ELKINS — The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in West Virginia has protected 1,971 acres of important lands in Canaan Valley, Tucker County, WV. The tract, called “Big Cove,” was purchased from Western Pocahontas Properties. The property borders the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge (CVNWR) to the south and is west of the Dolly Sods Wilderness. Conservation of this property protects unique wildlife habitat; secures public access for hunting, fishing and recreation; and creates vital habitat and trail connections in the northern end of Canaan Valley.
Big Cove sits in the northern end and is the crown of Canaan Valley, a biodiversity-rich and climate-resilient landscape. It expands habitat from the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge that features many rare species that occupy the forest, stream and wetland habitats in this area. The tract’s position on the landscape also ensures it will continue to allow nature to adapt to climate change and will be an important refuge and migration corridor.
In addition to the importance to nature, Big Cove will also provide essential ecological services for people and be complimentary to local recreation economies. The U.S. Forest Service’s Forests to Faucets analysis identifies this landscape as in the second highest of 10 categories for national surface drinking water importance. Finally, Canaan Valley plays an outsized role in the tourism and outdoor recreation economic sector of West Virginia, and protection of Big Cove secures key public access for recreation, as well as additional trail connections in the area.
“Protection of Big Cove is a great complement to the larger development and recreation plans that are being worked on in the Davis-Thomas-Canaan Valley area,” state TNC West Virginia Executive Director Thomas Minney. “We believe this project helps ensure key natural areas are protected, while also allowing for it to be a part of the larger vision for trails, recreation and tourism. Conservation and development can be done in complementary ways to continue to benefit Tucker County and its residents.”
TNC is dedicated to engaging with stakeholders to help develop recreational and lands management planning for the tract and the broader Canaan Valley/Dolly Sods landscape.