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A “Wild Weekend” in West Virginia

October 26, 2007

Charleston, WV – West Virginia has a wild weekend in store to celebrate the major milestones of three different wilderness groups.

The Virginia Highlands Conservancy is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and former Conservancy President David Elkinton believes the biggest lesson learned in the last four decades is that people have to speak up if they want wilderness areas protected. He says West Virginians can be proud of their accomplishments, defending some of the most important wild areas in the eastern United States.

"The protected areas include Dolly Sods, Otter Creek, and ultimately, the Cranberry wilderness. This happened because citizens across the eastern U.S., including those in the West Virginia highlands said, 'Wait a minute! We have wilderness.'"

Elkinton worries that despite big wins for wilderness in the last 40 years, new challenges are on the horizon including energy production clashing with the need to protect sensitive wilderness areas from development.

"How will West Virginia's scenic beauty be protected in the face of increased demand for recreational use, second home development and so forth? It is critical we don't overutilize the very places that people come here to enjoy."

The state has a long history of environmental activism to celebrate this weekend. In addition to the Virginia Highlands Conservancy's big day, the Brooks Bird Club of Wheeling marks its 75th year, and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition celebrates its 20th birthday. Elkinton adds the best way for members of these groups, and the general public, to become involved is to stay in contact with Congress, and federal wildlife officials, asking them to keep West Virginia a place of beauty for everyone.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WV