The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) developed a long-term vision to mitigate for the loss of important forest habitat resulting from construction of the Mountaineer XPress Project, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Supply Header Project. The Conservation Fund then partnered with WVDNR to help deploy these mitigation funds—a new source of conservation capital for the state—on a large-scale conservation project that might not have happened with state and federal funds alone.

Our RolE

The Fund helped assemble 225 high conservation value parcels across seven counties in northwestern West Virginia that will preserve interior woodland habitat and intact forested watersheds essential for federally-listed bat and mussel species, as well as declining species such as the cerulean warbler, red-headed woodpecker, and northern leopard frog. 

In the first of several phases to permanently protect the land, we facilitated the state’s purchase of 12,440 acres with mitigation funds. We then simultaneously purchased the remaining 18,778 acres, using our Working Forest Fund, and will ultimately transfer it to the state in phases over the coming years using funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration program and other sources that will help leverage additional public funds. Under our temporary ownership, the property will be sustainably managed as working forestland and will be open for public access, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation.

Why This Project Matters

In all, more than 31,000 acres will be protected, which will create five new West Virginia Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and expand four existing WMAs and North Bend State Park. This large-scale approach is an important step toward increasing the ability of residents in multiple counties to access and enjoy the landscape in northwestern West Virginia, while benefiting rare, threatened and endangered species. It’s a win for people, wildlife and the rural economy.

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