World Wetlands Day ~ February 2, 2022
What is World Wetlands Day?
World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February to raise awareness about wetlands. This day also marks the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, which was adopted as an international treaty in 1971.

A United Nations International Day
This year’s celebration of World Wetlands Day in 2022 is especially significant — as on 30 August 2021 the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 75/317 that established 2 February as World Wetlands Day.

Why World Wetlands Day?
Nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests. Yet, wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, world economies and more.
It is urgent that we raise national and global awareness about wetlands in order to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them.
World Wetlands Day is the ideal time to increase people’s understanding of these critically important ecosystems.

Theme World Wetlands Day 2022
Wetlands Action for People and Nature is the theme in 2022 highlighting the importance of actions to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for humans and planetary health.

For more information please visit World Wetlands Day
MVP Public Notice:
Roanoke Times, January 29, 2022

Notice is hereby given that Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC has requested authorization from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to install a natural gas pipeline, with associated temporary construction access bridges, beneath the beds of eight (8) streams and/or rivers with drainages greater than 5 square miles, which are considered to be State-owned subaqueous bottomlands of the Commonwealth along the designed project corridor in Giles, Roanoke, Montgomery, Franklin and Pittsylvania Counties for the Mountain Valley Project.

Send comments/inquiries within 15 days (by February 18, 2022)

Marine Resources Commission
Habitat Management Division
380 Fenwick Road, Bldg 96
Hampton, VA 23651 OR

Original notice found HERE
Construction on Mountain Valley Pipeline is seen from the Honeysuckle Road near the top of Poor Mountain in Roanoke County. The Roanoke Times | File 2021
Mountain Valley Pipeline loses permit to cross through Jefferson National Forest
January 25, 2022| Lawrence Hammack |Roanoke Times

For the second time, a federal appeals court has thrown out government approvals for a natural gas pipeline to pass through the Jefferson National Forest.

A written decision Tuesday from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals marked the latest of many setbacks for the Mountain Valley Pipeline since construction began in 2018.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management failed to properly predict — and to prevent — erosion and sedimentation caused by building the massive infrastructure project, a three-judge panel for the court found.

Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote in the unanimous decision that the agencies “erroneously failed to account for real-world data suggesting increased sedimentation along the pipeline route.”
The ruling sends the permit back to the Forest Service and BLM for reconsideration. The first time the court did that, in July 2018, it took about two years for the agencies to approve a second permit — which now has also been found lacking by the Fourth Circuit.

In its 29-page opinion, the court also ruled that the Forest Service failed to comply with its 2012 Planning Rule and that it prematurely authorized the crossings of some streams in the national forest.

“Again the courts have served as a backstop for agencies that failed to protect the public and our resources from this dangerous and destructive project,” David Sligh of Wild Virginia, one of the environmental groups that challenged the permit, said in a statement.

“The Forest Service and BLM have now been shown to have ignored important scientific information and bypassed their own rules for the second time, all to allow a private corporation to use and abuse the public resources they are supposed to protect and preserve for us all.”
Efforts to reach the Forest Service were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Although much of the 303-mile pipeline has been completed, it has not been allowed to pass through a 3.5-mile section of the Jefferson National Forest in Giles and Montgomery counties.
Mountain Valley also lacks a final permit to cross the remaining streams and wetlands in its path from northern West Virginia, through the New River and Roanoke valleys, to connect with an existing pipeline near the North Carolina line.

Other approvals by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are also being challenged in court by opponents of the deeply controversial project.

Continued HERE
The West Virginia Stream Partners Program
Awards Grants for 2022

West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and the Soil Conservation Agency are proud to announce the 2022 WV Stream Partners grant awards. The grants are given to watershed associations interested in working with the agencies to create partnerships and develop stream improvement projects to protect and restore their local streams and rivers. This year 19 organizations received funds up to $5,000.

“The WV Stream Partners Program continues to be a success because of the volunteers and watershed association staff who work tirelessly for clean water and to enhance recreational opportunities for our state.” says Jennifer Pauer, Stream Partners Program coordinator. This year’s grants will support tree plantings, litter awareness campaigns, wetland restoration, stream access, water trails and much more. Many watershed associations use these funds to match larger projects such as the planning and monitoring of acid mine drainage treatment projects and natural stream channel design. 

In addition to a stream restoration project, the watershed associations use these funds to educate the public on the importance of watershed restoration and protection. Evidence of their work can be found across the state along our streams and rivers. To see what these groups are up to, find a watershed organization near you and get involved!

For the list of grants were approved by the Stream Partners Program Executive Committee for the 2022 Stream Partners grant year please visit HERE

Mon Forest Towns Partnership Adopts
Five-Year Strategic Plan for Sustainable
Recreation and Economic Growth

Release Date: Jan 10, 2022

Eighteen months after formally establishing the Mon Forest Towns partnership, an initiative involving West Virginia University, USDA Rural Development, Monongahela National Forest, the Woodlands Development Group, and ten gateway communities, momentum continues to grow with a new five-year strategic plan.

The formal strategic plan was developed with participation from all the partners and will focus the towns on seven goals to help guide them individually and collectively toward sustainable recreation and economic growth:

  • Goal 1: Improve community health and wellness through promotion of outdoor recreation activities and infrastructure improvement.
  • Goal 2: Develop an outdoor recreation entrepreneurial culture by supporting the creation and growth of local recreation and tourism-based businesses.
  • Goal 3: Promote the uniqueness of the Mon Forest Towns and recreation opportunities in the region through collaborative regional marketing.
  • Goal 4: Develop world-class trails and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Mon Forest Towns region.
  • Goal 5: Increase employment opportunities in recreation-related fields to build a year-round recreation economy.
  • Goal 6: Create a downtown experience that recreationists would enjoy.
  • Goal 7: Develop a Sustainable Partnership Framework

The partnership has recently hired a grants coordinator and two new AmeriCorps members have joined the team through a partnership with the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area. These positions will help increase capacity to leverage partnerships and secure funding through grants to build a sustainable economy around outdoor recreation while promoting healthy lifestyles and creating economic opportunities for residents.

Other recent achievements of the partnership include the grand opening of the Mower Basin Trail System as a part of the Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center; the installation of signs, wayfinding, and kiosks identifying points of interests in each of the ten Mon Forest Towns; the establishment of formal marketing and grant committees; and the selection of a grant-funded marketing agency to assist in further strategic planning and marketing.

Mountain biking continues to be a major focus for the partnership, especially with the recent establishment of the Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center. There are several trail systems that are designed, ready to be built or planned for future that will be added to the Ride Center at the following locations: Green Bank Observatory, Monday Lick Trails, Watoga State Park, and additional trails at the Mower Basin Trail System and Snowshoe Mountain.

With funding from the Benedum Foundation and WVU, a team is working to gather information and gauge attitudes on recreation economic development in the Monongahela National Forest area. They have developed a survey to provide data about regional collaboration on the recreation economy from residents who live in one of the eight counties (Grant, Tucker, Randolph, Greenbrier, Webster, Nicholas, Pendleton, and Pocahontas) in the Mon Forest Towns partnership. Adult residents can access the survey on the WVU website. The data gathered will help the team understand opinions on recreation economic development and will be used to strengthen the link between communities and public/private sectors in promoting sustainable community development around recreation.

Learn all about the Mon Forest towns partnership and recreational opportunities. Be sure to check out the most recent newsletter for all the latest happenings and follow them on Facebook.

West Virginia Legislature

From Delegate Evan Hansen

The House Energy Committee took some important steps this week toward diversifying West Virginia's energy mix.

We passed HB 4098 to help geothermal gain a foothold in West Virginia. The bill clarifies that surface owners own the underground heat and sets up a regulatory program for geothermal permitting.

We also passed HR 6 with the goal of increasing hydropower production at the Summersville Dam. Interestingly, the resolution states that Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) could be reestablished and utilized in West Virginia in support of renewable energy. Recall that the first bill passed by the Republicans when they took control of the legislature in 2015 was to abolish RECs, setting back the development of renewable energy in the state.

Local resident secures affordable solar panels

January 28, 2022 | Autumn Crowe | Mountain Messenger

As an environmental scientist, I know that burning fossil fuels for electricity is harming our environment. In West Virginia, we are already seeing the effects that climate scientists warned us about decades ago, flooding, droughts, and invasive species. Climate change is a global problem, so what can one person do about it? With the help of Bethlehem Farm, WV Solar United Neighbors, and Solar Holler, I did something about it. I ditched fossil fuels and went solar!

I never knew it could be so easy. A few years ago, I invested in a split-level, brick ranch style house in Lewisburg. The location, east-west facing on a hilltop with no large trees shading the roof, was perfect for solar panels. A year after I bought the house, I learned that Solar United Neighbors was forming a solar co-op for the tri-county area so I signed up to learn more.

A co-op made going solar more affordable by joining with other neighbors interested in solar to get a group discount. WV SUN offered support throughout the competitive bidding process to select an installer. WV has several qualified solar installers who bid on the project. The co-op selected Solar Holler whose staff was very professional and easy to work with, even when I found out I had to replace the roof before the panels could go on. A new roof made the cost go up and I had to figure out if I could afford it. That’s where Bethlehem Farm came in. 

Bethlehem Farm’s Green Neighbors program was instrumental in paying for the whole project. Their no interest loan and payment plan for median income levels made going solar a no-brainer. My loan payment is less than my electricity bill. My average daily energy usage over the summer is around 20 kWh. With 36 panels on my roof, I am producing around 55 kWh of electricity on a sunny day. That excess power goes back to the grid to help offset my electricity use during the cold, dark, winter months. I encourage anyone considering going solar to reach out to Bethlehem Farm to see if the Green Neighbors program is the right fit for you.

Find out more details at:
Friday, February 11, 2022 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

ONLINE meeting via Zoom—Links will be furnished to those who RSVP

To register, go to:

Nature’s Best Hope—
Dr. Douglas Tallamy
TA Baker Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Delaware
Recent headlines about global insect declines and three billion fewer birds in North America are a bleak reality check about how ineffective our current landscape designs have been at sustaining the plants and animals that sustain us. To create landscapes that enhance local ecosystems rather than degrade them, we must add the native plant communities that sustain food webs, sequester carbon, maintain diverse native bee communities, and manage our watersheds. If we do this in half of the area now in lawn, we can create Homegrown National Park, a 20-million-acre network of viable habitats that will provide vital corridors connecting the few natural areas that remain. This approach to conservation empowers everyone to play a significant role in the future of the natural world.

When invasive species management decisions collide with reality—
Dr. Bernd Blossey
Professor, Natural Resources and the Environment, Cornell University
Climate change and invasive species are considered major contributors to biodiversity declines around the globe. But do societies have the right data and decision-making processes in place to tackle the complex problems to reverse these declines? Are the management approaches we typically prescribe able to make a difference? Are we doing more harm than good when we focus on introduced species - and how would we know? Dr. Blossey will review the evidence that guides decision making in invasive plant species management and the problems associated with making the (wrong) assumptions.

The Nature of Oaks—
Dr. Douglas Tallamy
TA Baker Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Delaware
Once we have decided to restore the ecological integrity of our human-dominated landscapes, we need to decide what plants to add to our properties. Oaks are superior landscape trees throughout most of the U.S. because of their many ecological and aesthetic attributes. Using activity on the oaks in his yard each month of the year as examples, Dr. Tallamy will compare oak species to other popular shade trees in terms of their ability to support animal diversity, protect watersheds, and sequester carbon dioxide. Learning that oaks provide life support to thousands of species may motivate us to return more of these essential trees to our built landscapes.
Saturday, February 12th from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

Project WET and Project Learning Tree are partnering to offer a Joint Climate Workshop for educators at the DEP Headquarters in Charleston. Both formal and informal educators are invited to attend this free workshop, but registration is required.

For more information, visit HERE
The Great Greenbrier River Race

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Registration is now OPEN for the 35th Annual Great Greenbrier River Race!! Come race with us on Saturday, April 30th, 2022!

FERC Monthly Virtual Open Meeting
February 17, 2022
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 

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