Gov. Justice commends The Nature Conservancy land acquisition along Allegheny Front
CHARLESTON, WV — Economic and ecological interests converge in the recent purchase of 1,143 acres along the Allegheny Front in the Dolly Sods and Canaan Valley region by The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia.
“I congratulate The Nature Conservancy on its acquisition of this unique and beautiful territory. I thank the individuals and corporations that partnered with the Conservancy to make this happen,” said Gov. Jim Justice. “Protecting our wild and wonderful landscape is good for nature, good for tourism and good for West Virginia’s economy and quality of life.”
“The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is so pleased to learn of the acquisition of this incredibly important and iconic tract of land by The Nature Conservancy,” said DNR Director Stephen McDaniel. “Located high on the Allegheny Front and within the Canaan Valley and Dolly Sods ecosystem, this 1,147 acre tract is home to a variety of important wildlife species of great conservation value. The property also offers tremendous opportunities for outdoor-associated recreation and enhancing tourism potential for this region of the state.”
The support from the Ann C. and Robert O. Orders Jr. Family Foundation and Dave Montgomery of Maryland was recognized for making the project a success.
The Nature Conservancy of West Virginia described the property as “a keystone in the Dolly Sods landscape.” In addition to supporting the state’s tourism industry, the area plays an essential role in providing drinking water and clean air to the eastern United States.
The Dolly Sods/Canaan Valley region is known for its complex and diverse ecology. The area supports red spruce forests, heath-grass barrens, high elevation Allegheny wetlands, a significant amount of coolwater stream habitats, and caves. Canaan Valley supports the largest wetland complex in West Virginia and the unglaciated Appalachian Mountains. The area Includes some of the largest intact forest blocks between the Adirondacks and Great Smoky mountains. These forest blocks are critical for forest interior nesting birds, maintaining embedded patch habitats, regional connectivity, and functional, resilient forest communities.
The high-quality habitats also support 25 Species of Greatest Conservation Need Butterflies and Moths, 36 species of dragonflies, 23 species of snails and 176 plant species.
Tourists are attracted to the biodiversity and broad vistas. In summer, the high-altitude terrain offers displays of azaleas, mountain laurel, rhododendron and blueberries. In the fall, the forests cover the hills in vibrant autumn colors. Each year, hikers, bikers, bird watchers, photographers and other visitors from in state and out are drawn to the area.
According to a 2017 study produced for the West Virginia Office of Tourism, the Canaan Valley in Tucker County and the Dolly Sods Wilderness in Grant, Randolph and Tucker counties draw $105.5 million in direct spending. The area also supports more than 1,600 jobs.
Butch Antolini, Butch.Antolini@wv.gov