March 2017
National Heritage Area Bill Approved by Committee
Phyllis Baxter
AFHA Director

Senate Bill 401 to designate the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area, introduced in February by Sen. Joe Manchin with co-sponsorship from Sen. Capito, Sen. Cardin, and Sen. Van Hollen, has been combined with three other proposed National Heritage Areas into Senate Bill 713 "National Heritage Area Authorization Act of 2017" and was approved unanimously on March 30 by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Manchin commented, "My legislation will have a positive impact on West Virginia’s economy, traditions and our way of life. . . The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area Act will invest in a healthy future for both our children and our growing tourism industry in West Virginia." The next step for this bill will be consideration by the whole Senate. 
AFHA Spring Members Meeting - Summersville May 11

The annual members meeting for Appalachian Forest Heritage Area will be held Thursday, May 11, at Old Main in Summersville. Everyone interested is invited.  The meeting will feature tours and presentations about Nicholas County, a discussion panel about conservation partnerships, and presentations by AFHA AmeriCorps members. Watch our website for more details.

International Migratory Bird Day 

Lauren Merrill
AFHA AmeriCorps

Whether it is the beautiful symphony they serenade us with every morning, the breathtaking sight of their plumage, or the majestic plunge of a raptor gunning for its prey, birds astound and awe. Some are valued for their pest annihilating skills, seed dispersing abilities, or even as game birds, but regardless – conservation for future generations is a priority.

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) is an international effort to celebrate migrating birds, as well as their protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This year for IMBD, groups are highlighting the importance of stopover locations. Migratory birds travel hundreds to thousands of miles to eat, breed, and nest. During this time, they rely on stopover locations that allow them to rest from their journey, and more importantly, eat. Birds can nearly double their body weight at some of these sites! Many birds stop along resource rich areas along the coast, but West Virginia’s forests and wetlands are a safe haven too. Without food to recharge their energy, many cannot reach their destination.

These habitats are managed and supported by National Wildlife Refuges, park systems, and other organizations for the benefit of birds. This year Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge is hosting several events to educate, as well as appreciate, migratory birds.

Join us for bird walks, activities, and an art class to celebrate bird conservation!! All events are free. For more information, check out our events page!

AFHA at History Day

Tyler Winstead
AFHA AmeriCorps

On Thursday, March 9th, several AFHA AmeriCorps service members represented the organization and their sites at the capitol building in Charleston for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History's twenty-first annual History Day. Armed with display boards, posters, and charisma, the AmeriCorps members met and mingled with several other organizations based out of West Virginia who share a passion for historical and cultural preservation. Interested members of the public, local schools, businesses, news teams, and even a handful of politicians attended the event, ideally walking away with an understanding of what programs like the AFHA have to offer communities. 

AFHA's Alison Thornton and Joe Lancaster presenting the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area's table. Seen also are Tyler Winstead (left) and Chris Taylor (right) interacting with a guest.
AFHA sites and members in attendance were: 

Darden Mill Museum: Joe Lancaster
Hands-on Team: Heather Brindza and Kate Sammons
Beverly Heritage Center: Chris Taylor and Jess Marks
Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission: Tyler Winstead
West Virginia Railroad Museum: Ian Gray
Arthurdale Heritage, Inc.: Laura Michelson
North House Museum: Doug Tuers  

Staffers Phyllis Baxter, Logan Smith, and Alison Thornton were also present. 

Shop on and support AFHA. Find out more here.
Experience the heritage of your area! Sites of the Month spotlights events and locations within the region, based on AFHA's four themes: forestry, history, culture, and nature.

Though the area was heavily logged around the turn of the century, 95% of the Deep Creek Lake State Park northern hardwood forest has returned. The Thayerville Fire Tower, also known as the Forestry Tower, was moved to the park and restored for public use. Fire towers were commonly used in the Potomac Highlands during the twentieth century to locate and fight wildfires. 

Fidler’s Mill in Upshur County, constructed in 1821, was purchased and enlarged in 1849 by new owner William Fidler, who used slave labor to construct and operate the new mill. In addition to carding wool and grinding grain for flour or meal, local farmers socialized at the mill, which also hosted an annual Halloween dance on its wooden floors. The mill's power came from a dam upstream on the Little Kanawha River until 1942 when it flooded. Later, the mill was machine operated and was eventually sold in 1978. It is now the last fully operational historic gristmill in Upshur County.
Including many sites across the state, the Mountain Dance Trail is a project of the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis and Elkins College. Destinations along the Trail host a series of scheduled dances for local dancers and visitors alike, where locally based musicians and callers will provide the music and figure calling. Check their dance schedule for dates and a location near you!
Cranesville Swamp Preserve is a mountain bog and forest that creates a uniquely cold and wet refuge for northern varieties of animals and trees. The wetland is an important area for migratory songbirds, including the alder flycatcher and Blackburian warbler. The northern saw-whet owl also nests in the conifer forest. 100 different types of birds can be found in the swamp, including 8 species that are rare at a state level.
Do you have a suggestion for Sites of the Month? Email us at: and let us know your favorite sites throughout AFHA!
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Our mailing address is:
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area
P.O. Box 1206
Elkins, WV 26241