Common Mergansers on the Greenbrier River

Photo by Louanne M Fatora

Happy New Year &

Thank you so much!

Thank you to so many of you who renewed their membership!

Your support is immeasurable and allows us to continue the work.

We look forward to new projects and events in 2023!

If you haven't renewed yet, you can do so HERE

Felled trees are shown in 2018 on Peters Mountain just below the ridgeline, which the Appalachian Trail follows. The Mountain Valley Pipeline route through the Jefferson National Forest would take it beneath the trail.

The Roanoke Times, File 2018

Amended Forest Service guidelines could remove Mountain Valley Pipeline roadblock

The Roanoke Times/ December 23, 2022

The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests issued a revised environmental impact statement Friday that could remove a major obstacle to completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The U.S. Forest Service has proposed new construction guidelines that, if adhered to, would enable the 303-mile intrastate natural gas pipeline to traverse a 3.5-mile section of the Jefferson National Forest in Giles and Montgomery counties, the project’s final missing link.

The revised environmental impact statement considered two alternatives. One would have taken no action to revise the regulations, which could have dealt the controversial project a potential death blow. It would have required the project to remove sections of pipe currently stored above ground and to restore soil and vegetation altered by digging or timbering.

The second alternative, which the Forest Service has recommended, would “allow for the construction, operation, and maintenance” of the pipeline.

Legal challenges by environmental and citizens groups and environmental complicance penalties have delayed completion of the pipeline as project construction costs have grown to $6.6 billion.

A 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in early 2022 revoked MVP’s permit to cross federal land by ruling that the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management failed to properly predict and prevent erosion and sedimentation caused by the massive infrastructure project.

The appeals court also ruled that the Forest Service failed to comply with its own planning rules and that it prematurely authorized the crossings of some streams in the national forest.

In response, the Forest Service was directed to draw up the “Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” issued Friday. That 188-page document proposes amended guidelines which, if adopted and followed, the Forest Service said would minimize the short- and long-term environmental effects of building and maintaining the 42-inch diameter underground pipeline.

“These amended standards are required to make the construction, operation, and maintenance of the MVP through the JNF a conforming use under the Forest Plan,” the revised environmental impact statement said.

The amended standards would:

Use a a 600-foot-long bore for the pipeline to cross beneath the Appalachian Trail. “The long-term effects would be minor due to an approximate 300-foot buffer on either side of the trail and vegetative screening of the bore holes,” the Forest Service said.

Specify an underground bore method for the pipeline to cross four streams on Forest Service lands, instead of a dry-ditch open trench. “Effects on water resources would be minimized,” the Forest Service said.

Allow pipeline construction to remove vegetation and use heavy equipment within the 125-foot right-of-way, with “minor adverse effects of vegetation removal, erosion and sedimentation.”

Set guidelines for soil to be temporarily disturbed during construction, then restored and maintained afterward. “Long-term impacts would be associated with post-construction restoration and operation and would be minor in intensity,” the Forest Service said.

In all, the Forest Service’s amended environmental impact statement recommends 11 revisions of its plan to accommodate pipeline construction.

A 45-day comment period on the amended statement began Friday. After that, the Forest Service will publish a final version of the environmental impact statement.

Manchin’s Mountain Valley Pipeline provision

fails in Senate vote

CHUCK VIPPERMAN/ December 22, 2022/ Star Tribune

A West Virginia Senator has struck out for a second time in his effort to fast track a gas pipeline that would run through a portion of Southside Virginia. 

The U.S. Senate last weekend rejected Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) latest attempt to remove legal and regulatory hurdles to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. It well fell short of the 60 votes needed to be included in a defense authorization bill. 

The provision was part of a larger effort to streamline federal permitting for energy projects in general, but it would have specifically fast-tracked MVP.  It would also have moved future litigation and challenges to the pipeline away from the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Fourth Circuit has twice stripped all federal permits from the pipeline, putting it about four years behind schedule. 

Manchin says the latest defeat will not impact his support of broad permitting reform for other projects. “Permitting reform and the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are essential to ensuring lasting American security and independence,” Manchin said in a statement after the Senate vote.

Virginia Senators John Warner and Tim Kaine, both fellow Democrats, opposed the idea.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Kaine was worried about the precedent this could have set. “Never in the history of this body has Congress gone into the middle of a case, and because a corporation was not happy with the rulings of the court, stripped the case away from that court and give it to another court,” he said. “If you lose a case, you appeal. You don’t rewrite the federal jurisdictional code to say this court can no longer hear the case in the middle of the case. If we go down this path on this project, I can see it opening a door we will not want to open—a door that can even lead to corruption.”

In September, Manchin removed a similar measure from a must-pass spending bill after strong Democratic opposition.  Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) promised Manchin a vote on the MVP issue, in exchange for Manchin’s support of the Inflation Reduction Act, which narrowly passed the Senate.

The 300-mile long pipeline would terminate at the TransCo Compressor station near Chatham. The estimated cost has now eclipsed six billion dollars.

In August, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission extended its October 2022 completion deadline for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to October 2026.

Small fish, huge news!

Biologists at White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery in West Virginia recently released hatchery-raised candy darters into the wild for the first time ever!

This conservation milestone was reached thanks to partners as well as the dedicated hatchery staff trialing new methods for the care of this vibrant (and rare) fish.

More on the conservation efforts to help the festive-looking candy darter HERE

Photo: Courtesy of Joel Sartore/Photo Ark

RECAP: 2022 was a busy year for the Greenbrier River

Watershed Board members and volunteers

* April - We held our annual Make-It-Shine event and picked up about 500 lbs of trash at the Fort Spring boat launch. Later in the month, Board member Autumn Crowe and coordinator Louanne Fatora distributed watershed material at the Earth Day celebration and toured the newly remodeled water treatment plant at the Town of Marlinton.

* May - We were present at the regional watershed meeting at Little Beaver State Park and also hosted "Walk for Appalachia's Future" and showed the movie, "Hard Road of Hope"

* June - found us at the Red Nose Run in Ronceverte with a table of watershed information. Later that month, two interpretive signs were installed at the Ronceverte and Fort Spring boat launches.

* July - Board members discussed our mussel project at the White Sulphur Springs fish hatchery and also attended a watershed event at the Sweet Springs Resort.

* September - We attended the Freshwater Folk Festival and discussed watershed issues and had activities for kids to engage with.

* October - For the first time ever, we hosted a table at TOOT in Lewisburg selling cookies and warm apple cider for fund raising. We had watershed creatures scratch art and educational activities for kids about recycling. Lots of people stopped by to pick up our brochures and discuss watershed issues.

All through the year we were also busy holding our monthly meetings and planning future activities. We have been partnering with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, WV DEP Save Our Streams, Mountain Resource Conservation & Development, USF&WS Fish Hatchery as well as other conservation groups on many different projects!

We hope you stay tuned as we are looking forward to another busy year in 2023.

Some of the projects in the planning stages:

* Annual Spring Make-It-Shine

* A spring time watershed celebration in conjunction with a Rain

Barrel Workshop and education event.

* "Trash Your Kayak" river clean up float event

* Watershed Assessment of water quality

* Mussel restoration project

* Local event attendance

We thank you for your continued support!

FERC Monthly Virtual Open Meeting

January 19, 2023 @ 10:00 AM

Virtual Open Meeting

Commission meeting held in Commission Meeting Room (Room 2C) at FERC Headquarters, 888 First St. N.E., Washington, D.C. 20426

A  free live webcast is available for this meeting from 10:00 am - 11:00 am. All webcasts are archived for 3 months. Full info HERE      


Make your time count by volunteering with your favorite non-profit to do any number of things from helping with river cleanups, to monitoring rivers and creeks, to making phone calls or licking envelopes. You make a difference.

Follow these pages 

WV Rivers ~ WV Rivers is the statewide voice for water-based recreation and clean, drinkable, swim-able, and fishable rivers and streams-from the headwaters to wherever water flows in West Virginia. 

Appalachian Voices ~ The Appalachian Voice has covered environmental, outdoor and cultural news in the Appalachian mountains since 1996. We provide thorough and well-researched journalistic news coverage to fit a niche not often covered by standard news media.

New River Conservancy ~ Protecting the water, woodlands and wildlife of the New River Watershed. River Clean Ups

Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance ~ Protecting the heritage, resources and economy of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge region.

WV Environmental Council ~ Facilitate communication and cooperation among citizens in promoting environmental protection in West Virginia, to assist in organizing grass roots groups, to facilitate interaction among established environmental organizations, and to correspond with all appropriate local, state, and federal agencies involved in the management of West Virginia's environment. 

Wild Virginia ~ Along with our partners, alliances, and citizens like you, we press on in the fight against fracked gas pipelines in our region. The Mountain Valley Pipeline poses a great risk to our forests and surrounding communities. We are also working to improve habitat connectivity for wildlife throughout Virginia and to ensure that all of our waterways are fully protected in accordance with the law.

Stop the Money Pipeline ~ If we can stop the flow of money, we can stop the flow of oil. In early 2020, thirty-two organizations came together to form the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition. We stand on the shoulders of years of movement work pressuring financial institutions to act on climate.

If you appreciate the work we are doing, please consider a donation today.