From Our Readers

Dear Mr. Saville [WVHC Admin. Ass’t],

I have enclosed my membership pledge and look forward to working with the Highlands Conservancy.

I read the US News and World Report: "Shear Madness" last year, and I was appalled and sickened by the devastation. I applaud your further distribution of this outstanding article on an on-going environmental disaster that is happening with the full support and backing of local, state and federal officials. This callous and ruthless destruction is another example of our elected representatives "refusing to see." Granted, coal mining/clear cutting/tire dumps/stream polluting is a livelihood, but what about our future? In reading the article I was reminded of one of the songs we sang in West Virginia elementary school: "Oh the hills, beautiful hills, how I love those West Virginia hills." What do the children in Blair, WV sing?

I look forward to working with the Conservancy in stopping the planned construction of the Corridor H highway from Elkins to Virginia. The recent explosive growth in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, VA underscores the importance of restraining urban sprawl. Corridor H will facilitate sprawl and further destroy our mountainous regions.

In closing, I support the Conservancy’s stand on the Blackwater Canyon challenge. As David Brower warns in "Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run," we should not be compromising. I agree with Brower that although compromise may be necessary, it ought not originate with environmental leaders. Swapping public lands is a compromise, and has a NIMBY taint. It, too, will result in the development of a preserved, protected environment and the erosion of a valuable natural area.


Donna Cook

Fairfax, VA August 1998



William Bennett [if you didn’t already know, the self-appointed keeper of the nation’s morals. Ed.] appeared on the Larry King show to decry the lack of public outrage concerning the conduct of the President. After listening to his concerns, which reflect a most extraordinary misapplication of moral values, I sat down and wrote the following.

Just what is morality? Is it not caring about the trouble the world is in – or the ignorance resulting from not knowing about it? Is it not caring about the world as a "liveable place,"or is it not knowing about the threat to life on the planet? Is it not knowing that the world is dangerously overpopulated by the human species, or not caring and working against methods of population control?

Is morality "business as usual, " requiring unlimited use of energy? – being willing to pay the price for killing the trees or not caring that the world’s forests are dying? – or is it not knowing that trees regenerate the atmosphere?

What is morality? Is it having the world’s money in the hands of a few – and the world’s poverty at the doorstep of the rest? Is it the use of "money" as a yardstick of what is "in our best interests" – a continuous assault on the world’s remaining resources? Or is it never having learned, "not knowing," that there is nowhere to store the hazardous products of human creativity?

What is morality? Is it judging disadvantaged persons and collecting fees for violations – courts – prisons? Is it not knowing, or not caring, when parents and children are in trouble at an early age, that resources for them come at a price beyond their means?

When it comes to "right" and "wrong,"I am surprised that many people are "outraged" only by misbehavior that has to do with extra-marital sex. No matter how moral the leadership of our country has been, there is a self-righteous group in the Congress and others in positions of leadership who are making use of the media to hide the real moral issues of our time. How moral is this to try and hide the real issues from the people? How moral is it to keeping the vitally important agenda of the country "on hold?"

This is what I find outrageous!

Elizabeth Hyde October 1, 1998

Gales Ferry, CT


[This letter to Dave Saville]


We have a critical situation developing in the SE part of the state. Is there any way at all I can get the WVHC to write a letter on behalf of Organ Cave? Please be advised there is a deadline. I've enclosed an article that tells all. Please let me know if you can write the letter.


George Dasher

Editor, The West Virginia Caver

Executive Director, The West Virginia Speleological Survey

[A brief excerpt of the referred to article is included here]



The West Virginia Department of Highways is planning to upgrade U.S. Route 219 from a two-lane road to a four-lane assess highway. Construction is scheduled to begin in the year 2000 on a 45- to 50-mile section between Maxwelton and Rich Creek (located in Giles County, Virginia). I suspect that ultimately 219 will be upgraded all the way to its northern terminus in Buffalo, New York; however, at present only the karst of Monroe and Greenbrier counties is threatened.

At present, we know of no Monroe County caves that are in danger. Nor does there appear to be problems at this time with those Greenbrier County caves north of the Greenbrier River. However, south of the river is the Organ Cave Plateau. This equals at least six caves and two springs, and of these Organ and Foxhole Caves are the most threatened.

There are four possible routes, all of which will damage the two caves in some manner. Because of this, we cannot at this time support one "official" route over another. We do, however, feel it is very important to make the Highway Department aware of the sensitivity, uniqueness, and wonder that is Organ Cave. So we are asking people to write letters to the Highway people at this time. You may also want to write other interested people, such as your legislative representatives.

The public comment period ends October 19th or November 2nd, depending on who you talk to. The address to which the comments should be mailed is:

Acting Director, Engineering Division,

WV Division of Highways, Capitol Complex Building Five, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East

Charleston, West Virginia 25305-0430.

[For more complete information, contact George R. Dasher at ] _