WV Public Lands: July 2023 Newsletter

“Conversation on Headwaters”

The Mon Forest is the crown jewel of West Virginia public lands. Major rivers in West Virginia start out in the Allegheny Highlands in the Mon Forest – 8 Rivers in Pocahontas County alone. Mon Forest headwaters are the ultimate source of clean drinking water in the Chesapeake and Ohio watersheds and provide habitat and wildlife to support all kinds of outdoor recreation.

Please join the gathering at Elkins Town Square (at the Depot). It’s a free event and no registration is needed. There will be live music, light refreshments, and information regarding the importance of Mon Forest headwaters and the work WV Rivers is doing in the Mon Forest. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and get more information about the Mon Forest headwaters – and share their ideas and concerns.

WV Rivers previously hosted a virtual “Conversation on Headwaters” on March 23. If you missed the presentation, or want to review it, here are the recording and the slides presented.

Folks all over the state can now give opinions for providing permanent safeguards to our Mon Forest Headwaters and what concerns you may have about new policies. Whether you can attend the event in Elkins or not – fill out the survey or click on the button below.

Legislative Update: Join WV Rivers for “Advocacy that Works”

Advocacy is difficult and frustrating, but WV Rivers, working with other groups and the WV Environmental Council lobbyists, achieved many legislative priorities this year. From passage of PFAS Protection Act, to additional funding for state oil and gas inspectors, to a ban on any further expansion of motorized off-road trails in state parks and forests – advocacy work.

Join this presentation where the lobbyists will discuss the strategies that build relationships with legislators. Just as important to legislative victories the efforts of West Virginians accross the state! We want to help everyone become even more effective local advocates with your State Senator or Delegate.

Fill out the registration form for the July 26 at 7:00 p.m. Zoom Presentation.

DNR Public Lands Survey Still Taking Comments

As we discussed in last month’s Public Lands Newsthe State has rejected all the private RV park proposals for the Cacapon Resort State Park. Local folks and West Virginians statewide went to meetings, signed petitions, filed lawsuits, and sent emails. The State has now opened a survey where you can tell the Department of Natural Resources what you think should be in your WV State Parks and other state public lands.

One question in the survey will have plenty of space for you to share all your ideas. Please include all your thoughts. Some ideas you might include are:

  • Stay true to the mission of State Parks: “promote conservation by preserving and protecting natural areas of unique or exceptional scenic, scientific, cultural, archaeological or historical significance.” 
  • Our State Parks should not be profit centers for private developers for mega resorts or private amenities. 
  • Recreation allowed in all state public lands should be nature-based and non-motorized.

Your efforts stopped the commercialization of Cacapon Resort State Park. But will your favorite State Park, Forest, or other public land be next? You can shape the future plans for our state lands by completing the survey. Please do this today. Have your voice heard.

Public Lands Spotlight on AFNHA: Forest Grant Applications due July 31

The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area (AFNHA) has opened the application process for its 2023 Forest Grants. These grants range from $1,000 to $20,000; and may be used for projects that identify and preserve forest assets, assist in interpretation, supports sustainable tourism, or helps build the AFNHA coalition of partners. More information about the grants and the application can be found here. Grant applications, which must be made by a non-profit or governmental organization, are due July 31.

The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area celebrates the central Appalachian forest and the history, culture, natural resources, and forest heritage in 16 west Virginia Counties (and 2 western Maryland counties). National designation occurred in March 2019. AFNHA has recently submitted it Management Plan to the National Park Service.

Care Needed in Wilderness Areas

Its summer, and that means adventures in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. Both residents and visitors love our special and unique local, state, and national public lands. Care must be taken to assure that enjoyment of public lands does not result in damage to irreplaceable lands.

In partnership with the Forest Service, WV Highlands Conservancy provides training for Wilderness Trailhead Stewards in Dolly Sods. Wilderness stewards provide education at trail heads about protecting the trails and the wilderness areas. Most people have good intentions when using public lands. The Stewards use these good intentions as a basis for Mon Forest users to learn about the “Authority of the Resource” and good practices to assure resource conservation.

Meet Your Public Lands – America’s Newest National Park

While some National Parks only have a few thousand visitors each year, that is certainly not true for American’s newest national park.

Meet the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. In the two years since Congress designated West Virginia’s first National Park, New River Gorge has had more than 1.6 million visitors each year (2021 and 2022). People use well-known trails and take in the spectacular view of the New River Gorge Bridge a short hike from the visitor’s center. There are other unique places in the New River Gorge: subsistence Appalachian farmsteads, the African American Heritage Auto Tour, and hiking near the Sandstone Visitors Center in the southern part of our National Park. General information about the Park is located here.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Canyon Rim Visitors Center is located at 162 Visitor Center Road, Lansing, WV 25862.

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