Pocahontas Couple Donates Almost 900 Acres For Conservation Easement
Cass, WV – The Shay Number 11 left the station at Cass and slowly chugged its way up the mountain stopping about one quarter mile below Wittaker Station. A small group of disembarked from the train to hear about an incredible donation of land by long time Pocahontas County residents George and Mickey Deike.
The Deikes are donating a conservation easement on their 884 acre Shalimar Farm that borders Cass State Park and the Monongahela National Forest. The Nature Conservancy and the West Virginia Agricultural Land Protection Authority will be co-holders of the easement. The donation preserves their farm as an equestrian retreat safe from future development.
Ashton Burdine, private lands manager for The Nature Conservancy, says the donation tells a story.
“It’s a story about biological resources, rare species, streams, caves, the national forest, and it’s a story about the state park,” says Burdine, “but most of all it’s a story about George and Mickey’s passion for the land and their interest in keeping that for future the folks here in Pocahontas County.”
Burdine says they were attracted to the property because of a unique formation – Cass Cave. The cave is home to the federally endangered Indiana Bat and three globally rare invertebrates. Also on the farm is the Leatherbark Run mountain stream that supports a native trout fishery and provides a water source for the town of Cass.
George Deike says he first visited the Cass area as a teenager and enjoyed hiking on the railroad grades. Later, while he and Mickey were living in Illinois, they bought their first 170 acres of land near Cass. Over the years they acquired other nearby farms because of their reputation as land owners who weren’t interested in development. A geologist by trade, Deike has enjoyed exploring the local caves in the area as well. Mickey Deike takes a much simpler view.
“I’m not about the railroad, I’m not about much of anything except that I love this place,” says Deike. “[Shalimar] translates to a place of love – that for me is what Shalimar is.”