Residents Discuss Natural Resources

The expanding oil and gas industry, water quality and preserving wildlife were just some of the topics discussed at a Marshall County land management meeting with the West Virginia University Extension Service on Monday at Grand Vue Park.

Woodland owners in Marshall County gathered at the park to discuss what they believe are the county’s most valuable natural resources to preserve and what influences they view as threats to the health of their land and the neighbors’ land.

Residents at the meeting listed water, trees, public land, oil and gas and area wildlife as the county’s most valuable natural resources. Potential threats listed also included the oil and gas industry, declining water quality, noise pollution, soil erosion, Environmental Protection Agency regulations, land damage from outside workers and industrial issues.

The meeting was part of the Landscape Forest Stewardship Project, a study headed by Dave McGill, a professor and extension specialist at WVU, to gather information on the natural resources and land use from different regions in West Virginia.

The program aims to help landowners actively manage their forested land by offering technical and financial assistance to private owners looking to use their land for timber, wildlife, recreation and aesthetic benefits.

“Part of this is learning to engage the population on landscape forestry and beginning the discussion of widening natural resources management,” McGill said. “We talk to land owners face-to-face and foresters give their input on natural resources in the region.”

According to the statistics provided by the WVU Extension Service, landowners in Marshall County own an average property size of 30 acres. Of the 200,000 acres of land in the county, about 75 percent of the land is privately owned, forested land, while about 20 percent is used for agriculture.

Marshall County resident Calvin Merinar, who owns a farm in the Sand Hill area, said he came to the meeting to get some ideas and tips on how to develop his land. Merinar said he has multiple plans for his land, including cattle grazing, forest management and game management, but wanted to talk to experts to begin his next phase of development.