This is another in a series of profiles of the member groups of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance.
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (WVHC), one of West Virginia’s oldest environmental organizations, was organized in 1965 as a coalition of recreational users in the West Virginia Highlands who came together to address a host of environmental threats to the state. In its nearly 55 years of existence, WVHC has dealt with an array of threats to West Virginia’s scenic ecology. It was instrumental in the passage of the Eastern Wilderness Areas Act, which led to the first Wilderness areas in the Eastern United States: Dolly Sods and Otter Creek. It initiated a campaign that lasted over 35 years to protect Canaan Valley and saw the successful establishment of a National Wildlife Refuge there.
From its earliest days, WVHC initiated campaigns to stop numerous dams proposed around the state, opposed the most devastating aspects of Corridor H carving through mountainous region, and helped enact important environment-protecting legislation such as the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). WVHC began its nearly 50 years of leadership on coal mining issues with the filing of its first lawsuit against strip mining in 1967. In 1998 WVHC joined local citizens as the first organization to mount legal challenges to the destructive practice of mountaintop removal and valley fills.
Among the many outreach activities of the Conservancy are its monthly newspaper, The Highlands Voice (https://wvhighlands.org/highlands-voice-mag/), and its Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide (https://wvhighlands.org/hiking-guides/).
WVHC is a founding member of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance. Its current President, Larry Thomas, was on the committee that organized ABRA. He now serves as Treasurer of the ABRA Board of Directors and is a member of the ABRA Steering Committee. WVHC is also a prominent financial supporter of ABRA’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) program.
Individuals interested in joining the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy are encouraged to do so at https://wvhighlands.org/membershiprenewals/. Membership begins at only $15 and it is well worth it.