Thoughts From Our President – April 2024

By Marilyn Shoenfeld

As always, we think spring is coming to the Highlands, and then there is a blizzard warning for the first week of April (I am writing this on April Fool’s Day, and it is no joke.) 

The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy staff, board, and committee members have had a busy March. The West Virginia Legislative Session concluded at the beginning of March. There were some good bills, a lot of bad bills, and some in-between bills. Our lobbying team effectively blocked some of the worst and promoted some of the good. Many thanks to those who worked tirelessly to keep our public lands intact. You can read our Legislative Committee Chair Luanne McGovern’s recap of the 2024 Legislative Session here

Here is more of what we’ve been up to:

Outings: Our Program Director Olivia Miller and Membership and Operations Director Crys Bauer have planned a series of outings for the late spring, summer and fall. This revives a program that the Conservancy had twenty years ago! Some of you may remember the West Virginia Mountain Odyssey Program: Outings, Education, and Beyond. Look in the Voice for details on joining a guided hike, bird walks, mushrooms, participating in tree plantings and much more. 

The Nature Conservancy, Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative, and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge are hosting two tree planting events in April in Tucker County—on April 19 at Canaan Valley State Park and April 20 along Freeland Road. WVHC provided the saplings that will be used as part of these two planting events. Head over to for more details on these Earth Day tree planting opportunities.

On May 12, Casey Rucker of the Brooks Birds Club will be hosting a Mother’s Day bird walk at Blackwater Falls State Park at 10 a.m. Look for registration details coming soon on our website and through email. Big thanks to Casey Rucker for leading this hike for WVHC! We are very appreciative of his time and expertise. 

Corridor H: In other news, we have been busy working with our partner organizations on a variety of issues. A meeting was held with the Interim Monongahela National Forest Supervisor and the Go North Alliance to share concerns about the proposed Corridor H construction between Parsons and Davis. We are grateful for the opportunity to have an open dialogue and engage in constructive conversations with the Monongahela National Forest. 

I would like to sincerely thank all our members who responded to our action alert and submitted a comment on the Notice of Intent to prepare a new environmental impact statement for the proposed routes between Parsons and Davis for Corridor H. This highway construction will undoubtedly bring ecological consequences, and we need all our voices to ensure the route with the least environmental impact is selected.

Restoring streams: As you will read on the front page of this issue of the Voice, WVHC joined the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the Sierra Club in a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Water Act. An agreement has been made with the EPA, and we will need your support once again to comment on the proposed consent decree between the plaintiffs. Please be sure that you are signed up to receive our action alerts via email. 

Protecting waterways: WVHC’s Program Director Olivia Miller joined West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Elks Run Watershed Group on a trip to Washington, D.C., to discuss the value of our waterways in the Monongahela National Forest with our Congressional representatives (or their staff!) Visits to the Capitol over the years is in the positive memories of many who have served on WVHC’s board. There will be more to share on this matter in the future.

Stewardship in Dolly Sods: The Dolly Sods Wilderness Program folks have been busy planning for the upcoming season. There will be a Crosscut Sawyer and Trail Maintenance training on the weekends of April 13-14 and April 27-28. Solitude Monitoring will be conducted in May and June. On May 18, we will have a training for new Trailhead Stewards and our annual all-Stewards picnic. You can sign up for a training on our website.

Planning is proceeding on track for the initiation of our new Backcountry Stewards program. We are targeting late June or early July for a training and expect to have Stewards in the field during the summer and fall.

There are many ways to become involved with WVHC. We hope to see you at one of our many outings this summer. Please contact me if you wish to find out more about what we do and how you can be involved at

See you in the Highlands!