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Jefferson Co. considers protecting unique areas

July 21, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A plan to protect unique natural, cultural and recreational areas in Jefferson County in the face of growth in coming years is being considered.

County officials in the past have had "no legal basis" to protect the areas, Jefferson County Commission member Rusty Morgan said Thursday.

But now, the commission is considering incorporating protections for the areas in the county's land-use laws, Morgan said.

Using technology like GIS (geographic information system), the effort will involve identifying the unique areas and outlining them on overlay maps, Morgan said.

GIS is a collection of computer hardware, software and geographic information to analyze geographic features.

Morgan used Bullskin Run in the southern part of the county as a possible example. In addition to the stream itself, it might be determined that there are about a dozen historical sites around the stream that might deserve some protection, Morgan said.

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Morgan said other areas that might deserve protection include springs or sinkholes that can provide direct access to groundwater supplies.

Referred to as a Green Infrastructure Assessment, the commission and The Conservation Fund are working together on the project. Several public meetings are planned as part of the effort.

The Conservation Fund was expected to hold an open house Thursday night at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va., for residents who want to learn about the effort.

On Oct. 10, at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, a preliminary green infrastructure framework will be presented for local citizens to review. On Nov. 15, at the hotel, citizens will be able to review a proposed final green infrastructure framework, officials said.

"We are fortunate to have a well-informed and engaged public here in Jefferson County and are looking forward to their participation during this process," said Joe Hankins, vice president of The Conservation Fund.

For more information, contact Michael Schwartz at 304-876-2815 or m.schwartz@freshwaterinstitute.org.

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