The Conservancy is very excited to welcome Cory Chase our Program Director. Cory will be working with the board and its committee chairs as well as our partner organizations providing support and assistance as we continue to tackle the various projects and issues that WVHC has been working on to, as we say on our web page, “Preserving West Virginia for future generations”. Welcome aboard Cory. Look for Cory’s bio in this issue of the Highlands Voice.
Again, I want to extend my thanks to our members and supporters through whose continued support we are able to promote, encourage and work for the conservation, appreciation, and ecologic integrity of the natural mountain landscape of West Virginia. It seems that issues are coming at lighting speed, and it is important to be vigil.
Dolly Sods Wilderness Stewards Project
The wilderness stewards’ program is well under way as trailhead steward volunteers have been greeting visitors to the Dolly Sods Wilderness. My personal experience has been very rewarding, receiving many expressions of thanks from the visitors encountered at the trailheads. Thanks to David Johnston and members of the US Forest Service in the implementation of this project. See the update for the program in this issue of the Highlands Voice.
Dolly Sods has been a part of the WVHC culture from the beginning and we are pleased to be working on this project with the US Forest Service.
Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance is Planning for the Future
The ABRA Board of Directors has been looking to the future. A lot of planning has been going on to keep this powerful coalition moving forward after spending six long years ending with the success of the cancelling of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
WVHC has been a member of ABRA from its founding in 2014 and members of the WVHC board are working with the ABRA committees established to ensure continuance of the mission of ABRA which is “Protecting the Heritage, Resources and Economy of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Region”. The WVHC board feels that this coalition is extremely important to tackle issues that might arise in the region.
WVHC Files Comments on the Proposed Upper Cheat River Project
The Public Lands Committee continues to monitor the newly proposed Forest Service projects in the Monongahela National Forest as well as those for which WVHC has already submitted comments concerning what are considered major flaws in terms of protecting sensitive resources and potentially conflict with the Forest Plan.
On July 30, WVHC provided scoping comments to the Forest Service on the proposed Upper Cheat River project. WVHC comments included the following:
- Thoroughness of the Scoping Package
- Timber Harvest, Early Successional Habitat, and Old Growth
- Watershed and Soil Issues
- Surveys for Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Plants
- Climate Change
- 30 X 30 Initiative
WVHC committees are also monitoring other issues that could have negative impacts on the highlands such as the current effort to allow the use of motorized vehicles on the public lands of West Virginia.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
The appointment of Secretary Deb Haaland has been received very well by the environmental community, touting her as a visionary leader now at the helm of the Department of the Interior.
Secretary Haaland is a passionate advocate for climate solutions, environmental justice, Indigenous People’s rights, access to the outdoors and the protection of public lands. As the head of the Interior Department she will oversee management of approximately 500 million acres of public lands. The environmental community is looking forward to working with the Secretary to solve the climate crisis, improve protections of our shared lands and waters, and to ensure that everyone benefits from and has access to our public lands.
July WVHC Board Meeting and 2021 Fall Review
At the July board meeting, it was decided that WVHC should have a fall review this year and the committee is working on a venue and agenda for the event. Watch future Highlands Voices for information as the planning progresses and please plan to attend.
2021 continues to be another busy year for the Conservancy as well as the highlands of West Virginia and we will keep you informed, as events occur, through the Highlands Voice.