Letter from the President

A white circle reads West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. Since 197. With Spruce trees and a sunset behind.

By Larry Thomas

It is amazing how fast 2022 has flown by and it went out with a bang as temperatures in much of the highlands dipped below zero accompanied by strong winds creating extreme wind chills for close to a week. I hope that despite the harsh weather conditions that everyone had an enjoyable holiday season.  

During 2023 it is critically important that we continue our fight to preserve and protect the highlands for the future, focusing on new and exciting opportunities. We must also continue to monitor unresolved issues that we have been working on and that have been reported in The Highlands Voice throughout the past year.

The Conservancy’s many accomplishments during 2022, as well as many informative articles, have been reported in each month’s issue of The Highlands Voice. I hope that you have had the opportunity to read each monthly issue from front to back. Our committees did not slowdown in our mission to work for the conservation, appreciation, and ecologic integrity of the natural mountain landscape—the highlands—of West Virginia. 

We realize that the Conservancy’s successes were made possible by the 55 plus years of continued support from our loyal members and supporters, and for that we are most thankful. Thanks to that wonderful support, we have been able to continue the long-successful programs such as holding industries responsible by restraining out-of-control mountaintop coal mining, Marcellus Shale drilling, mega gas pipelines and working to reduce their impacts, protection of our public lands and Wilderness Areas, protecting clean air and water, review and reporting on issues related to climate change and engaging state and federal lawmakers on issues important to the Conservancy. 

That continued support also allows us to tackle new problems as they arise such as the conditions that surfaced with increased use of the Dolly Sods Wilderness and the proposed use of Off-Road Vehicles on West Virginia’s public lands. The list continues to grow and grow.

While the issues might change from year to year, our methods remain fundamental. With member and supporter support, we can expose problems, educate members and supporters, the public, and policy makers, research better alternatives, and use our collective Voice. Our historic record of successes, and our vision for the future, reinforce our efforts on behalf of what we all have grown to love, respect and appreciate.

During the summer and fall of 2022, we were able to reinstate the outings program with four great outings and conducted a great Fall Review, all of which were well attended. The committees are already working on both for 2023. Follow our activities in each month’s issue of The Highlands Voice.

We have also enjoyed the highlands we are working so hard to protect, whether it’s the vast Monongahela National Forest, the spectacular Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, or other highland’s locations. I hope that you can get out and enjoy our highlands and join us at our Fall Review or the outings, workshops, or public meetings.  

The Conservancy’s mission is even more urgent than ever before. Threats to our highlands, clean air, clean water and wildlife keep increasing at an alarming rate. We have found that when it comes to protecting and preserving our highlands, fearlessness and persistence pay off and our pledge is to continue the fight.

Stay safe and as we move into this new year, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2023.