Thoughts From Our President

By Marilyn Shoenfeld

Mother Nature is very busy with the annual coloring of the leaves, which has been very evident witnessing the annual transformation from green to the scarlet, purple, orange, yellow, and brown of the fall foliage. Everyone seems to agree that She has outdone herself with one of the most spectacular shows for a long time.

October was again very busy at the Conservancy, as it was for all the organizations within the environmental community. For the Conservancy, among other activities, it was another wonderful annual Fall Review at the Canaan Valley Resort State Park. The theme was Water in West Virginia, and as promised, it was a weekend of education, environmental activism, and fellowship. The Conservancy wants to thank the members of the Fall Review Committee, the fantastic presenters, and those who attended for making this year’s Fall Review an incredible success. Please mark your calendars for the Fall Review at Cacapon Resort State Park in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, on Oct. 11-13, 2023.

The Annual Membership Meeting with the election of Directors At-Large and Officers for the next two years (see the Roster of Officers, Board Members, and Committee Chairs in this issue of The Voice) followed by the Fall Board of Director’s Meeting were held on Sunday.

It is hard to believe that we are fast approaching the 2024 legislative session. The West Virginia Environmental Council (WVEC) has been preparing for the upcoming legislative session mode, reviewing the legislative session interims during the year, and working with coalition partners. By the time you receive this month’s Voice, members of the Legislative Committee will have met during the West Virginia Environmental Council Annual Meeting to establish legislative priorities for the upcoming session. 

On the list are:


Community Solar – promote access to affordable renewable energy through a solar facility subscription service where customers can purchase an interest in a solar facility and use credits against their electric utility costs.

Net Metering – protect and preserve long-standing net metering rules to ensure all solar users are entitled to the existing fair market retail rate. 

Orphaned Gas Well Responsibility – require bonds to be set before drilling begins to cover plugging costs for gas wells that are abandoned or orphaned. 

Advanced Nuclear – monitor 2022’s bill to repeal the state’s ban on nuclear power, while opposing expansion of this energy source if no safe long-term storage is available.

Hydrogen Hub/CCS – monitor legislative developments and oppose any proposal that increases carbon emissions through use of fossil fuels.

Clean Water:

Aboveground Storage Tank Legislation – prevent further rollback of legislation passed after the 2014 chemical spill in Charleston. Recently defeated bills would have relaxed inspection requirements on oil and gas tanks located within zones of critical concern.

Water Quality Standards – provide outreach and education at legislative public meetings as the legislature and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection develop water quality standard rules.

Additional Priorities:

Public Lands – defeat proposals to open public lands to Off-Road Vehicles and other legislation that would degrade West Virginia’s state parks and forests. 

Watch for an article in December’s Voice to see the priorities chosen and information on how you can monitor actions during the legislative session.

Want to have your voice heard concerning what happens to our West Virginia Public Lands? Members of the Public Lands Committee have been working all year with the West Virginians for Public Lands (WVPL) coalition to think about the best ways to safeguard our Wild and Wonderful state public lands. 

Here is an opportunity to have your voice heard. Think about what you want: More public lands? Extend non-motorized trail safeguards to Wildlife Management Areas? Full funding for maintenance, non-motorized trail building, and staffing? Our public lands rich in biodiversity and intact ecosystems? Rich in nature-based recreation and quiet solitude? Modernized public notice rules for full transparency and public input? Or any other suggestions you might have. If so, complete the survey at

Again, we look to you, our membership, for continued support and participation. Thanks for reading, and please email me with questions, concerns or comments at