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WV Delegates honored for Efforts on Wild Mon Legislation
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by Mike Costello, WV Wilderness Coalition | 2009

Celebrations and recognition for those legislators that supported the Wild Mon Act

At a reception held on May 29 at the Greenbrier County Public Library in Lewisburg, Congressman Nick Rahall joined dozens of wilderness advocates, including local elected officials, business owners and members of the faith community to celebrate the enactment of the Wild Monongahela Act, West Virginia’s first wilderness legislation in over 25 years. Rahall praised the persistence and grassroots organizing efforts of the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition over the years.

As the legislation’s primary author, Rahall championed Wild Mon and, as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, he was instrumental in shepherding this and many other conservation measures included in the 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Management Act through Congress to final passage. The Congressman was honored for his sponsorship, and was presented with a framed photo of the recently designated Spice Run Wilderness, in Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties.

On June 1st, in Shepherdstown, a receptionwas held to honor Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito for her efforts as a co-sponsor of Wild Mon. In attendance were members of the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, particularly the church’s youth group, which has been heavily involved in the faith community’s campaign to protect the Mon.

In 2006, the youth group traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby the state’s entire delegation for wilderness designation for special places on the Mon. They assembled a document entitled We Want More Wilderness, which included Bible versus pertaining to wilderness, as well as poetry, stories and reflections collected on a group trip to several of the Mon’s wild places.

At the event, held at Shepherdstown’s Entler Hotel, several members of the youth group and their leader, Brandon Dennsion, recounted stories of their trip to Washington D.C. and shared their inspirational experiences in some of the places now protected under Wild Mon. Ed Zahniser, Shepherdstown resident and son of 1964 Wilderness Act author Howard Zahniser, gave some inspiring remarks about the lasting legacy of this wilderness measure, and the importance of the youth group’s involvement.

“They traveled to some of these wilderness areas and then worked to get the Wild Monongahela Act supported and passed,” Zahniser said of the youth group. “That’s what democracy is all about.”

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