West Virginians for Public Lands – June 2019

Meet WV Rivers’ Public Lands Coordinator, Rhea Mitchell

West Virginia’s public lands have a fierce new advocate on WV Rivers’ staff. Rhea Mitchell, a long-time WV Rivers volunteer and dedicated public lands advocate, joined the WV Rivers’ team in mid-May.

Rhea grew up exploring the woods and streams of the Appalachian Mountains. She is proud to live in West Virginia, and not only calls the forests, streams, cliffs, and rivers of the New River Gorge her home, but also her little slice of heaven.

Rhea graduated from Bloomsburg University with a BA in photography and journalism. Before joining the WV Rivers staff, she served as a volunteer leader for West Virginians for Public Lands. Rhea brings experience in community outreach, policy advocacy, and volunteer management

Welcome to the team, Rhea! If you’d like to send Rhea a welcome note, you can email her at rmitchell@wvrivers.org.

Senator Manchin Proposes New Bill to Fund Land and Water Conservation

This spring we shared the good news that Congress permanently reauthorized the Land & Water Conservation Fund. Now, Senator Manchin is working to make sure the program is fully funded. Last month, he introduced a new bipartisan bill that would appropriate $900 million in annual funding to LWCF. Learn more about Senator Manchin’s bill in an editorial by the Wheeling Intelligencer.

LWCF is an important program for West Virginia, to date the state has received $241 million from LWCF for conservation and recreation projects in 54 of our 55 counties. Learn more about LWCF here.

West Virginia Identifies Two Projects for 2020 LWCF Funding

Senator Manchin’s LWCF funding bill will make sure West Virginia’s public lands will receive a generous slice of the LWCF funding pie. West Virginia’s congressional delegation has prioritized two projects to receive LWCF funds in 2020.

In Pocahontas County, the US Forest Service has proposed to purchase 367-acres of land to expand the Monongahela National Forest. This land is located near the Gaudineer Scenic Area, a slice of old-growth forest. Read more here.

The second proposed project would expand sections of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests which straddle the West Virginia and Virginia boarder.

In order to protect these special places we’re going to need your help to make sure a strong LWCF funding bill is passed by Congress. Stay tuned! 

Local Climbers Encourage a Lifetime of Public Lands Stewardship Through (not)Work Week

Vista view of the New River National River from the (not)Work Week project. Photo by Jay Young, NRAC.

New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC) board member and co-founder, Gene Kistler, had a vision for bringing climbing and trail stewardship together. In collaboration with the National Park Service at the New River National River, Gene and other local climbers drafted a plan and created the first (not)Work Week in 2015 to enhance access on pubic lands.

Why (not) work week you ask? Organizers chuckle when saying, “work + fun=not work”.

The weeklong project is held every May and draws volunteers from across West Virginia and surrounding states to improve trails within the New River National River boundaries. NRAC recognizes how important it is to have well maintained trails on public lands. Trails minimize impacts on the landscape and to promote sustainable recreation. Learn more about NRAC and (not)Work Week here.

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