(Pictured above: Ted Armbrecht, WVLT Board of Directors; Brent Bailey, WVLT Executive Director; Ashton Berdine, WVLT Lands Program Manager; Larry Harris, WVLT Board of Directors)
Morgantown, WV – Monday, December 10 at the Courtyard by Marriott, Governor Jim Justice announced more than a dozen grants awarded to recipients in Northern West Virginia. These included two Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Grants, six Recycling Assistance Grants, and 11 Recreational Trails Program Grants.
“These grants are essential as we continue to grow West Virginia and provide programs that help our communities and citizens,” Gov. Justice said. “The multiplier effect on our return is at least eight times and many times it is more. As we move our state forward, and we are, the impact to our economy is substantial.”
The winter storm that affected Southern West Virginia prevented the Governor from attending the press conference. Bray Carey, Special Assistant to the Governor, attended on his behalf. Ed Maguire of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, which administers the AML program, announced the awards.
The West Virginia Land Trust was awarded a $400,000 AML grant to contribute towards the purchase and restoration of approximately 900 acres in Tucker County that include highly popular recreational trails that have become a regional destination for hiking and mountain biking. Upon purchase, the property will be called Yellow Creek Preserve, named after a tributary of the Blackwater River that flows through the property. The property also includes Moon Rocks, a rock formation that is a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers.
“This group has already been fundraising and invested some of their own money into this campaign to purchase the property,” said Ed Maguire, Director of the office of the Environmental Advocate for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. “That impressed us on the selection committee because this group put a lot of their own skin in the game,” Maguire said.
During the award presentation, Maguire recalled hiking the property and indicated that the property is a cornerstone for the recreation in the Canaan Valley area, which depends on tourism as an important part of its economy.
“This is an important piece of property that draws people to nearby communities and that we intend to make available to the public for recreation,” said Brent Bailey, West Virginia Land Trust Executive Director.
According to the land trust, the property is threatened by development, so they stepped in to see it protected.
“In recent years, parts of the property were being sold parcel by parcel into private ownership and that threatened public access,” Bailey said.
At the award ceremony, Maguire indicated that although the property sits in an area with abandoned mine lands, it still has significant recreational and conservation values. The property borders nearly 20,000 acres of other public lands that include the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area.
“It not only has tremendous recreation potential, it also includes unique upland and wetland habitats that create the iconic landscapes that draw people to the Canaan Valley area,” Bailey said.
To learn more about the project, visit www.BuyTheMoonWV.org or call (304) 413-0945.