The AACC will serve as a pragmatic conservation center dedicated to elucidating and developing techniques for the conservation and propagation of imperiled aquatic species endemic to the Central Appalachians, with an emphasis on technique development for the care and propagation of federally and state listed species. Freshwater crayfishes, mussels, aquatic salamanders and nongame fishes all will be studied in the center by West Liberty faculty, undergraduate and graduate students. The AACC will also serve as a holding facility for imperiled aquatic species that are displaced following spills, transportation and community development, or other situations needing aquatic endangered species engagement. The center will serve as a nexus for community engagement specific to watersheds of West Virginia. The ultimate goal of the AACC is to develop techniques needed to restore imperiled species in waters they once occurred, leading to the delisting of aquatic species, and to train the next generation of conservation practitioners focusing on aquatic conservation.
The AACC will serves as a focal point of recovery-based research for all and any federally listed aquatic species that occur in West Virginia and will foster the creation of the next generation of West Virginians trained to be aquatic conservationists. West Liberty University has a growing Zoo Science and Applied Conservation (ZSAC) major, as well as a recently instated graduate program awarding students MS degrees in Biology and Zoo Science. Since the inception of both degrees, conservation-based students majoring in ZSAC now make up roughly 50% of our biology majors, with over 150 students currently enrolled. Young people seeking degree procurement in conservation will have the opportunity to learn and develop rearing and propagation techniques in the AACC, which they can then take with them when they begin their careers as the next generation of Appalachian conservationists.
The AACC is seeking funding to help support its mission and goals. External funds will support capital needs such as lab enhancements and equipment purchases as well as programmatic intiatives.