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Rep. Nick Rahall Honored at Earth Day Celebration
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by Matt Keller | 2005

West Virginia Wilderness Coalition Praised Congressman’s commitment to Protecting the Environment and Conserving Wild Public Lands.

Beth Little, Mary Wimmer, Dave Saville, and Matt Keller with honoree, Rep. Nick Rahall

SLATYFORK, WV – U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall, II was honored at the Elk River Touring Center during the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy’s Spring Review for his distinguished conservation record and longstanding commitment to public lands protection and preserving West Virginia’s natural heritage. The Mountaineer Conservation Leadership Award was presented at an Earth Day celebration sponsored by the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition in partnership with the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

“Congressman Rahall has been working to protect the Mountain State’s natural heritage for nearly 30 years,” said Richwood Mayor Bob Henry Baber, who presented the award to Congressman Rahall. “This is a small way for West Virginians to say thank you for protecting our God-given treasures, like the Mon and the New, Gauley and Meadow Rivers.”

Also presenting the award to the Congressman was Beth Little, a member of the West Virginia Sierra Club and the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition.

“Representative Rahall is often pointed to as one of our nation’s top lawmakers on environmental issues and, as the senior Democrat on the House Resources Committee, he is the leader in the House of Representatives fighting to protect public lands nationwide,” said Little.

The following is a list detailing the conservation leadership of Congressman Rahall:

  • Worked on legislation establishing every unit of the National Park System and every wilderness area since 1977, including the Cranberry and Laurel Fork North and South Wilderness Areas.
  • Twice extended the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program to finance the restoration of abandoned coal mine lands.
  • Sponsored legislation adding the New River Gorge National River to the National Park System and successfully expanding its boundary three times. One expansion recently blocked a proposed gas pipeline.
  • Authored the legislation establishing the Gauley River National Recreation Area and Bluestone National Scenic River in 1989.
  • Lead the fight against a proposed 765kv power line across the New River and defeated the proposal by designating a segment of the river for study under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
  • Championed funding for critical land acquisitions in the Monongahela National Forest, including at Shavers Fork.
  • Established the southern West Virginia National Coal Heritage Area to preserve and protect historical resources in the region.
  • Led efforts to prohibit oil and gas development in National Monuments and to prevent surface coal mining operations in parks and other federally protected areas.
  • Shepherded comprehensive legislation to reform the Mining Law of 1872 for the first time through the House of Representatives.
  • Continues to advocate for more federal wilderness and preserving important environmental laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, Clean Water Act, and Magnuson Fisheries Act. 

“West Virginia is lucky to have a conservation champion in Congressman Rahall,” said Matt Keller, coordinator of the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition. “It has been more than 20 years since wilderness was designated in our state, and we hope tonight’s Earth Day celebration sheds light on the need to designate more wilderness in the Mon. We have some of the best unprotected wild places in the East, very little wilderness.”

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