West Virginia Land Trust recently received a $400,000 grant from Gov. Jim Justice’s office.
The statewide conservation organization, with offices in Morgantown, is the recipient of a state grant for protecting West Virginia’s Highlands.
Justice made the announcement Dec. 10, along with more than a dozen other grants to northern West Virginia recipients.
“These grants are essential as we continue to grow West Virginia and provide programs that help our communities and citizens,” 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 West Virginia Land Trust $400,000 grant will go toward the purchase and restoration of about 900 acres in Tucker County, including recreational trails that have become a destination for hiking and mountain biking.
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.”
During the award presentation, Maguire said he hiked on the property and that it 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 was threatened by development.
“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, including 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 buythemoonwv.org or call 304-413-0945.
Find out more about the West Virginia Land Trust at www.wvlandtrust.org.