Photographic book

Environmental Protection


Picture of West Virginia
Picture of West Virginia

West Virginia’s most pressing conservation concerns are soil and forest conservation and the regulation of strip mining. Soil erosion was severe until federal conservation programs were initiated in the 1930s. Since then, it has been reduced by strip-cropping, contour plowing, and terracing. Severe erosion problems have resulted from strip mining. Although West Virginia laws require coal companies to restore the land to its original contours after stripping, regulation of stripping operations has frequently been ineffective.

An increased public awareness of the importance of conservation and environmental protection began to develop in the 1960s. In 1961 the legislature created the Natural Resources Commission, with responsibilities including maintenance of forests, protection of fish and game, beautification of the state and its highways, and development of land, mineral, and water resources. In 1964 the lawmakers established the Water Resources Board, charged with protection and development of the state’s water supply and given the power to fine corporations and individuals convicted of polluting the state’s waterways. In 1989 the Bureau of Environment was created as part of the new Department of Commerce, Labor, and Environment, one of seven major departments reporting directly to the governor. Associated with the bureau are numerous boards and commissions with specific conservation and environmental responsibilities.

In spite of the progress West Virginia made in dealing with conservation and environmental affairs, many problems remained in the 1990s and into the 2000s. Flooding, mudslides, and landslides that followed heavy rains were worsened by deforestation and mining activities that have stripped away mountaintops. The state’s coal-fueled power plants have contributed to air pollution. "West Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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