WV Public Lands: September 2023 Newsletter

See the Capitol Hill Christmas Tree on its West Virginia Tour

The Monongahela National Forest is providing the Capitol Hill Christmas Tree this year. The theme this year is “Endlessly Wild & Wonderful” – a tribute to West Virginia. Our U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has come from the Mon National Forest twice before. The first tree from the U.S. Forest Service came from the Monongahela National Forest in 1970. The Mon Forest also provided the Capitol Hill tree for our nation’s bicentennial in 1976.

You can follow the Christmas Tree across West Virginia as it makes its way to the U.S. Capitol. The tour kicks off on Saturday, November 4, 2023, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center (315 Railroad Ave, Elkins).

There are more events in Summersville (Nov 5); Marlinton (Nov 6); Beckley and Charleston (Nov 7); Huntington (Nov 8); Wheeling (Nov 9); Morgantown (Nov 10 & 11); Upper Track (Nov 12); Davis (Nov 13); Romney (Nov 14): and Harpers Ferry (Nov 25).

Details about each event are HERE.

The honor of providing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, and these events all over the Mountain State highlight West Virginia’s Crown Jewel of public lands, the Mon National Forest. WV Rivers provides information about the Mon Forest and an opportunity to discuss the clear, cool headwaters in the Forest. The Mon Forest website also has information.

Illustration of the Mon National Forest sign with a decorated tree next to it and a cardinal about to land on it's branch. There is a red ribbon below that says "2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree."

Here’s another fun way for children to support West Virginia’s contribution to our Capitol Christmas Tree. Fourth-grade students may submit a 500-word essay about why they love West Virginia’s forests and public lands, incorporating the 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree theme, “Endlessly Wild & Wonderful.” Senator Manchin will select the winning essay! Essays should be typed or scanned. More information and the submission form is HERE. Essays must be submitted by September 26, 2023.

Create the Mon: Still Time to Make Forest-Inspired Art

It is not too late to celebrate National Public Lands Day (September 23, 2023) while we #CreateTheMon. We will feature your art, videos, or photos inspired by our forest or created in the Mon Forest on that day. This might mean setting up your easel by the Shaver’s Fork, reciting a poem under a stand of red spruce, or singing a song atop your favorite overlook. Artists may also share a piece of work inspired in some way by the forest that they’ve already created.

On September 23, 2023, art creators may tag WV Rivers and West Virginians for Public Lands in their posts and use the hashtag #CreatetheMon. Submit your artwork/video/photos to be featured in a digital gallery and shared on WV Rivers and Public Lands social media.

Remember, we are visiting the Mon Forest, and the forest is home to many animal and plant species – some that live only in the Mon. Please do not move, rearrange, damage, or destroy any part of the forest or any element found in the forest.

Are you a forest-inspired artist in any medium? Register HERE, and together, we will #CreatetheMon. Got your artwork ready? Submit it here or use the button below.

Plans Still Not Announced for Summersville Lake State Park

We continue to watch for announcements for plans on Summersville Lake State Park and for the date and location of a public hearing. We will be sure to let you know about any plans or meetings. We want West Virginians, especially those in the Summersville area, to be fully informed – and have an opportunity to make their thoughts known about our newest public lands. In the meantine, read the Mountain State Spotlight’s recent article on Summersville Lake State Park.

DNR Public Lands Survey Still Taking Comments

As we discussed previously in the Public Lands News, West Virginians across the state attended meetings, signed petitions, filed lawsuits, and sent emails to stop a private mega RV resort at Cacapon Resort State Park. 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. There is still time to participate! Your efforts stopped the commercialization of Cacapon. But will your favorite State Park, Forest, Wildlife Management Area, or other public land be next? You can shape the future plans for our state lands by completing the survey. Please do this today if you haven’t already so that your voice is heard.

National Public Lands: Spotlight on Oil and Gas Leasing

There is still time to comment, but don’t delay. Click here or use the button to let the Bureau of Land Management know you support the proposed new rule for Fluid Mineral Leases and Leases Processes.

Recent legislation changed the leasing and bonding requirements for new oil and gas leases on our national public lands. BLM has now issued a proposed rule for Fluid Mineral Leases and Leases Processes. The national public lands oil and gas leasing programs were outdated, and reform is badly needed.

Public comments are due on September 22, 2023, and may be submitted on the eRulemaking Portal. This is your chance to let the BLM know your thoughts.

Quick Takes on Our Public Lands – Get Involved with WVPL!

A hiker at Lindy Point watches the sunset over the WV Wilderness in Blackwater Falls State Park. Photo by Kent Mason.

There is lots going on with our public lands. Here are some quick takes – and how to join with others in supporting our public lands as a member of West Virginians for Public Lands!

Mon Forest Snapshot Day is Next Weekend (10/1). We’re ordering lunches next week. Please register ASAP to let us know if you’ll join us to help monitor our headwater streams.This is a Water Quality Monitoring Event you don’t want to miss!

Congrats to the AFNHA: The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area Management Plan has been approved. The AFNHA was created in 2019, and this Mangement plan is the result of three years of community conversations and hard work.

Save Coonskin Park has 11,000 petition signatures! A proposal to expand the Charleston Airport would bury the forested hiking trails and the Coonskin Grotto (on the WV Waterfalls Trail) under 26 million cubic feet of dirt. A small group of local park lovers is taking action. In early September, they sent a letter telling 60 decision-makers about the 11,000 + people who like Coonskin Park the way it is.

Support our public lands: West Virginians for Public Lands (WVPL) is an alliance of organizations, businesses, and individuals advocating to protect and enhance West Virginia public lands for all. WVPL believes that West Virginia public lands, waters, and the wildlife that inhabit them are intrinsically valuable, and these special areas should be preserved, and where needed, restored. Is this something that you believe in too? We’d love you, your business, or your organization to be a part of this vision. Sign up HERE or click the button below.

Meet Your Public Lands – Can’t Go Wrong with Fall Leaves!

Fall means many things. One of the best parts of fall is leaf peeping! Our wooded and forested public lands, from the smallest city park to the Wild and Wonderful Mon National Forest, change from shades of green to vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges. Check out the map of when leaves are expected to change in your area.

Pick one (or more) of our unique and special local, state, or national public lands. Visit our West Virginia State Parks, Forests, and Rail Trials; a Wildlife Management Area; the Mon Forest; or America’s newest national park – and see the leaves for yourself!

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