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What a pivotal time to live in Randolph County!

The paper has been full of great news for Elkins, with a $5.4 million economic development grant for the RCDA to build a conference and events center on the railyard.

The Mountain State Forest Festival amphitheater is under renovation at Davis & Elkins College thanks to support from Citizens Bank of WV and City of Elkins.

The Augusta Heritage Center is working with Davis Trust Co. and Woodlands Development Group to renovate the Wilt Building in the heart of downtown.

These building investments and a new Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area designation will make Elkins more popular for tourism.

When travelers decide to come here, they will want to buy Dr. Jim Van Gundy’s new motorist’s guide, “The Nature and Scenery of the West Virginia Highlands.”

This book is based on the scientific knowledge of a retired college professor who has led enjoyable eco-tourism adventures for cruise ship passengers in many other parts of the world.

Cultural and ecological tourism will be important parts of our Randolph County Renaissance, but it is not our only local contribution to economic changes necessary to combat global warming.

Monongahela National Forest is more than just a pretty place to visit. It is the largest national forest east of the Mississippi, and it offers opportunities for forest management research to help prevent forest fires and preserve large trees. This is some of the most important work that can be done to slow the dangerous heating process on earth now.

Although we have more rain than we want this summer and we worry about flooding, we know that many western states have been suffering from forest fires and drought for the last several summers.

These facts are a preview of what could happen if we do not know how to embrace practices that will help keep West Virginia and the world cooler.

We are fortunate to have conservation and forestry professionals in our community who can help us ensure that our new development does not contribute to harmful climate change. We need more trees on the railyard to increase shade cover, and we need to avoid adding more heat islands of blacktop in the parking lots.

The idea of permeable parking lots will be new in Elkins, but it is important that federal funding projects follow best practices to help cool communities and reduce flooding.

Last Saturday the comic strip “Mark Trail” described the “Depavement Movement” where communities remove paved ground to allow the return of a more natural ecosystem.

Blacktop reflects the heat of the sun and does not allow natural runoff during rain storms; therefore, it contributes to our ecological problems.

Elkins is not ready to pay for “Depavment” now, but we should not add more blacktop when we are aware of the harm it can do to the environment, and we have much better options.

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