Finding Peace in Nature: James Hite Park

“I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world”

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Austrian poet

Dear Friend of WV Rivers,

Whew – we made it! It may be a few days after the fact, but let me offer you a deeply heartfelt “Happy New Year!” I hope 2021 brings you happiness, healthfulness, and peace.

For us, the journey continues as we seek to teach our girls (and learn a bit ourselves) about valuing those we hold closest – family & friends – in a time when we can’t hold them at all.

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the importance of circles. In particular, our family and social circles, for both grounding us in who we are and inspiring us for who we want to be. For making our lives wide, and our world big.

This week, we found some time to explore these lessons in-depth at James Hite Park.

Our two-year old, Emelia, running at the beginning of the trail loop.

Located in a rural setting, James Hite Park was the perfect location for a family outing. Jefferson County Parks & Recreation’s newest park – which opened to the public in 2016, in part with funding from the Land & Water Conservation Fund – features multiple soccer fields, picnic pavilions, a playground, and public fishing, all encapsulated within a 2-mile walking loop. (If you’re as lucky as we are, you might even find some round bales along the trail to climb, jump, and play on – listen to Round Bale Wrastlin’ by native West Virginian musician Mr. Husband for inspiration.)

Although some parks in the county, such as James Hite Park, will be gated through the winter months, they are still open to pedestrian traffic. Park at the gate and get some exercise!

Land & Water Conservation Fund sign at the entrance of Hite Park.

Just as the trail looped us back around to where we started our walk, so too has the calendar looped us back around to the first month of the year: January.

And you know what that means – the West Virginia Legislative Session is about to begin! Due to the gubernatorial inauguration this year, the 2021 session will start a month late on Wednesday, February 10th and run through Saturday, April 10th.

As always, our Executive Director Angie Rosser will be there at the Capital (either virtually or in-person, following all safety protocols) to represent your interests for safe, clean water.

A few important reminders as we head into the legislative session:

  • Updating the human health criteria for our state’s water quality standards remains one of our top clean water priorities. This session, Legislators will be voting to update our water quality standards for 24 toxic chemicals. However, those updates would weaken standards for approximately half of the pollutants proposed to be updated. As a matter of policy, we do not support weakening any of our standards and especially for chemicals most harmful to public health. We’ll be sharing our full list of clean water priorities before the legislative session, so stay tuned!
  • Be informed, and get involved! You have three great options for learning about, and making your voice heard, on issues that impact West Virginia’s rivers:
    • Social Media – follow us on Facebook to see all of the action in your daily news feed.
    • Water Policy Updates – Sign up to receive weekly Water Policy Updates during the WV legislative session on policies that affect our water resources and simple actions you can take to keep your water safe.
    • Action Alerts – You’ll receive opportunities to take action via email throughout the session. It only takes you a few moments to truly make a difference. In 2018, over 10,000 West Virginia citizens responded to an Action Alert to save our state parks from commercial logging, effectively stopping the bill from passing. Your voice matters!

Slowing down at the end of the hike, getting a little help from her mama.

The walking loop at James Hite Park is beautifully designed – with ups and downs, overs and outs. We found ourselves running at times, walking at others. At some points we walked alone, at others we walked together. But through it all, we kept going. We went full circle.

The 2021 legislative session will be much the same. It may have ups, and will certainly have downs. We may need to sprint at times, and at others progress will come to a crawl. But whatever happens, we’ll keep going, because we know you stand with us.

You make our circle wide.

Together, we can reach across the world.

To clean water and clean hands,

Tanner Haid, Eastern Panhandle Field Coordinator

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