March proved to be another month a lot of activity. Mother Nature provided the greatest amount of snow of the winter for much of the highlands and has ended the month with an abundance of rain. There was also a flurry of activity with issues about which we are most concerned. Activities included:
Mountain Top Removal Mining
It was announced that the study by theNational Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concerningthe health effects of mountain top removal mining has ended. The study, called “Potential Human Health Effects of Surface Coal Mining Operations in Central Appalachia” was initiated by a formal written request from the state of West Virginia in 2015. The research was much-needed, Study Chairman Paul Locke stated. “I know leadership changes, but the facts and the science don’t change, so we’re now in a position where we don’t know what we could have known. I hope you hear the frustration in my voice. I’m very frustrated and disappointed.” WVHC is also very disappointed.
Natural Gas Pipeline Construction
A request by Dominion Transportation, Inc. (DETI) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC to extend the deadline for tree felling from March 31, until May 15 has been denied by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The first incident of a suspected compliance violation has been reported and is being brought to the attention of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The occurrence is an apparent unauthorized access road and equipment staging area for construction. It is in Augusta County, VA in conjunction with the area where horizontal directional drilling is to occur under the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail. The report results from a flyover by the Allegheny Blue-Ridge Alliance/Compliance Surveillance Initiative Pipeline Airforce.
Logging in West Virginia State Parks
Senate Bill 438 authorizes additional bonds for state park projects requiring certain deposits from the State Excess Lottery Fund providing for certain funds not needed for debt service to park improvements. This was one of the recommendations on the suggestions list of alternatives to logging provided by the SOSParks initiative.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARP) has announced a grant to pay for a study of the timber within West Virginia’s state forests. The West Virginia Division of Forestry will receive a $92,820 grant for a timber and forestry products inventory of the state-owned forests. Along with the $92,820 from ARP the inventory will receive an additional $89,180 from the West Virginia Department of Commerce. We are trying to learn more about this study.
Corridor H Highway Construction
The West Virginia Department of Transportation has filed for the modification of authorization for the Corridor H, Kerens to Parsons proposed 8-mile-long new four-lane highway construction in Tucker County, West Virginia. According to the description, construction will result in the permanent discharge of dredged and/or fill material into 111 streams and twelve jurisdictional wetlands at 38 single and complete project locations. Mitigation proposed are through the purchase of stream credits. Comment period ends 4/30/2018.
West Virginia 2018 State Legislature
This is covered by other articles in the Voice.
During the 50thAnniversary celebration activities, the Board requested that members provide ideas for the WVHC for the future. Many great suggestions were received and after a presentation and review of the suggestions at the January meeting, the Board decided that the April Review should be devoted to a facilitated discussion of the suggestions. Suggestions received:
- Do We Need an Administrator/Executive Director
- Establish a Search Committee if Decided We Have the Need
- Establish Responsibilities if Decided
(1) Outreach, Advocacy and Growth
(2) Communication with Board and Membership
- Should We Provide Board of Directors Training
- Review of Current WVHC Programs and Activities and Possible Establishment of Other Programs and Activities
- Discuss and Focus on Current WVHC Programs and Activities
- Environmental Issues
- Education Programs
- Conservation Issues
- Public Lands (Mon, GW and WV)
- Annual Fall Review
(1) Provide Scholarships for College Students to Attend
- Grant Applications for Research of Interest
- Energy Policies (Coal, Gas, Solar and Wind)
- Evaluate and Establish Relationships with and Support for Other Environmental Organizations
- Partner with Other Environmental Groups
(1) Strict Rules and Procedures to be Established
(b) Are There Other Organizations We Should Evaluate and Consider
(1) Appalachian Mountain Advocates
(2) West Virginia Environmental Council
(3) West Virginia Wilderness Coalition
(4) Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance
6.. Support of Specific Activities as They are Determined
- Example “Save Our State Parks” SOSPARKS