Gallipolis Island, situated along the shoreline of Gallipolis, OH, across from Mason County, W.Va., and Upper Twin Island, located near Wheeling, W.Va. are among a total of 40 islands that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says remain in the Upper Ohio River Basin. This area stretches approximately 400 river miles and includes four states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky).
Twenty-one of these islands are part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 1990, as West Virginia’s first national refuge. The refuge consists of 3,300 acres of valuable fish and wildlife habitat – including islands, as well as wetlands, back channels, and underwater habitat.
Although the islands acquired by WVLT will not immediately become part of the refuge system, they will remain public and be restored in a way that provides similar benefits.
Two islands in the Ohio River were donated to the West Virginia Land Trust and will be protected as essential habitat for years to come.
The shallow waters of the river can provide quality habitat for freshwater mussels, including endangered species, such as the pink mucket and fanshell. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons and Indiana bats also use islands along the river as habitat.
With much of the islands submerged underwater, WVLT will work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners in upcoming years to stabilize stream banks and restore habitat. In addition to the long-term benefits to fish, wildlife, and other habitats, this land protection effort will also help improve water quality and maintain the ecosystems that offer public recreational opportunities for people in the Ohio River Valley.