MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA—The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently provided $150,000 in federal funding to the West Virginia University Land Use and Sustainable Development (LUSD) Law Clinic to support an ongoing partnership.
“NRCS, our partners and West Virginia landowners will continue to greatly benefit from this agreement with the LUSD Law Clinic,” said Nicole Viars, acting state conservationist. “We are able to continue our commitment through collaborative efforts to address risks and purchase conservation easements. In turn, we will be able to protect more agriculture lands over time.”
Since 2014, the LUSD Law Clinic has assisted NRCS with conservation efforts for more than 20 properties in the state, including farmlands, wetlands, and open spaces. The funds support the LUSDLaw Clinic, based at the WVU College of Law, and NRCS to conserve land and provide educational and other outreach services throughout West Virginia.
“The additional funding allows us to continue working with NRCS until September 2019 with greater capacity than before,” said Katherine Garvey, director of the clinic.
Students in the LUSD Law Clinic are gaining valuable experience working on the NRCS project. With supervision from clinic attorneys, they conduct title examinations and write opinions that describe current ownership rights of property being considered for conservation.
Jason M. Walls, land conservation attorney for the LUSD Law Clinic, is principal investigator under theNRCS agreement, and Nathan J. Fetty, the clinic’s managing attorney, is co-investigator. Joseph L. Hatton, NRCS Farm Bill Specialist-Easements, assigns cases and works closely with LUSD Law Clinic staff and students in their performance under the agreement.
With the addition of this recent award, the LUSD Law Clinic has secured approximately $186,000 inNRCS funding to continue supporting a variety of conservation initiatives central to the mission of both organizations. Initially, the partnership between the clinic and the NRCS began as a pro bono assistance project before the clinic was awarded approximately $36,000 in federal funds in 2014.
The LUSD Law Clinic provides legal services to local governments, landowners and non-profit organizations to develop land conservation strategies and practices. The clinic identifies and conserves sensitive land, supports local land use decision-makers, addresses wastewater issues, and provides educational opportunities for law students.
The gift was made through the WVU Foundation in conjunction with “A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University.” The $1 billion fundraising effort runs through December 2017.