Giving Thanks … for the 50th

By Cindy Rank

A great big THANK YOU from the planning committee for the 50th Anniversary blowout at Canaan Valley in September. It was a lot of work, but great fun.

It would be impossible to thank everyone individually without leaving someone out, but we want to at least mention and give thanks to the following:

— to the Board for the ideas and suggestions offered from the first mention of having a 50th celebration back in 2015;

— to the panelists and other presenters who gave of their time, sharing knowledge and insightful comments… for the music and memories and food for thought;

— to the outings leaders and other volunteers who helped us enjoy the wonders of Canaan Valley, helped facilitate the weekend, and made every moment special;

— to those who generously donated items for and those who made purchases from the silent auction;

— to the many partner organizations who brought and shared information about their activities and mutual efforts on behalf of a healthy and safe environment;

— to the staff at the resort for the accommodations, service, hearty breakfasts, breakout snacks, and great dinner buffet;

— to the folks at White Grass for our box lunch delights Saturday and Sunday;

— and of course, to Dave Saville hired late last year as our official Event Planner to polish and finalize details, to pull it all together and get the word out.

We hope everyone enjoyed the time to be immersed in the natural wonders and beauty of Canaan and Tucker County, to renew old friendships and make new ones, and to reflect on the Conservancy’s achievements past and present — from Friday night’s focus on past successes involving Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge and the Monongahela National Forest, to Saturday’s attention to current and ongoing challenges of protecting our communities and land and water resources from indiscriminate development of coal and gas, to Sunday’s exploration of climate concerns and options for living in harmony with our environment.

In her President’s column in the October Voice Cindy Ellis reflected on some specific highlights of the weekend. Other members and friends emailed comments about the celebration. —- Below are some of our favorites.

P.S. — Remember to check out the pictures from the event now posted on the Highlands Conservancy’s website at:  And do please forward any additional photos you might want us to add.




Can you imagine West Virginia without the Highlands Conservancy? Neither can I. Places like Dolly Sods and Otter Creek are now part of our DNA as West Virginians, defining who we are and what we will pass on to our kids. You deserve a monument for 50 years of heartfelt, science-based advocacy for public lands, mining controls, and forest restoration…and your monument will not be cast in bronze, but rather in the quiet of a starlit night above the spruce forest and in the brook trout tugging on the line.


The 50th Anniversary of the WVHC! An exciting time! I can think of no place I would rather be on September 15-17 than celebrating with the present generation of leadership and membership in Canaan. … The WVHC has been central to preservation of places and areas that now serve as a backbone and manet for a thriving and growing tourism industry. (Not to mention places for members to “play.”) The WVHC has also been instrumental in curtailing some activities that have deleterious effects on human health for everyone in West Virginia and those Americans living and working downwind.

I hope the next 50 years are as productive as the last!


… [To] all who produced the wonderful and spectacular 50th Anniversary celebration, the 50th Anniversary Celebration was the first time I got to be with the WVHC since the early 1990s when I first learned about and joined the Conservancy.  All in attendance were welcoming, friendly, and a pleasure to be with.  Thanks for accepting me into your midst.  It was a great pleasure to be with each and all of you.

It was an exciting pleasure for me to be so warmly welcomed by all the “heroes” I had read about in the Voice for maybe 30 years.  They are better that I expected and are on the next level above “heroes”.  What would that be?

Each of the sessions I attended was excellent, none better than the other.

So many organizations do not survive 50 years.  So many organizations do not study their concerns like the WVHC does.  It is a model and the handbook is the Elkinton 40-year history.

…Somehow, it seems to me, the health and safety of the Highlands is inseparably connected to and dependent on the community spirit and economic prosperity of the whole Mountain State.

… be assured that I look forward to the Highlands’ and WV’s future, because the WVHC will at work.

And thanks again to all for the welcome I enjoyed at the 50th Celebration.


It was a real pleasure to meet so many of my heroes of the environmental effort here in WV.  Loved it all — the conversations, the talks, especially the Saturday evening panel, the bird walk, and my own solo wanderings into the forest.  I only wish Wheeling weren’t so far away, nor my schedule so full.

Wishing you all the best.


We really enjoyed the conference.  The speakers were informative and interesting.  We loved the chance to have a guided trip on the Blackwater river-it was spectacular.

The food and conference center rooms were nice (except the room was cold).

Thanks very much for everything!


…  It was a pleasure to see old friends and meet new ones, and hear of the organization’s recent accomplishments.

… the meeting was a great excuse for us to spend time in the Highlands.  We visited Blackwater Falls, Davis, Thomas, Parsons, Elkins, and the top of Spruce Knob.


I liked the kayak trip a lot. Food was great. Cave trip was good. Andy’s walk was good.


… just read the write-up of the 50th.  must have been great and made me homesick. … wish I could have been there –


The Celebration was excellent. [We] had a great time, learned a lot & are still telling our friends about it.  You [all] did a terrific job.  Just hope we don’t have to wait another 10 years for the next one! Maybe in 2022 for 55 years but on a scaled down version. We’d be happy to volunteer to help organize.

Especially enjoyed the Kayak trip & the Sinks of Gandy.


Thanks to everyone on the planning committee, I had a great time at WVHCs 50th. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity for an easy paddling trip on the Blackwater – even the not-so-easy haul around beaver dams & other obstacles. Thanks again to Chip Chase & Mary Wimmer for that trip. 10 years after my last visit WVHC is more vital than ever. I look forward to whatever the future brings.


Overall, a great celebration. Congratulations to the organizing committee for all the hard work.

A great combination of outings and skull sessions: always a hard balance at Conservancy events

Mollohan was a good choice of keynoter.

… loved the birding opportunities … and enjoyed reconnecting with so many old-timers.


… very well done.  I especially liked the panel discussions, the slide show and the music.…. especially liked the fella who demonstrated some of the atmospheric compounds using the tennis ball contraptions