WV Public Lands: December 2023 Newsletter
Thank You: A Year of Protecting Public Lands
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We are deeply grateful for your citizen advocacy all year! In this Winter Holiday season, its a great time to celebrate your efforts for public lands in West Virginia.
You all stepped up and showed your dedication for the proper management and conservation of our local, state, and federal public lands. Here’s just some of what you have accomplished:
- Fought back attempts to allow motorized trails in all forests.
- Told the House of Delegates that you wanted legislation amended to prohibit motorized trails in all State Parks and every State Forests (except Cabawaylingo).
- Let DNR and other state officials know that the proposed RV park and luxury amenities plans for Cacapon Resort State Park were not compatible with that special land. You can still let DNR know your thoughts about how to use and conserve our public lands.
- Supported new rules in the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management to have commonsense rules for future oil and gas leases on federal public lands – making the drilling companies pay the real cost for restoration of public lands.
- More than 11,000 Coonskin Park fans signed petitions, wrote letters, and rallied to support this beautiful county public land threatened by a controversial airport runway extension. Learn more about this effort HERE.
This is advocacy that works! Again, you made this happen.
Winter on Hills Creek by Chad Cordell
Looking for more ways to get involved?
1. Join environmental and conservation partners at “Environmental Day” at the legislature on February 13, 2024. Be sure to register now!
2. “Save the date” for an online advocacy training lunch and learn on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, at noon. Registration information is coming soon.
3. Join West Virginians for Public Lands in 2024 to conserve and manage our wild and wonderful public lands.
Look for our Special Edition on the 2024 legislature – coming soon!
Making Public Lands Welcoming to All
Co-founders of Our Parks Too! Kristen Walker (She/Her) and Diamon Clark (She/Her) smiling on a trail surrounded by rhododendrons. (Photo Courtesy of Our Parks Too!)
West Virginia’s public lands are for everyone!
Recently, Kristen Walker, co-founder of Our Parks Too!, visited the Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park and shared her experience with the Sierra Club.
Our Parks Too’s goal is to visit all 63 National Parks and other public lands to show that all folks, especially Black and Brown people, can enjoy and experience public lands.
In a video shared by the Sierra Club of Kristen’s trip to Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park, she stated, “Spending time in nature has various physical benefits, as well as mental benefits, including reducing stress and improving mood.”
When we think about barriers to accessing our public lands, that can include transportation, having the right clothes and equipment, and knowledge about what to do on public lands.
It is also true that our parks and public lands were developed during times of segregation. Not considering people of color during development created a systemic problem that, to this day, causes many marginalized people to feel unsafe. A recent article discusses how to make wilderness public lands more welcoming.
WVPL wants to make our public lands more inviting for all. Watch for more information about this effort in 2024.
Legislature Starts in January: Tell us your Public Lands Priorities
The West Virginia Legislature begins its 2024 Regular Session on January 10, 2024. WVPL will be watching for Public Lands bills. We are prioritizing:
- Nature-based, non-motorized recreation compatible with public lands in our Parks, Forest, Wildlife Management Areas, and other state lands.
- Robust funding for staff and maintenance.
- Protection of our wild and wonderful rivers, streams, and waters.
Look for our Special Edition about the Legislature in the first week of January! Learn about how a bill is filed, cross over day, and other important parts of making a new law. Don’t miss this important information. In the meantime, you can check out the advocacy training that WV Trails recently presented!
Quick Takes on Our Public Lands News & How to Get Involved!
Logo for the Monongahela National Forest 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree illustration.
Even though it is the holiday season, a lot is going on in our Wild Wonderful public lands. Here’s some quick takes of important news and opportunities to get involved:
Congrats to Friends of the Cheat, The Nature Conservancy, and Caanan Valley National Wildlife Refuge for the grant to complete brook trout stream clearing, forest and red spruce restoration, and monitoring area ecosystems. Here’s more information about the grant program.
EXPLORE Act: The “Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act” has been filed in the U.S. House of Representatives. With bipartisan support, EXPLORE ACT will address access, modernize the user experience, and otherwise enhance our enjoyment of federal public lands. Here’s the BILL HR 6492 to read.
Be part of the process. It is not too late to share your priorities for the 2024 West Virigina Legislature: Tell us what you think with this quick survey.
Submission to our “Create the Mon” Digital Gallery by Abigail Montgomery. (@_abimontg on Instagram.)
Forest as Art: Be sure to check out the “Create the Mon” online art gallery!
Tell the Department of Natural Resources what you think should be in your WV State Parks and other state public lands by completing the survey. Please do this today, if you haven’t already, so that your voice is heard.
Support our public lands: West Virginians for Public Lands (WVPL) believes that West Virginia public lands, waters, and the wildlife that inhabit them are intrinsically valuable, and these special areas should be preserved. 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.
Winter in West Virginia Public Lands
This month we … are not going to feature just one public land.
It is your turn. Visit your favorite public lands – or a new public land for you this month … and post a picture of you, your family, your dog – or just the scenery – on Facebook, X (Twitter), or Instagram with the hashtag:
That’s all you have to do. Show off your favorite spot in any local, state, or federal WV public land.
Enjoying a Mon Forest headwater, post that picture with the hashtag #monforestheadwaters.
Be sure to tag WVPL on your pictures. Not following us? Check us out here:
X (Twitter): @WV4PublicLands
A hiker at Lindy Point watches the sunset over the WV Wilderness in Blackwater Falls State Park. Photo by Kent Mason.