CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A proposal to move the Wallace Hartman Nature Preserve completely into Charleston city limits and give the city ownership could allow the preserve to be more visitor friendly, the West Virginia Land Trust suggests.
The 52-acre preserve is owned by the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission, but is already partially located in city limits, just off South Ruffner Road, not far from residential developments in South Hills. A recent annexation by the city placed even more of the preserve behind city lines.
"Half of it's in, half of it's out," Charleston Planning Director Dan Vriendt said at the Charleston Land Trust meeting Monday night.
Under the current setup, the county parks department owns the preserve, and the West Virginia Land Trust is responsible for protecting the conservation easement and permitted uses of the land, said Terrell Ellis, a consultant representing the West Virginia Land Trust.
"From our perspective, having it transferred into city ownership would be a real plus," she said.
Ellis said the county hasn't been proactive about maintaining the preserve, which was donated to the parks commission in 2002 by Dolly Hartman in memory of her parents.
"We want to find a home for this place, somebody that cares for it," she said.
If the nature preserve is transferred to the city, Charleston needs to annex the entire preserve to avoid spending funds on property located outside its borders. Visitors to the park already travel in city limits to reach the land.