This will be one last look back at fifty years of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy; this time decade by decade. What were we doing 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and earlier? In addition to our wonderful 40-year history book by Dave Elkinton —mine’s getting pretty tattered— another great resource for memories is our online archive copies of The Highlands Voice. https://www.wvhighlands.org/highlands-voice-mag/
Thanks to all involved in the archiving, most editions of The Voice are easy to access. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to look back too. It is fascinating to read and find recurring subjects. Some stand out for singularity; others make us shake our heads and think, “Gee, we are STILL dealing with that!”
We would begin with 1977, our ten- year mark, but that year happens to have escaped archiving. So, we can look at ’76. Here’s some snippets of headlines and topics:
“Beleaguered Kumbrabow Faces Another Assault” — state forests do not own mineral rights
Our canoeing trip on the Cheat River had 19 participants from OH, MD, PA, WV, but—“Every lunch eaten at that rocky bend may be the last meal time there. Whether that bend and many others become submerged under the proposed Rowlesburg Lake…”
We published our survey of gubernatorial candidates. Ken Hechler said, “I favor abolition of strip mining.”
Hubert Humphrey sponsored a federal bill to reverse gains of our group in the Mon forest which preventing certain kinds of clearcutting. Senator Jennings Randolph aided us in opposing the bill.
We were selling trail guides. Dues were $5. A WVHC patch cost $1.10 and Jean Rodman was a regional Vice President. We promoted voter registration.
The next decade begins with 1987. We saw stories [ photographs now!] about:
Acid rain, rock climbing and [separately] Peregrine Falcons in the New River Gorge, establishment of the Mary Ingles Hiking Trail, the proposal for a Wildlife Refuge in Canaan Valley, safeguarding our drinking water, the “Bottle Bill”, and seeking volunteers for the first WV Breeding Bird Atlas.
We also read a grieving letter about the Stonewall Jackson Dam and articles titled “A Dam on the Greenbrier?” and “There is No Such Thing as Clean Coal”.
Jim Van Gundy led a caving trip in the Laneville area “suitable for novices but not children,” and Judy Rodd led “Nature Skool” at our Reviews.
The “Gendarme” rock formation tumbled down from Seneca Rocks at 3:27 p.m., Thursday Oct. 22. Three Forest Service employees and two school children in the Seneca Rocks Elementary School yard witnessed the crash.
In 1997, the Highlands Conservancy was interested in:
Corridor H, solar energy, mountain biking, “TMDL”, and Blackwater Canyon. We reprinted an article by Ken Ward Jr., not for the first or last time. Dues were $15, and Margaret Janes and Pamela Moe-Merritt talking about chicken s**t and the Potomac River.
We sponsored a meeting in Beckley with staff of the National Park Service and citizens. In October, at our 30th anniversary, Rick Webb spoke on “The Water Quality and Fishery Status of Otter Creek and Dolly Sods Wilderness Areas”.
We enjoyed reading a poem by Mary Wildfire and the line “…with dogwoods and fringetrees wearing birdhouses like earrings …”.
We had critics. One letter to the editor said, “I further wish to note that some of the language in “The Voice” is inflammatory, hyperbolic and unwise.”
And we featured a prescient book review “THE BETRAYAL OF SCIENCE AND REASON: How Environmental Anti-Science Threatens Our Future”.
Then, in 2007, our members were reading about:
Selenium, MTR, water rules, TrAil [a mega power line], global warming, wind turbine facilities, net metering, WV SORO, wilderness, Kates Mountain, a sustainability fair, and Dave Cooper’s “Mountaintop Removal Road Shows”.
Julian Martin hosted our Speakers Bureau.
We published a photo of Larry Gibson’s arrest in a protest over the coal slurry impoundment near Marsh Fork Elementary.
Our history book debuted, to acclaim; the bottle bill was discussed again, and Bob Handley wrote “Help Save Caves.”
Backpacking trips were chronicled by Mike Juskelis and Susan Bly.
This was the 7th year of our partnership with allies in the spruce restoration effort. Beth Little wrote of the efforts against the Greenbrier Cogen “clean coal” power plant, and we pressed for treatment of water from abandoned mines.
This is a very piecemeal list. But I hope you’ve had fun with it, even in its brevity. And I have an extra measure of gratitude for the online archives. I put my old “Voice” copies in my compost bin. Editor John does not mind, in fact he rather likes that his words and all of ours go toward making “new dirt”. Next month we will look ahead for the Highlands Conservancy…and try to see what could be new for us.