Comment on Mountain Valley Pipeline stream crossing permit by Friday, November 19

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is, once again, attempting to construct their pipeline through headwater streams, under rivers and across wetlands.

Watch a video on the risks posed to our streams by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. 

You may remember that MVP’s first attempt at a stream crossing permit from the Army Corps of Engineers was vacated by a federal court in 2019. It was determined that the pipeline could not meet the conditions of the general permit, the Nationwide 12. 

In the spring pf 2021, the Mountain Valley Pipeline changed their Army Corps of Engineers permit strategy. Instead of applying for one blanket permit for all the stream crossings, they are applying for a more site-specific, individual permit. If approved, it will allow the Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross 600 waterbodies. Including some of the biggest rivers, like the Gauley, steepest terrain and most sensitive habitats.

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Wild Virginia releases summary of comments
on state permit for MVP

October 31, 2021| Staff | Augusta Free Press

Wild Virginia has submitted a report to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and State Water Control Board summarizing thousands of public comments addressing the proposal by Mountain Valley Pipeline to dig and blast through streams and wetlands across western Virginia.
The board will consider the public’s oral and written testimony in making a decision on a water permit for MVP in December.

The permit decision will fulfill the state’s responsibilities under Virginia law and the federal Clean Water Act. A denial by the board would serve as a veto of a related permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers covering the same activities.

Wild Virginia undertook this task because the DEQ has decided not to provide such a summary to the board, as the Department has traditionally done.

Selected findings from the Summary report include:
  • Of 2,290 comments reviewed, 2,069 (90 percent) oppose the project.
  • Only a small number of comments reviewed specifically address the central legal question the board must answer; whether the board can ensure water quality standards will not be violated.
  • Almost all comments that specifically address issues that must govern the board’s decision oppose approval. 

According to Jacqueline Goodrum, Conservation Policy Associate at Wild Virginia: “We presented all of the information and documents we could gather, whether for or against project approval, and did so in a straightforward manner. We have also provided the board members (and the public) with links in the document so they have easy access to each and every comment we could acquire, and can form their own conclusions.”

“We prepared this document because we respect the fact that the Board members donate their time and efforts for this important work and, as we wrote in the report, we see ourselves as partners with all who are working to protect our waters,” stated David Sligh, Wild Virginia’s Conservation Director.

“We want the facts known as widely and clearly as possible, because we are confident that if the evidence is thoroughly and fairly reviewed issuance of this permit can never be supported. We and thousands of other Virginians have and will continue to work hard to see that the record is complete and that the truth is known. The board has information that was not available to it in 2017 and that must help determine the outcome now. MVP has caused much destruction and pain to local residents and water users so far and these proposals would be a major blow to our precious resources and our communities. Further damage must not be allowed.”

This story has been edited for length. Full story HERE
Happy National Take a Hike Day!

National Take a Hike Day celebrates the ease of access and the beauty of the U.S. trail system.

Congress authorized the completion of major scenic and historical trails with the National Trails System Act of 1968. The Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail are completed and available along their full length. Six other National Scenic Trails and all of the National Historic Trails still linger unfinished, but completed portions exist all along their lengths.

So whether you climb a mountain, explore waterfalls, or just meander along the river that runs through your city, take time to go explore the trails near you.

Fun facts about National Take a Hike Day!
  • More than 60,000 miles of trails make up the National Trails System. (Including 78 miles of the Greenbrier River Trail. Editor)
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1965, established the program that has doubled the number of trails in America.
  • In 2013 alone, 34 million hikers took to the trails.

After your hike, use #NationalTakeAHikeDay to tag your pictures on social media.
Photo: Wendy Holdren
Meadow River Trail Update: Greenbrier County Commission Keeps Infrastructure Projects Moving

November 12, 2021| Bobby Bordelon |WV Daily News

The Greenbrier County Commission kept several infrastructure projects moving forward during the Tuesday, Nov. 9 meeting.

This includes the Meadow River Rail Trail – Coordinator Matt Ford updated the commission on the three phases of the ongoing project:

“Overall update – Phase one, the Russellville bridge replacement in Fayette County, DOH is waiting on approximately $280,000 from Fayette County. It will be released once the FEMA deadline extensions are approved for Fayette County. Discussions with FEMA are very favorable for both Fayette and Greenbrier County for those extensions to get approved.”

“Phase two – [these are repairs] in Fayette and Greenbrier counties, sections of trail that were completed prior to the 2016 flood. In Fayette County, the design is complete and that project is going to bid now. In Greenbrier County, we bid the project a few weeks ago. … We do have the apparent low bidder in Chapman Technical Group … and we have been in communication with them. … We have to make a decision [finalizing the contractor] by Dec. 8, so about a week prior, … we need the commission to discuss and make a decision. … Chapman Technical Group will make a formal presentation.” A $37,000 grant match was approved by the commission from Arts and Recreation funds for Phase II."

"Phase III – [This] is the last 6.4-mile section that was purchased in 2018. We received an AML pilot program grant to design and construct that section of trail. That will get the trail from Laurel Creek Bridge all the way to Rainelle and make the [approximately] 24 miles [of the trail continuous and] complete. We prepared a request for qualifications that have been commissioned to approve so that we can select the architects, engineers.” The request for qualifications was approved by the commission.

Ford also noted that Sen. Stephen Baldwin requested $75,000 per project from the legislature and that regular meetings with the Department of Highways have begun. In addition, Ford had several meetings with West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby to get the trail on the tourism map.
This would connect the trail continuously for approximately 24 miles.

This story has been edited for length. Full story HERE
Welcome our new Coordinator, Louanne Fatora
Louanne Fatora of Frankford WV, has joined our team of dedicated professionals as the new Coordinator of the Greenbrier River Watershed Association. Louanne grew up in Doddridge County and earned a degree from Fairmont State University in Veterinary Technology, with additional education in business and accounting through Bluefield State College. She lived in the Greenbrier Valley in the 1980's then moved to the mountains of Colorado. For the past 25 years she and her husband Tom returned to their cabin on the Greenbrier River in Pocahontas County every summer, bringing their three children so they could become acquainted with the watershed they loved. They have recently resettled back in Greenbrier County. 

Louanne has worked in the non-profit mental health field and volunteered for environmental non-profits over the years by budgeting, grant writing and community collaboration. She has been a board member of the Watoga State Park Foundation for 4 years and was instrumental in the recent Dark Sky certification of almost 20,000 acres encompassing Watoga State Park, Cal Price State Forest and Droop Mountain Battlefield, by the International Dark Sky Association.

Louanne says, "I previously left West Virginia, but I didn't leave it behind. I carried my culture with me wherever I went and made a commitment to honor my appalachian heritage by maintaining my ties to the people, the land and water. I'm looking forward to being of service to the Greenbrier River Watershed Association and so very happy to be home again"

Alderson, Lewisburg, Ronceverte, White Sulphur, & more receive hazard mitigation grant funds totaling $41.5M

November 3, 2021| Staff |Mountain Messenger

Gov. Justice held a pair of ceremonies on Tuesday, Nov. 2 to announce over $41.5 million in federal grant funding for several hazard mitigation projects to help protect communities across West Virginia from future disasters.

“Some of our great communities caught a real cannonball to the stomach with the 2016 flood, but we’ve got these federal dollars that are going to help us in a big way,” Gov. Justice said. “It doesn’t fix everything that happened. But it makes things better so that we’re more prepared in the future.
So to all the communities getting this money: go and do great stuff with it, let’s all keep pulling the rope together.”

The funds are being made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Mitigation Program (CDBG-MIT). The program helps communities impacted by recent natural disasters carry out strategic and high-impact activities to mitigate disaster risks and reduce future losses.

The grants announced at events in Marlinton and Alderson make up a portion of the total $65.8 million in CDBG-MIT funds for 18 projects that have been recommended by the West Virginia Development Office’s Community Advancement and Development Division, which manages the state’s allotment of CDBG funds, for Phase 1 of the state’s CDBG-MIT program.

Recommended applications include nine stormwater projects, two water treatment plant projects, two dam projects, one sanitary sewer line relocation project, and four planning projects. Over $40 million of the total recommended will fund projects that primarily serve low-to-moderate income individuals.

List of individual grants HERE

Autumn sits in the cockpit with Southwings volunteer pilot Scott Simonton.
Scars from the Mountain Valley Pipeline


November 9, 2021| Autumn Crowe|West Virginia Rivers

I watched the pilot turning knobs and pressing buttons then the engine whirred to life. With that sound, a flood of memories came back when I used to fly in bush planes to assist remote Alaskan villages with environmental issues. Except this time, I wasn’t going to be flying through the rugged Alaskan mountains. I was in my home state of West Virginia and I would be flying to see the pipeline scars the Mountain Valley Pipeline carved out of West Virginia’s wild and wonderful mountains and valleys.

Based out of North Carolina, a non-profit called Southwings has been working with volunteer pilots to fly for environmental causes. Our pilot, Scott Simonton who’s based out of Sissonville, has mostly flown folks over mountaintop removal sites, but over the last few years, he’s been flying the paths of pipelines.

As we rumble down the runway, my heart beats with anticipation as the plane picks up enough speed and the wheels lift off the ground to get that feeling of floating, airborne!

I glance back at Jenny Harnish, our videographer who films and edits our pipeline video series, smiles plastered on our faces. We look down as our familiar little town of Lewisburg passes by underneath our wings and we head toward the Greenbrier River Valley. Our first waypoint is near Pence Springs, where MVP proposes to drill under the Greenbrier River. But the river valley is still fogged in so we continue north.

Out of the fog appears a large swath denuded of trees going straight up the mountainside. Little trucks and heavy equipment can be seen moving dirt around below. The scar continues along the ridgeline until it cuts down into the valley and stream below.

The pilot slows the plane and does a few circles so Jenny can point her video camera out the window to attempt to capture the rugged terrain and steepness of the slopes. Seeing the construction from the air brings a different perspective. The pipeline scar continues along ridgetops as far as the eye can see in either direction dropping down into the valley and then appearing again on the next ridge.

Seeing the land from a plane really conveys the incredible impact humans have on the landscape. When flying in Alaska, there were great distances where I couldn’t see any human impact, so much of the landscape was wild and untouched. But flying over this region of WV, I was hard-pressed to find a spot that didn’t have an imprint of Man. At one point near Quinwood, we were seeing pipeline construction, coal mining, timbering and windmills all in the same viewshed.

The most rugged landscape we encountered was our last waypoint before returning back, the Gauley River. This rugged river valley was the most undeveloped area we’d seen on the flight. Yet carving through the middle of this beauty was the MVP scar. We circled back to the direction we had come to try to capture the Greenbrier after the fog had burned off. I don’t know what was more heartbreaking, seeing the pipeline encroach on our majestic rivers, or thinking about the homes whose owners were forced to have this pipeline for a neighbor.

In the air, the magnitude of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the fragility of our wild places really became clear. Headwater steams that feed rivers like the Gauley can be totally obliterated by reckless construction or even failed pollution prevention measures.

In the latest video in our Mountain Valley Pipeline series, we talk about what’s at stake if something goes wrong during construction. Is it a risk we’re willing to take?

If you think the Mountain Valley Pipeline is a bad idea – be sure to submit comments to the Army Corps of Engineers on the pipeline’s stream crossing permit. Comments will be accepted through November 19. 

Green Infrastructure Workshop
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Time: 6:30 PM 8:00 PM
Location: Southern Conservation District Office, 475 Ragland Rd, Beckley, WV 25801
Time: Food will be served at 6:30 for those participating in person.
The session itself (also available live online) will run from 7:00-8:00pm.

The New River Clean Water Alliance will host an Introduction to Green Infrastructure workshop outlining the basic elements and need for Green Infrastructure as stormwater management in the area. All contractors, urban planners, engineers, interested citizens, watershed groups and decision makers looking to expand their stormwater planning options are invited to attend.

A comprehensive Green Infrastructure certification program will also be offered in January and February online. For more information contact Dennis Burns, dburns@wvca.us 304-957-2989


National Green Infrastructure Certification Training
January 11- February 10, 2022
Tuesday & Thursday mornings
8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Online via ZOOM
Application & Class Fees $185
Testing & Certification Fees $150

About Green Infrastructure
Stormwater management practices that protect, restore, or mimic the natural water cycle are  referred to as green infrastructure (GI). It is a collection of engineered systems that utilize natural or “green” approaches to manage stormwater locally. Stormwater is stored temporarily at or near where it falls to be used by trees and vegetation, stored and used later for irrigation, or    allowed to soak into the ground through layers of soil, which remove pollutants from the stormwater through natural processes.

About the program
The National Green Infrastructure Certification Program (NGICP) provides the base-level skill set needed for entry-level workers to properly construct, inspect and maintain green stormwater infrastructure (GI). Designed to meet international best practice standards, NGICP is a tool that can be used to meet a wide range of needs, including professional development for existing GI professionals and as part of a larger workforce development to provide candidates with the technical skills necessary to enter the green workforce and earn a livable wage.

** Financial assistance may be available for qualifying individuals.
Contact Dennis Burns dburns@wvca.us **
Register at:

Urge Senator Manchin to Take the Lead on Climate Action
Let Senator Manchin know that West Virginians want him to bring home a strong budget bill that invests in our state. The Build Back Better plan would send as much as $18 billion of badly-needed investments into West Virginia in the next decade – fixing our roads, removing lead pipes and getting us ready to compete in the next century. The clean energy provisions in the Build Back Better plan are essential to West Virginia as our nation and world move towards clean energy. Investments like the Clean Electricity Performance Program would provide West Virginians with good jobs, lower electricity costs and better health.

Send Senator Manchin an email message HERE
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FERC Monthly Virtual Open Meeting
November 18, 2021
Virtual Open Meeting (Free Webcast available best viewed using Microsoft Edge)
Commission meeting held in Commission Meeting Room (Room 2C) at FERC Headquarters, 888 First St. N.E., Washington, D.C. 20426
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 

Volunteer
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. 
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.
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