Pocahontas Commission considers national monument support
Marlinton, WV – During Tuesday’s Pocahontas County Commission meeting, West Virginia Wilderness Coalition representative Mike Costello requested a resolution in support of a proposed national monument, which would include the Cranberry Wilderness, Cranberry Glades, the Falls of Hills Creek, the Tea Creek Backcountry and smaller adjacent areas.
Costello says no private property would be affected.
“Entirely National Forest land, no private land,” he said. “To preserve and promote a unique landscape and a rich cultural heritage on a more national level.”
Costello said the U.S. Forest Service would continue to manage the area and that hunting and fishing would be allowed. The representative said commercial logging would be incompatible, but notes that only three-percent of Pocahontas County log production is from the National Forest lands.
“The most recent Forest Service data has Pocahontas County getting less than three-percent of its logs from the National Forest.”
Commissioner Jamie Walker says he sees no need for a new designation.
“I don’t see any problem with the way it’s been preserved,” he said. “I don’t see how it can get any better, myself. I mean, it’s clean; the trash is picked up; the campsites are cleaned up; the roads are well-maintained. I mean, it’s in excellent condition. All of it – from Williams River plumb to Sharp’s Knob.”
Gil Willis, proprietor of Elk River Touring, says the designation would be good for tourism.
“I’m in the tourism business, myself,” he said. “I started on a very small five-acre piece of property. I’ve grown my business to over 30 employees and tourism is really kind of paying the bills in a lot of ways in the county as far as as tax revenues.”
Costello said significant economic growth was reported in areas where national monuments have been established.
Dr. Robert Must, of Hillsboro, said he chose to remain in Pocahontas County because of its uncommon natural beauty and supports the designation.
Blair Campbell, proprietor of the Pretty Penny Restaurant in Hillsboro, says the designation could protect the long-term quality of life in Pocahontas County.
“Giving it a status that, hopefully, would offer it a little bit more protection, 20-30 years down the road,” she said. “I’ve traveled out of the county a lot. I traveled around the world and we are so lucky to be in our little bubble. It can very easily be popped.”
The commission read letters in support of the proposal from Snowshoe Mountain, Inc.; West Virginia Trout Unlimited; Eight Rivers Council; the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association; Christians For The Mountains; Shavers Fork Coalition Pocahontas County Free Libraries; Hillsboro Library Friends; the Convention and Visitors Bureau; Mountain Valley Properties and Snowshoe COO Frank DeBerry.
Commissioner Martin Saffer says the designation would be an honor.
“This is an honor that would be bestowed on our community,” he said.
” A national recognition, to say, ‘wow, Pocahontas County has something so special here.'”
“This is important to the United States.”
The commission voted 2-1 to approve a resolution in support of the Wilderness Coalition proposal, with Walker voting in opposition. If approved by the federal government, the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument would become the first national monument in West Virginia.
In other business, the county commission:
– approved the purchase of a Chevrolet Tahoe from Mitchell Chevrolet for county 9-1-1 at a cost of $30,252.
– approved a $17,821 bid from Atlantic Plant Services for asbestos removal at East Fork Industrial Park.
– reappointed Ed Riley to the Solid Waste Authority board member.
– reappointed Tom Shipley to the Public Service District board
– appointed Jay McNeel, Wayne Gillespie, Shirley Adams and Dennis Driscoll to the Historic Landmarks Commission.
– apponted Gail Hyer to the Dramas, Fairs and Festivals board.
– appointed Sue Ann Heatherly to the Free Libraries board.
– appointed Jennifer Miller Barlow and Ron Fleming to the Emergency Management Services Authority board.
– approved the employment of Hannah Hollandsworth as deputy circuit court clerk.