Thoughts from our President: Off-Road Vehicles Pose a Threat to West Virginia Public Lands

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has a long history of opposing Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) use on our West Virginia federal and state public lands. As reported previously, the Conservancy Legislative Committee, along with the West Virginia Environmental Council and other environmental organizations, has kept an eye out during this legislative session for any legislation to permit the use of Off-Road Vehicles on West Virginia Federal and State public lands. As predicted, seven bills were introduced, all linked and laying the foundation for a comprehensive program to allow the use of off-road on our West Virginia public lands. 

The Public Lands Committee “Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Recreation on West Virginia Public Lands” project is posted on the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance’s Conservation Hub WV Public Lands ORV | ABRA Conservation Hub (  highlights the growing threats ORVs pose to the environmental integrity of our West Virginia public lands. Sponsored by the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the project includes information and an interactive online map to help educate the public and legislators regarding the impacts of ORV use on West Virginia’s public lands. The project’s web page points out that “there are universal effects and severe environmental impacts on many fronts” if ORVs are permitted to operate on public lands, citing a comprehensive study on the issue conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS study discusses the negative impacts that often result from ORVs being permitted to be used on public lands, including effects on soils, vegetation, wildlife habitats, water quality and the Socioeconomic Implications of ORV use

Concerns over the environmental damage that can result from ORVs being operated on certain lands is not limited to West Virginia. On January 19, the Virginia Mercury ran a major story on the environmental damage that ORVs are causing to a system of trails in Southwestern Virginia. The article reported on the three-year fight that a local citizens group, the Clinch Coalition, has had with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality over erosion and sediment control problems caused by ORVs to the trail system

The 2022 West Virginia Legislature

Once again activities at the legislature have taken front row in the environmental community. The Conservancy Legislative Committee along with the West Virginia Environmental Council and other environmental organizations kept an eye out on good as well as bad legislation. See the article in this month’s Highlands Voice.

Committee Activities

WVHC committees are working on other projects and issues including rerouting of a section of Corridor H, partnering with WV Sun to promote solar installations, preparing recommendations that individuals can do to combat climate change, reviewing Forest Service projects and commenting thereon, preparing for the 2022 Dolly Sods Stewards program activities, monitoring water pollution and mining issues, and planning a Fall Review in October. Committees are always looking for members, so if you are interested, let us know. The WVHC committees are listed here in the Highlands Voice.

5 Tricks and Tips: Prepping for the Season Change – Information from Leave No Trace 

Spring doesn’t officially begin until March 20th, but that doesn’t mean we can’t experience Spring-like conditions before then.  When the weather warms up, there are a few things we can do to help keep our trails and natural resources in great shape. Read the trips here. 5 Tricks and Tips: Prepping for the Season Change – Leave No Trace (

2022 continues to be another busy year for the Conservancy as we are protecting our highlands of West Virginia and we will keep you informed, as events occur, through The Highlands Voice, Facebook, and Instagram.