The Nature Conservancy is a private, non-profit conservation organization. Its mission is to preserve plants, animals, and natural communities by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. The Conservancy relies upon scientific information to determine what rare plant and animal populations and ecosystems are the highest conservation priorities, how to conserve lands supporting these features, and how to restore natural areas that have been damaged by human activity. It often protects natural areas by buying land. It also achieves its mission by cooperatively working with private landowners, corporations, and government agencies.
Founded in 1951 by a group of scientists concerned about the loss of natural areas, the Conservancy currently has chapters in every state. The West Virginia Chapter was founded in 1963 by volunteers, many of whom were associated with West Virginia University. By 1999, the Nature Conservancy had grown to more than one million members, including more than 4,000 in West Virginia and had protected more than 11 million acres in the United States and Canada, including more than 40,000 acres in West Virginia. It has worked with partner organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Asia to preserve 55 million acres internationally.
Nationwide, the Nature Conservancy owns 1,600 preserves, the largest private system of nature sanctuaries in the world. The Conservancy manages 20 West Virginia preserves, ranging in size from 1.5 acres to more than 2,000 acres. These include Cranesville Swamp, Greenland Gap, Ice Mountain, Brush Creek, Slaty Mountain, Panther Knob, and Pike Knob. The Conservancy has also helped government agencies acquire many natural areas, including Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Cathedral State Park, Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, the New River Gorge National River, the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area.
This Article was written by Rodney Bartgis
Last Revised on October 21, 2010