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We can’t forget the natural part of the world

One of the things we here in West Virginia are fortunate about is that, just about everywhere we turn, we are surrounded by nature.

In other states, you might have to drive a couple of hours in order to find an area of seemingly unspoiled wilderness. We cherish our forested areas, our lakes and streams and our mountains.

Our company’s Charleston-based reporter, Steven Allen Adams, attended the recent dinner held by the West Virginia Chapter of the Nature Conservancy’s Corporate Council for the Environment. Th Nature Conservancy is an international non-profit with a goal of developing solutions for conserving land and water.

In West Virginia, that includes the preservation of 120,000 acres of land, including Dolly Sods, Ice Mountain and the Greenbrier Valley.

At the same time, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, authorized by Congress, has just received $1.8 million to go toward projects in West Virginia. That is in addition to the almost $250 million spent in the Mountain State since 1965 on more than 500 projects.

And we could receive even more money if the New River Gorge area is designated as a national park.

While we continue to move forward with development in its various forms, we also cannot forget to preserve our natural wonders. Some in the federal government currently don’t seem to share that feeling, but can you imagine for just a moment if West Virginia’s mountains were all gone to allow for strip mining and construction? Could you imagine the Everglades drained in order to build a bunch of strip malls and condos? What about apartments with a view of the waterfalls at Yosemite?

These may seem like extreme examples now, but that’s why it’s important to make sure efforts continue to preserve these areas. We have to think about future generations and how they will be affected by our decisions now.

I don’t know about any of you, but I enjoy an opportunity to get out and enjoy some of West Virginia’s natural beauty. It’s nice to take a walk or a bicycle ride through one of our state parks, to walk up to an overlook and see a valley below, to hear the sounds of nature surrounding me.

We’re surrounded by technology in our daily lives, and it does us all good to be able to unplug, whether it’s for a few hours or a few days, and take some time to appreciate the world around us.

It’s nice to be able to go outside and see the leaves changing colors, or smell the flowers as they bloom, to feel the breeze blowing on our face, to hear the birds singing.

As part of this job, it feels as if we always have to be available, within an arm’s reach of a cellphone or a computer or other digital device in order to communicate with others in the office or in the field, or to file reports either on our website or through social media. That can have an effect on us though, so those moments where I can be away from technology are enjoyable. Those moments where my phone might not be able to receive a signal and I can kind of reconnect with the people and the world around me are great.

Would we be able to do that if all we are ever surrounded by was buildings and technology?

It’s fine to continue progressing and developing, but we also need to remember that necessary balance and preserve what we here before us.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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