WV Public Lands News: June 2022

What Do YOU Value about the Mon National Forest?

Knapp Creek, born in the Monongahela National Forest, serves as the drinking water source for the town of Marlinton.

The final report from the Monongahela National Forest virtual listening sessions held by West Virginia Rivers Coalition last year will be available soon! We’ll provide you with the report when published.

In Fall 2021, listening sessions on Zoom brought together individuals concerned with the Mon to talk about hiking, hunting and fishing, boating, paddling, clean water, and other outdoor recreation opportunities. Participants expressed their love for the forest and the desire to assure that everyone will be able to continue to enjoy the Mon.

Themes we heard throughout the listening sessions include the need for intentional trail management and improvement, safeguards for wilderness areas like Dolly Sods and Bear Rocks Preserves in light of increased visitation, mapping of the forest, invasive species management, and addressing access issues.

Folk also mentioned protection for the many headwater streams in the Mon. The streams born in the Monongahela National Forest ultimately flow into the Chesapeake Bay and the Ohio watersheds – providing drinking water for millions of Americans.

The report and findings will be shared in Mon Forest communities soon. There will be opportunities to talk about what you value in the Mon Forest, and learn about policy recommendations to make sure it happens!

If you would like to know more about the Listening Report and upcoming meetings, please email Mike Jones.

Biden Executive Order Protecting Mature and Older Growth Forests

Recognizing the importance of older trees for climate resilience and forest ecosystems, President Biden used Earth Day 2022 to issue an executive order protecting our National Forest lands.

The executive order identifies forests as special places where we go “to hike, camp, hunt, fish, and engage in recreation that revitalizes our souls and connects us to history and nature.” In the order, the administration committed to:

“manage forests on Federal lands, which include many mature and old-growth forests, to promote their continued health and resilience; retain and enhance carbon storage; conserve biodiversity; mitigate the risk of wildfires; enhance climate resilience; enable subsistence and cultural uses; provide outdoor recreational opportunities; and promote sustainable local economic development.”

Gaudier Scenic Area is home to old growth Red Spruce. Photo by elkinsrandolphwv.com. 

The order will require the US Forest Service to prepare a compete inventory of mature and old growth forests in the national forest system in the coming year. West Virginia is the third most forested state in the US and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the report.

In fact, we have over a million acres of federal forest land between the Mon, Washington and Jefferson National Forests. We applaud the Administration’s attention to mature and old growth forests. More information about old growth forests can be found here.

Sharing Our Public Lands

We humans certainly enjoy our public lands but we are not alone! These lands are home to a diversity of wildlife, including this little fellow who was spotted in early April ambling along one of the hiking trails of North Bend State Park.

The Eastern Box Turtle is identified by its high domed hinged shell which it can close when threatened. Box turtles live within a defined range; and if removed from that range, they will attempt to return. So it’s important to only observe Box Turtles in their habitat and leave them where you find them.

However, sometimes they need a little extra help. Box Turtles often have to cross the road to get where they are going. Here’s what you can do to help them out:

  • Safely stop your car on the side of the road
  • Find out which direction the turtle is traveling
  • Gently move them off the road in the direction they are headed

Box turtles have very long lifespans and can live for more than 100 years, though most usually don’t live longer than 30 or 40 years. Sadly, the box turtle population is declining in West Virginia. WVDNR maintains a citizen scientist website where you can post your Box Turtle sightings to help them study populations.

Meet Your Public Lands – St. Albans City Park

Our public lands are not just state or federal parks and forests. Many of our towns and cities provide welcome respites from the pressures of the day to take a quick hike or just to sit and contemplate the beauty of nature. Urban parks – even tree lined streets – make for a cooler environment and a more pleasurable way of life. Learn about the benefits of small parks. St. Albans City Park begins its recreation season in April of this year. The city park provides playgrounds, picnic shelters, and disc golf. Dogs are welcome in the dog park.

The city park even has butterfly and pollinator garden that attracts migrating monarch butterflies. The wooded areas of St Albans City Park have multiple hiking and biking trails. For more information about the St Albans City Park, check out their website.

Visit your local park soon! Send us pictures of the public lands that are right there in your town or city!

Save the Date: Celebrate the 50th Birthday of the Clean Water Act on June 26

For 50 years, the Clean Water Act has dramatically reduced pollution and improved water quality across the country. The Clean Water Act has three goals: fishable, swimmable, drinkable water for all.

Our public lands feature streams, rivers, and lakes; and the Clean Water Act helps assure we can conserve and restore West Virginia’s exceptional rivers and streams! WVPL will be joining with WV Rivers to celebrate 50 years of the Clean Water Act on Sunday, June 26, during our Clean Water Act Birthday Party. Please join our event on Facebook to let us know you are coming!

Also, let us know if you have any celebrations planned this summer for clean water, email us with the details.

Have You Taken the WV Climate Pledge?

Billboards are popping up around the state to raise awareness on climate change. Have you spotted one? Snap a picture, email it to us and we’ll send you some swag!

WVPL celebrated Earth Day at the WVU Sierra Student Coalition Earth Day and at “Touch the Earth” in Morgantown.

It was great meeting West Virginians of all ages and backgrounds that support public lands, are concerned for clean water in West Virginia, and who recognize that we all need to do our part to fight climate change!

Join the more than 500 advocates who have taken a stand against climate change by signing the WV Climate Pledge. Add your name!

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