Nearly $500,000 from the developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline has been awarded in grants to promote conservation and outdoor recreation along a stretch of the Appalachian Trail.
Funding for the eight grants came from a $19.5 million pledge by Mountain Valley, which entered into a voluntary conservation agreement last year with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and The Conservation Fund.
The bulk of the grant money, $300,000, will be used to develop the Giles County Trail Center, which will provide information about local trails, designated parking and restroom facilities, and access to hiking on the Appalachian Trail and around Mountain Lake and Bald Knob.
“Programs like these are essential in connecting people to nature and the various values and benefits found outdoors,” Sandra Marra, president and CEO of the trail conservancy, said in an announcement of the grants Friday.
After Mountain Valley began construction in 2018 — causing widespread environmental problems with muddy runoff from work sites — the company agreed to help promote conservation and recreation in areas of West Virginia and Virginia near the Appalachian Trail, which the pipeline crosses at the state line in Giles County.
Other grant recipients are:
Friends of Monroe County, West Virginia: $43,100 to develop a visitor’s guide and hire two AmeriCorps interns to assist in historic preservation and other efforts.
Humble Hustle Company: $40,000 to create a new part-time position that will support the company’s mission of empowering Black youth and connecting diverse communities in the Roanoke region.
Wonder Universe: A Children’s Museum: $40,000 to assist in educating children on the flora and fauna found on the Appalachian Trail and promoting environmental stewardship.
Mayapple School: $23,000 to expand a summer camp for about 100 children, including one overnight backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.
The Roanoke Parks and Recreation Department: receive $20,000 to support a yearlong Outdoor Adventure Club for underserved urban youth.
The Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District: $16,000 to implement an educational program to help teachers demonstrate the interconnected web of ecological relationships in the Blue Ridge.
The Mountain Lake Biological Station: $11,000 to develop an interpretative trail and native plant restoration plot.
In a separate project, more than $1 million was spent last year for nearly 600 acres of rural land around McAfee Knob, protecting the scenic views from the Roanoke County landmark. Additional disbursements from Mountain Valley’s gift are planned in the future.