Nature Conservancy celebrates 50 years in W.Va.

Fifty individuals or organizations who contributed to the protection and restoration of West Virginia’s natural heritage over the past 50 years are being honored by The Nature Conservancy, which has announced the Mountain State’s “Conservation Heroes.”

The Heroes were identified by the staff of the Conservancy, which celebrates 50 years of conservation in West Virginia this year. Those named were chosen from the thousands of dedicated conservationists who have supported the Conservancy mission over the past half century, said Rodney Bartgis, director of The Nature Conservancy’s program in West Virginia.

“We wish to honor the leadership of the conservation movement in West Virginia. These are our partners, our champions in government, our friends,” Bartgis said.

The “Heroes” program honors West Virginians living and remembers those who have passed on. A few examples include:

  • Charlie Baer, a retired professor of ecology at West Virginia University, where the Conservancy has its West Virginia roots,
  • The late U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, who during his many years in Congress tirelessly supported the protection of public lands, especially significant natural areas that are now part of the Monongahela National Forest,
  • The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, whose leaders have worked closely with the Conservancy on many critical conservation projects over the years,
  • Ed Maguire, the Conservancy’s first West Virginia state director, who organized the scattered forces of enthusiastic volunteers across the state and helped launch the private land conservation movement in West Virginia.
  • Volunteers like Steve and Terry Bailes, whose maintenance and public programs at the Conservancy’s Ice Mountain Preserve has brought a greater public appreciation for the National Natural Landmark,
  • And corporate partners, including Dominion, which has supported conservation and stewardship of our Bear Rocks Preserve.

“The Heroes come from all corners of West Virginia and represent a variety of backgrounds,” Bartgis said, “but all exemplify the same standards of persistence, generosity, and enthusiasm for West Virginia’s wild places.”
The Heroes will be honored at the Conservancy’s 50th Anniversary celebration on Friday Oct. 25 in Morgantown.