Thoughts from our President

Summer has arrived and It has been fantastic watching Mother Nature accomplishing her annual transformation of our Highlands during the last couple months. Trees have leafed out in their different shades of green, wildflowers are blooming everywhere in so many colors and as usual wildlife mothers (birds and mammals) are raising a new generation, carrying on the life cycle as Mother Nature intends. During June there were many severe storms with heavy rains and temperatures have been up and down like a roller coaster. We still are experiencing chilly nights and high temperatures during the day.

June, like every other month this year has been very busy at the Conservancy as well as for many of our partner environmental groups. Lots of issues and activities.

Old Growth Forests Executive Order

The Executive Order signed by the President and aimed at protecting the United States’ forests, especially old-growth forests has created a lot of confusion, and everyone is waiting for definitions and guidance form the administration. The order directs the Department of the Interior to inventory the old-growth forests on federal lands over the course of the next year and identify the threats to these trees along with ways to better safeguard them. The Public Lands Committee will be monitoring the process and progress as the Forest Service implements the requirements of the Executive Order. 

Gauley Healthy Forest Restoration Project

The United States Forest Service has reached out to update interested parties and to notify them that a decision has been signed for the Gauley Healthy Forest Restoration Project on the Monongahela National Forest’s Gauley Ranger District. The primary purpose of the project is to improve forest stands by developing healthy stands that are more resistant to insects, disease, and fire. Proposed actions by the FS were designed alongside partners to meet this goal from comments and inputs received from partners. The Conservancy submitted comments on the project and the Public Lands Committee is reviewing the final document against our recommendations. The FS did state that they are looking forward to further collaboration as they move toward implementation and monitoring and the Conservancy has signed up to be a part of that process. Project information and documentation is available at:

Forest Service Invests $6M in Deferred Maintenance Projects in West Virginia

The Monongahela National Forest has received $6 million in funding from the 2020 Great American Outdoors Act to support seven deferred maintenance projects across the Forest in 2022.

Forest Supervisor Shawn Cochran stated that the planning for these projects began in 2021 and the Forest Service is now ready to begin construction. The construction will cause some temporary disruptions, but the long-term benefits of greater access and safety will make it all worthwhile.

The Seven Forest Service Deferred Maintenance Projects are:

  • Cranberry Wilderness Public Access Project, Bridge Replacement over Williams River at Tea Creek (Pocahontas County)
  • Shavers Fork of the Cheat Public Access and Habitat Improvement Project, Culvert Replacement and Bridge Construction on Forest Road 209 (Randolph County)
  • Lake Sherwood Campground, Outdoor Recreation Project, Campground Rehabilitation (Greenbrier County)
  • Marlinton/White Sulphur District Habitat Improvement Projects, Culvert Replacement on Forest Roads 296 and 298 in Laurel Run and Forest Road 999 in Williams River (Greenbrier and Pocahontas County)
  • Cranberry Wilderness Public Access Project, Bridge Replacement at Tumbling Rock Run along Cranberry River (Nicholas and Pocahontas County)
  • Dolly Sods Wilderness Public Access Project, Bridge Replacement over Red Creek (Grant, Randolph and Tucker County)
  • Tea Creek Mountain Trails Public Access Project, Trail Improvements (Grant, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Randolph and Tucker County)

Information concerning the projects can be found at:

Updates about construction activities and safety alerts.

Additional information about Forest Service implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act.

The Public Lands Committee has inquired about the possibility of collaboration on these projects.

Outings Planned for the Summer

The Conservancy has planned four great outings over the next few months. They are described in another section of the Voice with instructions on how to participate. Watch for a couple more that are being considered. I plan to attend all four and look forward to seeing many of you there.

            Thanks again to all of our members and supporters for your continued support which makes what we have done at the Highlands Conservancy for over 54 years possible. July will be another busy month at the Conservancy as well as for other environmental organizations as we continue to work with on various issues and projects throughout the Highlands. Enjoy The Highlands Voice as we report on the issues and happenings in or affecting the Highlands Please stay safe during the summer season and get out there and enjoy all the Highlands have to offer.