WV Public Lands: Yeager Airport Expansion; Old Growth Forest Inventory; Meet Panther State Forest

Yeager Airport Expansion Would Affect Coonskin Park

Yeager Airport in Charleston has proposed to lengthen its main runway. The project is about to start its environmental review process. We are concerned with the proposal’s potential impacts to Coonskin Park.

The park was established over 50 years ago, and is rightly described as “one of the most beautiful parks in the region.” The park has over 1,000 acres of woodlands, hiking and biking trails, and other recreational opportunities.

Advocates hike one of the many forested trails in Coonskin Park.

The proposal, as written, would excavate millions of tons of soil from the park to build the runway expansion. Approximately 400 acres of the parks 1,000 acres would be disturbed. Additionally, we are concerned about water quality impacts to the near by Elk River and Coonskin Branch. Currently the plans would divert Coonskin Branch through a culvert under the expanded runway.

We have questions about this project and are waiting for the environmental review process to begin, which involves a public comment period.

If you are interested receiving official updates from the project, email info@YeagerAirportEIS.com and ask to be put on the notification list. If you have stories about Coonskin Park or pictures about your hikes there, please send them to Mike Jones.

Old Growth Forest Inventory Public Comment Extended

Old growth hemlocks in Cathedral State Park. Photo by wvstateparks.com.

The Forest Service has extended the public comment period on defining and inventorying of old growth forests until August 30. Earlier this year, President Biden issued an Executive Order recognizing the vital ecological importance of older, mature, and “old growth” forests. These forests are to be identified, inventoried, and protected.

It’s important that the definition adopted by the Forest Service include considerations of the unique characteristics of our Appalachian and other Eastern U.S. Forests.

Specifically, we are asking the Forest Service to:

  • Recognize small groves of tree for protection;

  • To verify computer modeling and legacy inventories of forests for accuracy; and

  • Allow the public to submit groves trees for consideration.

Have your voice heard too! Information about older forests, and the link to make public comments to the Forest Service, may be found here. Information on old growth areas on WV federal and state public lands are here

Sneak Peek – Advocate Training Program

We’re pulling aside the curtain to give Public Lands News readers a sneak peek: There will be a virtual program this Fall to help you flex your advocacy muscle and meet with your state Delegate or Senator to talk about the issues that matter to you.

We’re still finalizing the logistics, but read next month’s Public Lands News for more information on the program.

You can be a powerful voice for change!

Meet Your Public Lands – Panther State Forest

Public Lands are everywhere. But, we’ve wondered for a while how public lands fare in McDowell County – a county off the beaten path of well-known public land tourist sites.

Panther State Forest, part of the surrounding Panther Wildlife Management area, is West Virginia’s southernmost state recreation land. It covers 7,800 acres and is a favorite destination for sportspeople with designated hunting areas, and Panther Creek is seasonally stocked with trout for anglers. (Don’t forget to get your WV Hunting and Fishing licenses!) Panther Creek flows into the Tug Fork.

Panther Creek, which gives the forest its name, is seasonally stocked with trout. 

The park gets its name from an incident when a settler killed a panther in the early 1800s!

Panther State Forest has electric powered camping sites from $19 per night. There’s a swimming pool, and miles of hiking trails and unimproved roads for non-motorized use.

Environmental Summit – September 24-25

The West Virginia Environmental Council is holding the 2022 Environmental Summit on September 24 & 25 to discuss the future of WV’s environmental movement.

The keynote address will be delivered by Mary Anne Hitt, the Senior Director of Climate Imperative. The agenda for the Summit includes discussions of WV environmentalism, growing the movement, and legislative strategies.

Fun activities include a hike at Cooper’s Rock State Forest (partially sponsored by WVPL) and zip lining. The Summit will be held at the WVU Natural Resources Center, Morgantown, WV. You can register here.

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