WV Public Lands: Victory in the Legislature, Connector Trails, Conversation on Headwaters
Because of Your Actions: A Victory for Public Lands
You did it! Twice. First, there was a proposed amendment in the Senate Outdoor Recreation Committee which would have allowed off-road vehicles in all our State Forests. You called and emailed, and that amendment was defeated in committee. Then, the House proposed an amendment to prohibit all off-road motorized trails in all State Parks and Forests. You called and emailed – and this amendment passed on voice vote with no opposition. Two huge victories for our public lands.
Motorized trails are expensive to construct and maintain, cause soil and habitat degradation, threaten watersheds and streams, and impact hunting and fishing. Prohibiting motorized trails in our public lands is commonsense policy – it makes sure that the unique and special places we enjoy and recreate in remain wild and wonderful.
The House passed this important protection 94-4. The Senate concurred in the amendment overwhelmingly passed the no-motorized trail provision 32-1! You can see the bill and the approved amendment on the information about SB 468.
Hundreds of you sent emails and called your representatives. Your actions mattered. These actions made the difference. Together, we protected the parks and forests we all love.
We want to be sure to thank our Delgates and Senators for standing up for public lands.
If you have not thanked them already, here is an easy action to take to thank your Delegate and both Senators. Thank them for saying no to off-road vehicles on any more of our State Public Lands.
Connector Trails: What are they?
Even before the legislative session this year, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was planning to create “connector trails” between private off-road trail systems (like Hatfield McCoy) and at least two State Parks – Chief Logan and Twin Falls.
The legislature stated that these connector trails can be used by ATV, ORV, and UTV to access recreation areas and lodging on public lands. We wonder exactly what this will look like – and what impact it will have on these important State Parks. Look for a report about Chief Logan and where these connector trails might go in our next issue of the Public Lands News.
Other Legislative Actions
The legislature created a State Parks Enhancement Loan Insurance Program as a loan guarantee for private improvements on our state lands, with the total amount of projects capped. Previously, interest on these funds were used for park maintenace. We will watch this fund and continue to advocate for reasonable non-motorized development in state parks and to assure that maintenance needs are funded.
Other important bills passed that protect our public lands and waters. The PFAS Protection Act addresses the presence of PFAS in source water, including for several public lands. More information about PFAS can be found HERE. Additional funding (but still not enough) was obtained for oil and gas well inspectors.
Two concerning bills were defeated: one would make the DEP responsible for radiation monitoring and potentially allowing nuclear waste; the second would place a 60-day moratorium on forest carbon agreements.
Conversation on Headwaters: Join us on March 23
West Virginia Rivers has finished its community conversations in Mon Forest Towns about recreation opportunities in the Mon Forest. The message was loud and clear: ensure our tradition of pure pristine Mon Forest headwaters now and for future generations. We want your input on how best to protect these headwaters and hear about your concerns for any headwaters policy. Please join us for a “Conversation on Headwaters” on March 23, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. Sign up for your place in the conversation
Talking About Our Mon Forest Headwaters in Washington
Did you know that 9% of Americans look to the Mon Forest headwaters as the ultimate source for their drinking? That one-half of Americans can drive to the Mon Forest for recreation in less than 1 day?
Mike Jones talked with staffers of both US Senators and both Representatives last week about the importance of assuring our tradition of pure pristine Mon Forest headwaters. Mike shared with them WV River’s report of concerns of Mon Forest recreation users and community reactions asking to protect these headwaters. Here is Mike’s final recap report.
Meet Your Public Lands – Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park
This month, we are staying in the center of the state, to visit Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park.
Carnifex Ferry is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail. An 1861 battle was fought to here to continue Union control of the Kanawha River valley. The 156-acre State Park has hiking trails with multiple scenic overlooks, picnic facilities and group shelters, and amble recreation. Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park is close Summerville Lake, many other state public lands, and the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
Check out this article about how Carnifex Ferry Battlefield SP’s Patterson Trail is a stairway to (almost) heaven.
Carnifex Ferry is located at 1194 Carnifex Ferry Crossing, Summersville, WV 26651