The West Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy is celebrating its 50th year in 2013. That's five decades of preserving some of West Virginia's most pristine and unique lands.
While many environmental activists make healines, but little headway, with disruptive sit-ins, The Nature Conservancy collaborates to produce positive results.
In West Virginia, as in the 49 other states and in 35 countries, those results equal real protection of some of the most diverse and unique natural places.
The Nature Conservancy's strategy is to be collaborative, science-based and holistic. "This approach enables us to preserve healthy ecosystems capable of supporting people and nature for generations to come," the organization says on its website.
The Conservancy is actively engaged in land conservation, forest health, energy development, climate change and fresh water.
State Director Rodney Bartgis states he is proud of the legacy The Nature Conservancy has created by conserving 120,000 acres of West Virginia land.
He, and all West Virginians, have a right to be proud of the organization's work.
The group has 13 preserves in West Virginia so far, starting with its initial project to protect the Cranesville Swamp in Preston County.
And it doesn't just create its own preserves. The Nature Conservancy protects other lands by purchasing conservation easements or by purchasing land and transferring ownership to conservation agencies.
All the while, the Conservancy works with others. Rather than opposing industry that impacts the land, the Conservancy reaches out.
"For decades, The Nature Conservancy has recognized that the private sector has an important role to play in advancing our conservation mission . . . To not work with companies as they seek to become environmentally sustainable is to miss an opportunity to create real conservation gains around the world," the organization says.
Some radical environmentalists have criticized The Nature Conservancy for accepting "tainted money" from industry. A Conservancy legend says that one of its early presidents responded by saying, "It may be tainted, but it tain't enough."
Anyone interested in helping The Nature Conservancy preserve more of West Virginia's beautiful and unique lands can contact the chapter at 304-637-0160 or visit www.nature.org.