Ecology is the basis of how everything ties into everything else and conservation is the protection of these communities.  Biodiversity conservation is essential to sustaining the natural landscapes.  And is a central component of ecosystem management.


Leave no trace is the philosophy of treated nature with respect while in the woods.  Such a philosophy is a life style, which ultimately includes conservation of all resources.  This can include recycling, reducing resource utilization (less electricity, less automotive, less heating and cooling).


The ultimate expression of leave no trace is basically to act and live within the natural cycles of nature.  In a natural world, all elements are cycled.  We live best when we can also keep all elements within their cycles.  Examples include waste products in an outhouse versus disposal in a river.  A better example is using solar energy instead of fossil fuel energy.  This is conservation; this is leaving no trace.


The ATC is now the AT Conservancy.  The definition of conservancy is conserving resources.  This is the new emphasis of the ATC.  We see this in E & T species monitoring, air quality monitoring, (more examples). 


Our PATC is cooperating with ATC for E&T species monitoring and now, water quality monitoring.


Conservation is protection of habitats.  Ecosystems must be considered in addition to individual species.  In protecting rare plants, the position of many native plant societies is based on one premise:  protect habitat.


Benton MacKaye was thinking of protecting habitat when he developed his concept of the Appalachian Trail.  His was a vision of wilderness, in which the human was only a visitor.  He, along with Bob Marshall and others, were the founders of the Wilderness Society.  (Blurb about the wilderness society goals).


Aldo Leopold was a leader and principal instigator in FWS policies in Wilderness protection.


One of the issues that most effects us is the revision of National Forest Management Plans.  The Monongahela NF Management Plan is currently in draft EIS form.  You can comment on this by going to ….. Lands eligible for wilderness designation are called roadless areas.  By law, forest plan revisions must review these roadless areas for possible recommendations for Congressional designation as wilderness.


To cover them all at a stroke, we decided to go for saving the ecosystem first.  They began looking to restore some of the missing mountain forests, to reconnect fragments too small to support squirrels or salamanders on their own.  (Saving the boreal forests of Mongo NF for Cheat Mtn salas, northern flying squirrel, saw-whet, northern goshawk and fisher.


Over the past half-billion years, the planet lost perhaps one species per million species each year.  Today, the annual rate of extinction is 1,000 to 10,000 times faster.


The more numerous the species that inhabit an ecosystem, such as a forest or lake, the more productive and stable is the ecosystem.


As with politics, all conservation ultimately is local.  Efforts to protect our remaining natural lands and waters are now the focus of unprecedented interest and activity.  Taking local conservation action, however, requires localized information and knowledge.



PATC is a supporting member of the WV Highlands Conservancy, who is a major player in the MNPMP.  Also playing a major role is the WV Wilderness Coalition, including the WVHC, WV Wilderness Society, and the WV chapter of the Sierra Club. 


Other organizations are adopting policies to protect wilderness.  The Nature Conservancy has been purchasing properties for many years.


In addition to protecting rare, and/or unspoiled habitats, another aspect of conservation includes providing corridors for the movement of wildlife from one protected area to another.  This allows the freedom of genetic exchange and population movement as circumstances might dictate.  The AT is the ultimate corridor for protection.


PATC is also a player in habitat protection.  We have over 35 tracts of land that have over 5 acres of land.  Some are next to National Forests or National Park properties.  It is important for our club to recognize the direction our ATC is taking us in this century and maintain the leadership among the clubs in the ATC that our club has historically always provided.  In fact, nothing would please me more than for our organization to change it’s name to PAT Conservancy.


Our Constitution directs us to ……  Our policies on Land Use Management,

Leave no trace is based on the conservation of our resources.  It’s time we recognize what the AT Conservancy has already grasped:  the forests that we love are being impacted by development pressures, introduced species and competing management opportunities.


It’s time PATC clarifies it’s purpose and direction for the next century.  Conservation of resources, protection of habitats and advocate of these goals among other organizations and state and federal agencies.


Nature is a balance of all of living animals, with none playing a significant role in the mix.  Introduced species can upset that balance, due to lack of predator controls, and can dominate a habitat, becoming a significant influence on the welfare of the community.





Wilderness areas provide many benefits to us in addition to the hiking and human outdoor experience.  They are the reservoirs of biological diversity.  It is here where the natural processes of nature have the best chance of survival.  Compared with young forests, it is in the old growth forests where research tells us more species of every kind – trees, birds, salamanders, snakes, insects, ferns, mosses lichens, and fungi – can be found.  They are better at protecting water quality within the watershed, recycling nutrients, limiting downstream floods, improving air quality, and buffering environmental stresses. 

They can provide critical wildlife habitat corridors connecting disjunct wildlife populations.  This not only allows for increased gene pool flow, but also reduced the harmful impact of “edge effects” of invading plants, animals, and diseases. 

Just as importantly, wilderness areas are places of great scenic beauty.  They provide a place for spiritual and emotional renewal.

Nationwide, national forests account for 4% of the nation’s timber production, while the average in the southern Appalachian region is about 10%.  National forests in the southern Appalachians constitute only 12% of the forested lands in the region.  While timber production has substantially declined in the National Forests, total timber production has been roughly about the same over the last decade.  This is indicative of the increase in timber production on private land.


The costs of harvesting timber are $150 - $200 more per acre on national forest land than private land in the region, based on differences in slope, distance to a road and trees per acre. 

With the signing of the Wilderness Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 3, 1964, the National Wilderness Preservation System was established to " for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness."


I would like to remind colleagues of the words of Aldo Leopold in his book A Sand County Almanac. He said "The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not the television or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little is known about it."


rise above political parties, and consider first and foremost the national interest.

One of the brightest stars in the constellation of conservation measures is the -wilderness bill

John Hay suggests in his book The Immortal Wilderness that wilderness is not simply designated areas. Wilderness is the very texture of our true, natural lives, the whole interpenetrating system of things. Hay calls wilderness "the earth's immortal genius." Gary Snyder likens wilderness to the system of planetary intelligence. Wilderness is both the DNA of human culture and the organizing intelligence of planetary life.

Their thrust will be to close the gaps between the isolated tracts of publicly owned, protected habitat. The idea is to form a long chain, from one end of the region to the other, of "core" blocks of public forest linked by means of newly dedicated wildlands not necessarily in public ownership. The result will be an enlarged wildlands network with ecosystem integrity, capable of (1) sustaining the region’s black bear population, its keystone predators, and other wide-ranging native species and (2) providing an expanded protected physical setting for wilderness-based human recreational, educational, and spiritual experiences.

Today, some define wilderness as a sanctuary in which those in need of consolation can find respite from the pressures of civilization. Bob Marshall, champion for wilderness, demanded an area so large that "it could not be traversed without mechanical means in a single day." Aldo Leopold, wilderness visionary, set his standard as an area’s ability to "absorb a two weeks’ pack trip." A century-old movement to protect wild country reached it’s peak moments in time with the creation of a National Wilderness Preservation System, passed into law by Congress as the Wilderness Act of 1964. According to it’s authors, the Wilderness Act defined wilderness, "in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." The act went on to require that a wilderness retain "its primeval character and influence" and that it be protected and managed in such a way that it "appears to have been affected primarily by the force of nature."

Research shows that there’s more species of everything in an old growth forest compared to young forests – more trees, more wildflowers more birds, more salamanders, more mammals, and more insects, ferns, mosses, lichens, fungi, etc.  These complex, intertwined systems are better at recycling nutrients, generating clean water, limiting floods, and fending off environmental stresses.  Conservation biologists have discovered that these isolated fragments are subjected to a whole host of harmful edge effects.  Their perimeters are weakly defended and face greater exposure to diseases, parasites, weather extremes, and the invasion of non-native species and predators 

According to Congressional mandate, the Forest Service must manage the forests to maximize the net social and economic contributions of our national forests so that they provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. By law, the agency must also fully account for all the benefits and costs of management decisions.  The financial and socioeconomic data provided by the Forest Service support the conclusion that maximizing our investments in national forests would mean a move away from appropriations for extractive industries and toward protection of wildlife, fish, soil, air, water and undeveloped recreation. 

Conservation is to conserve nature.  It is to conserve our resources.  Nature does it best through nutrient cycles.  Man’s inefficient use of resources is the losses from the natural cycles.  For example, an outhouse versus a river discharge. 


Another is wood use.  Conservation is conserve our natural habitats.  These maximize species diversity – which maximizes resource utilization, thus, energy utilization.


The light of a firefly versus electric lamp.  Nature does it better


Save habitat – quote Stan – three most important things is save habitats.


We spend tens of millions of dollars annually around the Chesapeake on storm
water detention basins, sediment fences, agricultural terracing and a host
of other techniques to control polluted runoff. Nothing yet devised, or likely
to be devised, works better than leaving the forest intact.

The fuel of nature’s system is based on the energy radiating from the sun.  Much better than our fossil fuels.  Nature does it better.


Follow the role of nature. 


The ATC is now a conservancy.  This is a sign of the organization’s future goals.  A conservancy saves natural resources.  We are looking at rare and endangered species, water quality, air quality through volunteer monitoring programs.  That is the future of the club.


PATC, one of the leaders in ATC philosophy, has a start in these programs.


Leave no trace follows the concept of conservation.  But I prefer the philosophy of leave no trace over the rules.  If taken to it’s ultimate extreme, we wouldn’t walk in the woods. A more appropriate name, without the shine, would be Minimize your trace.


The philosophy is to conserve our natural resources.