The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy is an activist environmental group which works to preserve forests, fragile ecosystems, and waters in the state. In several campaigns, the 1,500-member organization has helped to protect some of the state’s most ecologically sensitive and pristine wilderness areas.
Formed in the mid-1960s and incorporated in 1967, the group fought to stop proposed roads through the Cranberry backcountry and the eastern highlands. Since then, the Conservancy has taken on other major campaigns. Beginning in 1970, the Conservancy worked with other groups to wage a successful 12-year campaign to set aside 47,800 acres in the Cranberry backcountry and Laurel Fork as federal wilderness areas. The Conservancy also worked to create the 10,215-acre Dolly Sods and 20,000-acre Otter Creek National Wilderness Areas as part of the 1975 Eastern Wilderness Act. After a decades-long battle, the Conservancy helped to stop the Davis Power Plant project, which would have flooded more than 7,000 acres of wetlands in the Canaan Valley.
In recent years, the Highlands Conservancy has joined other state and national environmental groups to address mining issues, particularly mountaintop removal and acid mine drainage, and management of public lands, including timber sales in national forests. The Conservancy is also pushing legislation to regulate logging practices, and to establish the Blackwater Canyon as a national park.
The nonprofit group supports itself through membership dues and the sale of publications. Throughout the year, the Conservancy sponsors outdoor programs—hikes, canoe trips, camping, and bike trips—and public works projects such as trail maintenance in the Monongahela National Forest.
Last Revised on November 12, 2010