The City of Lewisburg, Greenbrier River Watershed Association, and the West Virginia Land Trust will hold three informational meetings in July about opportunities for landowners to protect their property as part of a larger effort to safeguard drinking water quality in the Greenbrier River.
“As part of rules passed after the 2014 chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston, communities are required to develop a source water protection plan that identifies strategies that will help prevent contamination of public drinking water supplies,” said John Manchester, mayor of Lewisburg.
According to Manchester, the West Virginia Land Trust approached the city about considering land protection as one of its strategies to protect drinking water.
“The land trust has historically worked with private landowners in West Virginia who are interested in voluntarily placing a conservation easement on their land in order to protect its nat-ural or scenic values, as a working farm, or to keep it undeveloped for future generations,” said Brent Bailey, executive director of the West Virginia Land Trust.
“These are all good reasons to protect a property, but in this case, we are specifically seeking landowners who are willing to voluntarily protect land in areas located upstream of Lewisburg’s drinking water intakes that are strategic for protecting water quality,” Bailey said.
According to Bailey, a conservation easement enables a land owner and a land trust to agree to a set of guidelines that would limit development on all, or part, of their property and protect water quality, among other features. The landowner retains ownership of the property and continues using their land under guidelines identified in the easement.
The partnership recently sent letters to nearly 100 landowners along the Greenbrier River inviting them to the July meetings, which are also open to the public.
“These opportunities are entirely voluntary,” said Manchester. “But as a water provider for nearly 12,000 people in Lewisburg, Frankford, Fairlea, Ronceverte and Renick, the City of Lewisburg welcomes the chance to introduce landowners to the easement process and ways that they can become more involved with protecting critical resources in our community.”
Members of the Greenbrier River Watershed Association also participated in the process to identify parcels of land that are strategic to maintaining a clean water supply for the area.
“The Greenbrier River is a tremendous asset for our region and we encourage landowners to attend one of the three planned public meetings in the area to gather more information about the conservation easement process,” said John J. Walkup III, board president of the Greenbrier River Watershed Association.
The meetings are scheduled as follows:
• Tuesday, July 7, at 7 p.m., Lewisburg City Hall, 942 W. Washington Street, Lewisburg
• Monday, July 13, at 7 p.m., White Sulphur Springs Public Library, 203 W. Main Street, White Sulphur Springs
• Thursday, July 16, at 7 p.m., Frankford Volunteer Fire Department, 123 Water Street, Frankford.
For more information, please contact the West Virginia Land Trust at 304-413-0945 or firstname.lastname@example.org.