Magazine article American Forests

Selling the Cheat

Magazine article American Forests

Selling the Cheat

Article excerpt

It's a place where water rushes through West Virginia's Cheat Gorge, where kayakers and hikers gather on warm days. A rare snail finds its home here, as does an endangered bat flying among the many winding caves in the area. But it's a place that is also for sale to the highest bidder.

Allegheny Energy, a financially strapped, Maryland-based utility, plans to generate much-needed millions by selling 5,600 undeveloped acres in the gorge and along the picturesque Big Sandy Creek. The state and a group of local activists are calling on kayakers, spelunkers, hikers, outfitters, homeowners, and environmentalists to contribute in an attempt to keep the canyon out of the hands of loggers or developers.

The canyon, which is about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, also features small patches of virgin forest in areas too rocky and steep to be logged, along with gravel and sand bars that create habitat for plants, insects, and animals such as the endangered Indiana bat and the flat-spired three-toothed land snail. …

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