranberry Wilderness Bill
The Cranberry Wilderness Bill, which sailed unopposed through the House got bottled up and died in the Senate before it adjourned. The Bill would have added the Cranberry, as well as three other areas, a total of 70,000 acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Bill included the Seneca Creek area (21,800 acres), Laurel Fork north and South (12,200 acres) as well as additions to Dolly Sods and Otter Creek Wilderness Areas (30,200 acres). The defeat was a bitter disappointment for those who had been working on the Bill for over 10 years. The Bill was complicated because the Chessie Corporation owned the mineral rights beneath the Cranberry area.
Davis Power Project, Canaan Valley
The US Department of Energy determined that alternatives to the Davis Power Project in Canaan Valley could meet the load needs of the region through the 1990s. Linda (Cooper) Elkinton said that she was glad to see the report state unequivocally that there are alternatives and that it affirmed what the Highlands Conservancy has been saying all along.
Highlands Scenic Highway
An archeological survey determined that the proposed extension of the Highlands Scenic Highway north along the mountaintops of Pocahontas and Randolph Counties would impact the historically significant site of the old logging town of Spruce.
DLM Coal Libel suit
Highlands Conservancy Board of Directors member, Rick Webb was sued for Libel for $200,000 by the DLM Coal Corporation. They claimed that tremendous losses were suffered by the industry because of needless environmental complaints. They claimed that Webb’s charge that mining was hurting trout streams was “totally false and untrue, defamatory and libelous, intentionally and maliciously published, calculated to be damaging to the plaintiff’s relationship with its employees and key personnel,” and was also part of “a conspiracy to harass intimidate and destroy plaintiff’s business by degrading it in the business world and crippling it financially.”
Shavers Fork Mining
The Mower Lumber Company began mining on Glade Run, one of the 30 mines it has plans for. The Highlands Conservancy has been fighting, including law suits, over these mines for over 12 years at this point. Mining is being done under a special agreement with the State’s DNR, an agreement the DNR ‘s Director described as “assuring the future environmental integrity of the Shaver’s Fork.” The agreement limits to 6 the number of mines that can operate at any one time. The Highlands Conservancy is seeking to stop mining of National Forest lands in the Shaver’s Fork watershed. WVHC sued the Secretary of Interior contending he did not have the right to allow Mower to open up its mines. It lost. Mower filed a suit against the Highlands Conservancy contending that its court actions were taken only to harass the firm and impede the opening of its mines. US District Judge Maxwell, in Elkins, turned aside their suit noting that the Highlands Conservancy’s suit was not instituted in bad faith or for the sole purpose of harassing Mower.
Blackwater-Canaan Trail Opens
A new, 10.5 mile cross country ski trail has been opened connecting the two popular State Parks. A dedication took place with a XC ski workshop sponsored by the WV DNR.
Monongahela National Forest Plan Revision
Twenty One different issues, from Wilderness designation to law enforcement have been identified by officials of the Monongahela National Forest. “New Plans need to be prepared at intervals to respond to the changing national needs and the changing resource situation,” commented Forest Supervisor Ralph Mumme. Forest Planners organized small working groups of interested citizens to offer well-informed, ongoing opinions.
Stonewall Jackson Dam
“The defeat of the resolution opposing construction of the Stonewall Jackson Dam in the State Legislature was by far the biggest disappointment of the Session,” said Perry Bryant, Highlands Conservancy Vice President. “If this resolution had passed, and if the dam is constructed (God forbid) , this resolution could have saved the State $50 million in construction costs and interest.” The Corps of Engineer’s dam flooded 450 farms and displaced 1,800 West Virginians.
A series of meetings is being organized to address the recently released Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Corridor H. The study says it would be cheaper for the road to go north through Parsons than through Wymer. “Not building the Highway” is the preferred alternative of the WV DNR.
Holy Grove Mine, Little Kanawha River
Cindy Rank, with Friends of Little Kanawha (FOLK) and mining Chairperson for the Highlands Conservancy wrote that, “The technical data is complete but the EPA is unable to make a decision at this time due to the national issues involved and the changing Administration.” The Company was proposing new strip mining techniques where hazardous overburden is packed between layers of alkaline material and the whole “sandwich” suspended several feet off the floor of the pit before it is backfilled. Over 300 people attended a public hearing at WV Weslyan. Citizen lawsuits prompted the US EPA to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, the first such prepared in the eastern US.
Fall Review 1981
“Watoga State Park provides the opportunity for Highlands Conservancy members and friends to focus on timely environmental concerns during group outings and workshops,” according to Skip Deegans, the Review’s Coordinator. Bill McNeel reserved 6 cabins at the Park for Conservancy members. During the Board of Directors meeting, Don Gasper agreed to Chair an Acid Raid Committee.