The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s (RMEF) spanking new “Hatfield-McCoy Elk Country Chapter” held its gala banquet here Saturday. Hatfield-McCoy is for the obvious geographical connection and Elk Country for being in the heart of West Virginia’s proposed seven-county planned elk restoration zone. No coincidence then, the event was held at the Chief Logan State Park Conference Center.
More than 100 folks attended, some from as far as central Kentucky and northern West Virginia. Bill Carman, RMEF Regional Director who handles Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, was quite pleased with such a fine turnout for the new chapter’s first event. Considering the summer vacation time of year and short notice for the event, it was particularly successful.
Diana Barnette, local banquet chairperson along with Steve Ratz and Anthony Bazzilla, served as coordinators for the event and were recognized for their efforts by Carman. The local committee in turn thanked their volunteers but was also pleased with the event considering the tough present times with the coal economy here.
Nevertheless, the somewhat familiar silent and live auctions and prize raffles all went well and there were no complaints about the fine facilities and food at the Conference Center. Everett Thompson served as the auctioneer which he thankfully does for just about all the conservation events in these parts.
The Chapter hopes that events like this and others in West Virginia will provide some economic spark to the malingering status of active elk restoration in the backyard counties. With the coal economy languishing, the potential elk viewing tourism and hunting recreation can provide critically needed economic diversification for the area.
RMEF also has West Virginia chapters in Beckley, Charleston and Clarksburg with over 500 chapters nationwide totaling over 200,000 members. Their mission is to “ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”