Big Run Pump Storage Project Appears to be Dead

Last month Randy Kesling updated you on the continuing saga of the pump storage project proposed by FreedomWorks, LLC for the Big Run area of Tucker County. You may recall that the Forest Service rejected FreedomWorks’ application for a Special Use Permit (SUP) to conduct feasibility studies on National Forest land due to the inconsistency of [...]

Thoughts from our president

The mountains received some severe windy and rainy weather during March and April. Driving through the mountain’s unpaved roads you can see the evidence in the form of numerous potholes, significant erosion and downed trees that have been cut back to allow vehicles to pass. It appears that the same weather patterns will continue into [...]

Stalking the Stream Critters, aka “Benthic Macroinvertebrates”

By Cindy Ellis Recently I joined volunteers who wanted to know more about living beings in West Virginia’s waterways. Fifteen of us gathered on the banks of Davis Creek in Kanawha State Forest on a mild spring day to learn about flipping rocks and finding what lies beneath. We plunged into our lessons and were [...]

Opposing Narrowing Clean Water Protections

By John McFerrin The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, along with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and several other groups, has commented on the latest proposal to restrict the coverage of the federal Clean Water Act. If the proposed restrictions become final, it will result in a loss of protection for most headwater streams and many wetlands [...]

How Stands the Atlantic Coast Pipeline?

If it seems as if there has not been much going on with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) lately, it is because there hasn’t.  Construction activities on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are currently suspended because of the loss of a key permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service related to the agency’s assessment of [...]

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Makes Pipeline Permitting Easier

By John McFerrin The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has changed the conditions that are placed on permits for stream and wetland crossings for natural gas pipelines. Background Under the federal and state Clean Water Acts, anybody who wants to cross a stream or a wetland must have a permit.  It has a [...]

Adventures in Butterflies

By Steve Mace This past Sunday while I was botanizing in Lawrence County, Kentucky, I spotted my first of the season Falcate Orangetip, my favorite butterfly. The life history of this species is as interesting as it is beautiful. Thirty-eight of the last 40 years of my life was spent in Mason County, West Virginia [...]

Still in Need of Something to read?

The Central Appalachian Red Spruce Initiative.  (West Virginia Highlands Conservancy is a partner in CASRI) was an important part of a feature article in the Energy and Environment News.  The entire story is way too long to reprint here.  To see the whole thing, go to        The story is a good read not [...]

Questions Raised about Proposed Mine Safety Testing Facility

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) wants to build a facility that it could use for studies and research on mine explosions, mine seals, mine rescue, ventilation, diesel exhaust, new health and safety technologies, ground control, and fire suppression.  It would like [...]

Big Fun on the Horizon!

The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Fall Review will be Oct. 18-19-20, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Put it on your calendar now, in big letters, and plan to be there.  We have a committee that is working on planning a fun time for everybody.  It will also be the Annual Meeting of the West Virginia Highlands [...]

The Broad Form of the Company’s Deeds

(Grandad all you bought was the air)   .„and excepting and reserving all the coal and other minerals and other substances on, in,  and underlying said land together with the right of removing and taking away the coal and other minerals and other substances from adjoining and adjacent land through any openings and the right [...]

Pump Storage: a Case Study

By Dave Cooper Recent articles in The Highlands Voiceabout the proposed Big Run Pump Storage project in Tucker County written by Kent Karriker and Randy Kesling have been both interesting and informative. Here is a little more background and history about pump storage for those wanting more information. In 2005, in the midst of the [...]

Interior Department Must Do Environmental Assessment Before Leasing Coal on Public Lands

A United States District Court in Montana has ruled that the United States Departmental of the Interior acted illegally when it tried to lift a memorandum on leasing coal on public lands. Background One of the biggest subsidies that the United States gives the coal industry is that it leases coal on public lands at [...]

Strip Mines and Health

By John McFerrin There have been some developments of interest to those who are concerned that large strip mines might be making people sick. The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has long been one of many groups and individuals who have been concerned about the possibility that large strip mines were causing an increase in the [...]

Board Highlights

The spring Board meeting of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy was more informational than decisional.  We had the usual presentations on the status of the organization:  financial (not broke; not flush either); membership (stable); webmaster (good shape). In the President’s report, Larry talked about some of the things he has coming up. On May 4 [...]

If Everybody Did

By John McFerrin One of the books of my youth was If Everybody Did.  It was a series pictures of behaviors followed by what would happen if everyone took the same actions.  My personal favorite was, “You throw your oatmeal on the floor.  Think what would happen if everybody did.”  Turn the page and there [...]

President Trump Signs Executive Order to Speed up Pipeline Construction

By John McFerrin On April 10, 2019, President Trump signed the Executive Order on Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth.  Its goal is to speed up the construction of oil and gas pipelines. The first section of the Order sets out its purpose. It is nothing that anyone who has listened to President Trump and his [...]