Pipelines and the National Forests: A Conflict of Values

By Lewis Freeman, Executive Director, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance It has been over four years since the first proposals were set forth to build two natural gas pipelines that begin in the Marcellus shale fields of central West Virginia, both designed principally to provide fuel for public utility electricity generation. The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline would [...]

Congress fails to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund

National and State of West Virginia conservation and recreation groups have requested that legislators permanently reauthorize theLand and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and not to allow the LWCF to expire on September 30. Unfortunately, that did not happen. LWCF has supported “wild and wonderful” icons of West Virginia like the Monongahela National Forest, New River [...]

So what’s the answer?

The story on the Allegheny Front Migration Observatory in the September issue of The Highlands Voicegave an example of a question that a volunteer there would pose to visitors: Which do you think weighs more…a hummingbird or a ping pong ball? The story did not give the answer. A ping pong ball weighs 2.7 grams.  [...]

Where it Began

Now that the new edition of the Hiking Guide to the Monongahela National Forest has come out, it is interesting to see where it all began. This is from the August, 1971, issue of The Highlands Voice:   A HIKING GUIDE TO THE MONONGAHELA NATIONAL FOREST The U.S. Forest Service's management of the various ''values" of [...]

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Gets Another Go-Ahead

In September, The Highlands Voice reported that construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline had been stopped by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) because it did not have proper permits.  The permits involved the developers’ duties under the Endangered Species Act and in crossing the Appalachian Trail. Now the developers have received new approvals from [...]

Plan for Logging in Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Draws Fire

By Rick Steelhammer A plan to commercially log at least 1,600 acres of northern hardwood forest in Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge to achieve wildlife and plant habitat improvement goals is drawing fire from conservation groups. The plan calls for an additional 1,600 acres to be cut, using both in-house and contract commercial timbering, to [...]

Entrance Fees in State Parks?????

A legislative audit has recommended that the Legislature should consider entrance fees for state parks.  The park system estimates that the states needs between $75 million and $100 million for capital improvements and maintenance.  During the 2018 Legislative session the Legislature approved a $60 million Lottery bond issue.  This will pay for some of the [...]

Forest Service Thinking about Drilling in National Forests

By John McFerrin The United States Forest Service is considering revising its rules that govern drilling for oil and gas in the National Forests. Background The United States Forest Service (a part of the United States Department of Agriculture) manages and protects 154 national forests, 20 grasslands and 1 prairie in 43 states and Puerto [...]


“I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.”  So says a line of a beloved children’s book. At this time of year, we urge you VOTE for the trees…and the mountains…and the streams…and more.  Through actions of the current federal and state administrations, we have seen repeated attacks upon our natural treasures.  Please do [...]

Maybe a New Acquisition for the Monongahela National Forest?

            The United States Forest Service has an opportunity to acquire a 367 acre tract known as the Hooke Property. The property has high recreational value because it lies directly in the viewshed of the popular overlook on Gaudineer Knob.  This parcel is surrounded by National Forest land, so it presents an opportunity to ensure [...]


By Rick Webb, Highlands Conservancy Board Member and Chair of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance CSI Program The Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI), a program of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA), is working to crowdsource oversight of Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction. In support of this effort, ABRA has published the CSI Mapping System 4.0, a unique online [...]

Pipelines crossing the streams near you

By Cindy Rank ADMISSION: Having participated in, closely studied, and been fairly conversant with legal issues and challenges involving water law and problems caused by the coal industry – mainly centered on acid mine drainage from 1979 to 1998, then valley fills and mountaintop removal from 1998 through 2018 – I find myself flummoxed by [...]

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Wants to Make Pipeline Permitting Easier

By John McFerrin The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is trying to change the conditions that are placed on permits for stream and wetland crossings for natural gas pipelines.  The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has joined with Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, [...]

Department of the Interior Kills Rule to Prevent Methane Waste on Public Lands

By John McFerrin The United States Department of the Interior has eliminated a rule that would reduce the leaking of methane from wells on public land. The rule being eliminated would have both reduced emissions and increased revenue from gas produced on public lands. The rule had survived Congressional and Legislative efforts to kill it.  At [...]

Mountain Valley Pipeline Halted (for now) in Summers County

The Circuit Court of Summers County (Robert Irons, J) has granted a temporary stay of construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline where it is proposed to cross the Greenbrier River in Summers County. The stay request was sought by Greenbrier River Watershed Association, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Ashby Berkley, and Ty and Susan Bouldin. The [...]