CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The city of Charleston could be welcoming a new ecological gem should it acquire the Wallace-Hartman Nature Preserve.
Members of the Charleston Land Trust on Monday discussed the possibility of having complete ownership of the property, which might bring the land to its intended use.
"Dolly's dream for that land was for it to be a very publicly accessible nature preserve, where there could be education and interpretation of the ecology on the site," said Terrell Ellis of the West Virginia Land Trust.
Dolly Hartman and her four children had donated the 52 acres because they "wanted to keep it green," Hartman told the Gazette in 2011.
The preserve, located off South Ruffner Road in the South Hills area, was donated to the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission in 2002, as well as a conservation easement that was granted to the West Virginia Land Trust.
Part of the preserve was annexed to the city as a result of the Wallace Point housing development, which makes ownership between the county and city about 50/50, Ellis said.
Both entities have discussed and expressed interest in exchanging ownership in the past, according to Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Hutchinson.
"Having that preserve fits squarely into the mission of the Charleston Land Trust," said member Tom Lane. "At this juncture I'm not sure how difficult it would be if we simply annexed it."
The WVLT has received a few small grants over the years for signage and parking, but not much has happened since then, Ellis said.
"They haven't really been able to invest in doing as much with the property as I think we all had hoped," Ellis said.