Thought From Our President

By Marilyn Shoenfeld

It is the end of February as I write this. Our beautiful winter turned into an early mud season this month. There has been a lot of rain and flooding in parts of the Highlands. Plants and animals are confused as climate signals are mixed, which highlights the importance of the work of our Climate Change Committee and the work of other environmental organizations. 

We are all struggling to raise awareness of climate change issues with individuals, corporations, and the Legislature. While some progress has been made, there is much more to do with identifying and implementing solutions. Your help is needed—join our committee or send us your ideas.

The West Virginia Legislative Session is drawing to a close. There have been some okay bills, a couple of good ones and a lot of really bad ones. Our team, with the West Virginia Environmental Council, and other groups, have been tirelessly working to move forward the bills that are good for the environment and discourage legislators from passing bills that harm the environment. As they are still in session until March 9, a detailed report will be in the next issue of The Highlands Voice by our Legislative Committee Chair Luanne McGovern. I want to express my thanks to the team that has been meeting with legislators, monitoring bills, testifying as necessary and doing everything else to ensure that minimal damage is done.

Here is more of what we’ve been up to:

The Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative (CASRI) held their quarterly meeting and WVHC was represented; we hope to participate in the tree plantings in 2024 and work on outreach to share more about CASRI’s efforts. 

Next month, Olivia and Crys will be sharing news about our revamped Mountain Odyssey Program: Outings, Education and Beyond, which will offer many opportunities to reconnect with nature this summer and meet members of WVHC through guided hiking trips, bird walks, mushroom meanders, a paddle trip and more. 

Our Dolly Sods Wilderness Stewards are gearing up for what we hope will be one of our most successful seasons yet. The program is expanding, and you will hear more from Dolly Sods Wilderness Steward Coordinator Dave Johnston about upcoming trainings and a new Backcountry Stewards team on page <<#>>.

Our Highways Committee has been increasingly more active as the Notice of Intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed section of Corridor H between Parsons and Davis was published in the Federal Register in early February. The comment period for the Notice of Intent closes on March 27. Matt Marcus of the Blackwater Bicycle Association discusses the two routes being studied on page <<#>> and details the impact both routings could have on hiking trails in Tucker County. 

As part of the Go North Corridor H Alliance, members of WVHC’s Highways Committee had a productive meeting with the Monongahela National Forest in February to share concerns about the road’s construction on our public lands. The fight to protect the Blackwater Canyon and protect our streams and communities continues. 

Earlier in February, WVHC achieved a big milestone—we are happy to share that we now have 3,000 members, prospective members and general supporters. Our members are the reason we can continue to grow our staff and outreach. As our membership grows, we have a stronger and more effective voice at the State Capitol and can make more progress toward safeguarding our mountains and streams. Please consider passing along your copy of The Highlands Voice to a friend and encouraging them to become members.  

In other news:

We are saddened to hear that Angie Rosser is leaving the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. She has been an incredibly effective leader for 12 years; we wish her well in her next adventure.

Our next Board meeting is coming up. It will be at Chief Logan State Park on Sunday April 21, 2024 at 10 a.m. On Saturday, April 20, there will be an outing to Matewan with a tour of the Mine Wars Museum and a stop at the Hatfields’ Cemetery. Our members are invited, and we will be sharing more details through email in the coming weeks. We hope to see you there!

As always, your comments and thoughts are welcome. We would love more input from our members! Send to

Thanks, and see you in the mountains!