Thoughts from our president

An incredibly challenging year has ended, but the Covid19 pandemic of 2020 continues its quest, radically changing our lives as we move into 2021. It is critically important that we continue our fight to preserve and protect the highlands for future generations, focusing on new and exciting opportunities. In addition, we continue to monitor unresolved issues that we have been working on as reported in The Highlands Voice throughout the past year.

Looking back at the Conservancy’s many accomplishments reported in each month’s issue of The Highlands Voice during 2020, it is evident that the pandemic didn’t really slow us down in our mission to work for the conservation, appreciation, and ecologic integrity of the natural mountain landscape of West Virginia. 

We realize that none of this has been possible without the 53+ years of continued support of our members. Thanks to your thoughtful support, we can continue the long-successful programs such as holding the coal industry responsible by restraining out-of-control mountaintop coal mining and working to reduce their impacts, protecting our public lands and Wilderness Areas, restoring the red spruce eco-system, protecting clean water, and engaging our State and Federal lawmakers.  That continued support also allows us to tackle new problems as they arise such as climate change, Marcellus Shale drilling, and mega gas Pipelines. The list continues to grow and grow.

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

Some of the many accomplishments in 2020 include: the culmination after working for 6 years in collaboration with 51 other organizations opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the coalition was successful when Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced on July 5th that they had decided not to proceed with the project; Forest Service proposed projects in the Monongahela National Forest have been reviewed and comprehensive comments and suggestions submitted; policies on Climate Change and Single Use Plastics were developed and approved by the Board; the Extractive Industries Committee has been reviewing and reporting on various controversies; the Balsam/Spruce Committee continues its 22 year old program of restoring historic red spruce-northern hardwood ecosystems across the high elevation landscapes of Central Appalachia.  

Thousands of people flocked to our highlands during 2020 to escape that which the invisible, global pandemic brought to their everyday lives, demonstrating the importance of our continued efforts to continue the fight and to win the war against those who needlessly want to destroy the environment and destroy the natural, scenic and historic areas within the West Virginia highlands.

Many thanks to the members of our Board of Directors and members of the various committees, who despite the issues caused by the pandemic, have remained diligent in their efforts to assure our continued fulfillment of the Conservancy’s mission during 2020. 

As we move into 2021, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and healthy, very happy and prosperous upcoming year. Wishing that we also get a handle on the pandemic and can return to as normal lives as possible.