My First Month on the Job

by Mike Jones, Public Lands Campaign Coordinator

I’m Mike Jones and for those I haven’t met yet, hello! I am WV Rivers Coalition’s new Public Lands Campaign Coordinator. I joined the team in Mid-January and the first couple months just flown by. I really want to thank everyone for the warm welcome. I have had a chance to meet with many of you already, and met others in various groups and meetings.

It is inspirational to know there are so many dedicated folks working so hard to protect our West Virginia public lands. I’d love to know more about you, your group, and your public land concerns.

Please email me any time here. I’d be happy to set up a meeting for us. If you’d like to know more about me and my background (and the rest of the WV Rivers Coalition staff), here’s the link.

One of the best things I do in this job is work with the West Virginians for Public Lands (WVPL) alliance. This group includes over 50 organizations, 70 businesses, and 100s of individual West Virginians concerned about maintaining and retaining our public lands. We’ve held several meetings since I’ve started, and the public land challenges all over the State are immediately apparent.

Some of the issues WVPL alliance members are working on include:

  • a more ecological and community sensitive route for the proposed Corridor H highway through the Blackwater Falls area;
  • the possibility of using newly appropriated Abandoned Mine Lands funds for Acid Mine Drainage set asides; and
  • better protection for the endangered Candy Darter and for Cranberry Glades area through the Monongahela National Forest management plan.

Blackwater Falls State Park by Kent Mason.

If your group would like to join WVPL, or to find more about what we do, please contact me. We want to grow our business and individual support as well. Find out more about how businesses can support our efforts for public lands here. And be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter.

West Virginia has amazing state public lands – 37 state parks, 7 state forests, and numerous wildlife management areas. Hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, swimming, boating, and other land-friendly recreation activities are available at many of these state lands.

West Virginia also has substantial federal public lands, including almost 1 million protected acres in the Mon National Forest. The Mon is home to at least 12 headwaters that flow into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to the East and Ohio River Watershed (and ultimately the Mississippi River) to the West. No wonder West Virginia is the Mother of Rivers.

Of course there are numerous county and city public lands also. I’m making my list of the “must see” areas of West Virginia public lands (okay, I know it is ALL of WV!). Send me your favorite public land to my email so I make sure to see it and know about its issues.

Hiking in the Monongahela National Forest. Photo by Kent Mason.

I look forward to working with all of you. And hearing about your local public lands!

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