Fifty years ago, a group of West Virginians heard about an approach to conservation that sounded promising. So they formed the West Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
During the past half-century, those pioneers and many other West Virginia residents have learned the Conservancy was by far the best bet for preserving beautiful, naturally significant places in West Virginia.
The state chapter's founders had, on their own, bought a 259-acre tract of land in Preston County, part of the ancient Cranesville Swamp. Since 1963, the West Virginia chapter has added to its holdings regularly but judiciously. It now preserves nearly 120,000 acres of land and streams throughout the state.
No other organization comes even close to what the Conservancy has accomplished in West Virginia - and worldwide.
The Conservancy does so much good by collaborating with land owners, including individuals and businesses. Instead of accusing them of being insensitive to the environment, the Conservancy asks for - and often gets - their help in preservation projects. "We don't confront people," explained West Virginia chapter Director Rodney Bartgis, "so they don't run away from us."
Many West Virginians already are grateful for that approach. Our children and grandchildren will be, too.
So, congratulations, Nature Conservancy, and happy 50th anniversary in wild, wonderful West Virginia.