Thoughts from our president

WOW!!! Thanks to everyone who attended our 2021 Fall Review. Although originally planned as an outdoor, in person, event somewhere in the highlands that the Conservancy is devoted to protecting, the Fall Review committee had to make the tough decision to make this year virtual because of the recent uptick of Covid 19. 

Thanks to the great presenters for taking the time not only to prepare, but for contributing in making our Fall Review a great success. I know that all attendees enjoyed each and every presentation.

And a big thank you again to the committee – Marilyn, Jackie and Cory – for your fantastic job planning and executing the program, featuring the five great presentations focused on challenging issues that the highlands are facing today. Congratulations for a job well done!

October, as with every other month this year, was another very busy month at the Conservancy and throughout the environmental community.

Mother Nature took her good old time painting the fall canvas on the different elevations throughout the mountains and during each week the leaves were at their peak and putting on a fantastic show drawing visitors from all over the country as evidenced by the license plates seen on vehicles traveling all over the mountains. 

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Adds a New Natural Area 

The Canaan Valley Wetlands and Bald Knob in Canaan Valley State Park have been added to the West Virginia Natural Areas Program. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources stated, “these two areas have the state’s highest concentration of federally listed species and species of greatest conservation need”.

This new designation will add additional resources to mitigate potential impacts of the environment, promote the areas for public awareness and education, encourage scientific study, and improve area management.

West Virginia Environmental Council (WVEC) is Preparing for the 2022 Legislative Session

The 2022 legislative session is fast approaching and the WVEC is preparing. WVHC has submitted its list of priorities which are in this order: public lands, off-road vehicle use, water quality, climate change, true transition of communities and clean elections. WVEC will be issuing alerts during the session which can be found at West Virginia Environmental Council (

WVHC Continues to Address the Off-Road Vehicles Threat to Our Public Lands

Researching the effects of the use of off-road vehicles on public lands, preparation of an Allegheny-Blue Ridges Alliance Conservation Hub project ABRA Conservation Hub (, a PowerPoint presentation supporting the WVHC, and other environmental organizations positions concerning permitting off-road vehicle use on West Virginia public lands continues. Research includes the negative effects, or impacts to soils, watersheds, vegetation, wildlife and their habitats, water quality, air quality and the creation of socioeconomic implications.  Those impacts accrue very quickly and go way beyond interfering with a peaceful atmosphere, a big purpose for creating our public lands. We are highlighting documented research to illustrate the reason that the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and other environmental organizations believe that it is a bad idea to consider permitting them anywhere on our public lands. 

Underground Mine Safety Test Center Near Snowshoe Gets Green Light

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has opted to move forward with plans to buy a 461-acre tract along U.S. 219 straddling the Randolph-Pocahontas County line, where it will relocate its Underground Safety Research Program for miner health and safety.

NIOSH intends to build a 164,000-square-foot underground test facility that would be carved out of a rock formation 500 feet beneath the surface, requiring the excavation of 152,000 tons of rock through boring, drilling and blasting. Two-thirds of that rock would be used on-site for fill.

The underground facility would be lined with reinforced concrete to provide blast-resistance during tests. After such tests, gas and dust would be vented out of the test chamber and later hauled to a landfill. Water would not be involved in cleaning residue from the underground testing, according to the agency.

An above-ground fire suppression test facility would include a filtering system, to remove particulate residue from tests involving combustion. All water and chemical solutions used in firefighting tests would drain into a sump, from which the water would later be recycled and reused on site, and solid residue would be periodically hauled to a landfill.

An estimated 17,000 to 25,000 square feet of above-ground buildings would be constructed to accommodate offices, classrooms and control and storage facilities.

Eastern Golden Eagle: The Appalachian Mountains’ Little-Known Apex Predator

Among my favorite bird sightings here in West Virginia is the “Golden Eagle”. Recently I attended a presentation by Joel Merriman, the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director. During his presentation, Joel mentioned an article that he wrote and just released “Meet the Eastern Golden Eagle” which can be found here Eastern Golden Eagle: The Appalachian Mountains’ Little-known Apex Predator – American Bird Conservancy ( It is a great article that covers:

  • Where Do Eastern Golden Eagles Live?
  • Where do Eastern Golden Eagles Migrate?
  • What do Eastern Golden Eagles Eat?
  • How Many Eastern Golden Eagles Are There?
  • Are Eastern Golden Eagles Endangered?
  • What Threats do Eastern Golden Eagles Face?
  • Are Wind Turbines a Threat to Golden Eagles?
  • How Do Wind Turbines Impact Eastern Golden Eagles?
  • Conserving Eastern Golden Eagles.

Joel provides a magnitude of information and a list of additional resources for those interested in Eastern Golden Eagles.

Fat Bats are Happy Bats

Posted to Electric Power Research Institute Utility Management Group is an interesting article about bat research being conducted found here Fat Bats are Happy Bats | Energy Central.

One of the animal species EPRI is monitoring most closely is bats. These important nocturnal animals are in critical decline across North America. The little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), the Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), and the tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) have declined by more than 90 percent in the past decade due to the rapid spread of a fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) which causes White Nose Syndrome (WNS). Research has shown that bats that enter hibernation with larger fat reserves tend to fare better against WNS. Though they may still experience fungus growth on their bodies, the higher fat reserve means they are less likely to die from starvation as a result of WNS. The article goes on to describe the use of artificial prey patches to bats that enter hibernation with larger fat reserves tend to fare better against WNS. Though they may still experience fungus growth on their bodies, the higher fat reserve means they are less likely to die from starvation as a result of WNS. It will be interesting to learn how this experiment works out.

Enjoy The Highlands Voice as we report on other issues in or affecting the Highlands and please stay safe during the start of the holiday season.