WV WaterNet: Summer Edition


Warm Springs Run Watershed Association Partners with WV Rivers

The construction of the US Route 522 Bypass involves major earth disturbance and the removal of 300 acres of trees. Warm Springs Watershed Association (WSWA) and WV Rivers Coalition have partnered to monitor potential construction impacts on Warms Springs Run. State regulations require construction projects to control erosion with silt fences and sediment ponds. Erosion control failures can result in increased runoff and sediment deposits in the stream. Increased runoff and sedimentation in the stream have the potential to erode streambanks, harm aquatic life, and exacerbate flooding issues.

WV Rivers, in partnership with Trout Unlimited, developed a program with funding from the WV Department of Environmental Protection to train citizens to monitor large-scale construction activities. This new partnership will provide WSWA with the tools, equipment, and training needed to monitor construction activities and potential water quality impacts. “Our citizen monitoring program equips residents with the knowledge and tools they need to help protect the streams they care about.” says Autumn Crowe, Staff Scientist and Interim Program Director for WV Rivers.

The Warm Springs Watershed Association seeks additional volunteers to keep an eye out for increased runoff and sediment in the stream. The monitoring program will include training on the use of WV Stream Watch, an app to help WSWA volunteers report erosion control issues. WV Rivers relays information submitted through the app to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. “In the past, there has been little or late follow-up to reports individuals have made about violations,” said WSWA President Kate Lehman. “We welcome assistance from a larger organization in reporting what we observe.”

WSWA supports the construction of the bypass, but strives to insure that the erosion control measures mandated by the WV Department of Environmental Protection are properly installed and maintained to prevent damages to the Run.


Changes are Brewing at Kanawha State Forest


If you think something out of the ordinary is happening at Kanawha State Forest, that is because it is! Ellison Pond is in the process of receiving a facelift thanks to the West Virginia Department of Environmental protections In-Lieu Fee (ILF) program. The dam which creates Ellison Pond is proposed to be removed and a more natural stream channel left in its place.

The removal of the existing dam will allow aquatic organisms such as benthic macroinvertebrates (the small bugs that live in the stream), fish, amphibians, and reptiles to move freely up and down the stream in cooler water without the impedance of the dam to stop them.


Once the project is complete the area will support many of the same outdoor recreational activities as it always has. A new class Q fishing pier will be constructed to replace the one that is currently in place and the stream will be stocked with trout by the DNR during their regular spring stockings. The same mountain biking and hiking opportunities will be available at the forest as they always have been, but parts of some trails will need to be temporarily closed during construction. The forest will remain open during the construction activities with efforts made to affect guests as little as possible.

The dam proposed to be removed was built during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and is listed as a structure of historical significance and was placed on the register of historic places in 1993. The ILF program has worked with the State Historic Preservation Office, WV DNR, and U.S Army Corps of Engineers to devise a plan that will preserve the history of the site while allowing the project to be completed. The decommissioning of the dam will not be a full demolition and portions of the structure will remain in place along with multiple informational kiosks which will tell the story of the CCC and why the dam was built as well as provide a brief history of the Kanawha State Forest and the role the CCC played in making it what it is today.

The dam removal project will take place from September 2021 through November 2021 with any work remaining being completed the spring of 2022. The dam removal will be both an environmental and recreational benefit by creating a more divers aquatic habitat and allowing for the continuation of the class Q fishery designation within the Forest.


Outreach and Education on Wetlands: New Tasks for Basin Coordinators

From Opequon Creek to Fourpole Creek, West Virginians are paddling, wading, swimming, studying, protecting, and restoring streams and rivers. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is renewing its efforts to build a similar network for the sake of the state’s wetlands.

This is the news: WVDEP put in a proposal to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Wetlands Program Development Grant program, and the EPA has approved the proposal.

When the performance period of the grant officially begins, the Basin Coordinators in the Watershed Improvement Branch will begin a number of new tasks, including:

  • Organizing field-trip workshops to teach people about wetlands.
  • Hosting educational workshops for teachers and providing them with resources..
  • Printing an educational booklet about wetlands as a topic for STEM education.
  • Producing videos about individual wetlands in West Virginia.
  • Compiling on-line resources.
  • Strengthening ties and cooperation among wetland enthusiasts across the state.

Map showing wetlands across the state that already have infrastructure to allow people to explore them.

The Basin Coordinators hope to involve as many watershed groups across the state as they can. Watershed groups might adopt a wetland to protect from encroachment as well as from invasive plant species. Watch for workshops about vernal pools at the next West Virginia Watershed Symposium!

In many ways, this news is a continuation of work that has been going on for a while. WVDEP has secured two Wetland Program Development Grants before. They have led to some very important achievements. For example, West Virginia wetlands guru Elizabeth Byers has been developing the West Virginia Wetland Rapid Assessment Method (WVWRAM). This assessment method is allowing WVDEP and others more objectivity and subtlety to say that this acre of wetland, which hosts a species of plant found in only five places across the state and sits on soft organic soil that filters out pollutants, is more valuable than that acre of wetland, that holds only reed canary grass (which is an invasive wetland plant) and no organic soil.

The Watershed Assessment Branch in WVDEP has led the wetland program development work. Other tasks for this year’s grant include educating more environmental professionals about using the WVWRAM and hiring a contractor who will update the National Wetland Inventory maps for more than 20 counties.

The Wetland Program Development Grants should address four core areas: monitoring and assessment, voluntary restoration and protection, regulatory approaches, and wetland-specific water quality standards. The Basin Coordinators are taking on outreach tasks, but with all the connections they bring in, they are hoping to make contributions to those core areas as well.


National Public Lands Day Celebrated at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve with Volunteer Work Event

With the help of Stewards Individual Placements and Appalachian Conservation Corps, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve celebrated its first National Public Lands Day event as a National Park with a volunteer trail work and park maintenance event.

"We are excited to be hosting this Public Lands Day event with Conservation Legacy," said Carmen Chapin, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Acting Superintendent. “Partnerships and volunteer efforts support stewardship of New River and parks throughout the National Park Service."

Thirty-one volunteers arrived at the Grandview Amphitheater on Saturday, September 25, to clear trails of overgrowth and debris, clean playground equipment, and pull weeds. The volunteers worked on Turkey Spur Trail, Rim Trail and Castle Rock Trail as well as on the Grandview Playground and the Grandview Basketball Court. The effort equaled a cumulative 93 hours of volunteer service. Represented among the volunteers were college students from WVU Tech and Appalachian Bible College.

“Stewards is glad to help host an event that brings awareness to the conservation efforts that happen every day and that invites newcomers to conservation to join these efforts,” said April Elkins-Badtke, Corps Director of Stewards Individual Placements. “We take a lot of pride in serving out of southern West Virginia and we want our community to experience conservation service in a fun way!”
Corey Lilly, the Director of Outdoor Recreation Development Office for the City of Beckley, welcomed the volunteers with a message about career opportunities in West Virginia’s outdoors.

“Public lands and outdoor recreation are at the intersection of a lot of different career paths,” said Lilly, previously the Executive Director of the Piney Creek Watershed Association. “There’s a whole ecosystem of business and industry that surrounds public lands. As you begin your way through your careers here in West Virginia, public lands can play a vital role in your network and skill set.”

This was the first in a new series of monthly volunteer days hosted by Stewards Individual Placements. These volunteer days aim to promote environmental stewardship and community service and will invite volunteers of all ages to work at a different site in Raleigh County each month. Next month, on October 30, Stewards will partner with the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority to prepare the High Tunnels for autumn planting. Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to RSVP so the hosts can make sure there are enough tools and lunches for everyone: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7QYWXYW

To learn more about Stewards Individual Placements, Appalachian Conservation Corps, and Conservation Legacy, check out their websites at stewardslegacy.org, appalachiancc.org, and conservationlegacy.org


Watershed Organizations Can Serve as a Resource for Envirothon Teams Preparing for the Spring Competition

Every fall, high schools, homeschooling groups, and youth organizations across the state begin forming teams to compete in the WV Envirothon in the coming spring. Many send a team each year, while this may be the first year competing for some. 

Either way, these teams will spend many hours practicing for the hands-on, outdoor competition that tests their knowledge in aquatics, forestry, soils, and wildlife, as well as a current issue that changes each year. 

The top five teams receive cash scholarships--up to $5,000 for the top team!

Other cash awards are handed out for a variety of categories. The winning team also gets to travel to the North American Envirothon Competition in July.

Watershed organizations can play an important role by assisting teams as they practice for the aquatics section of the test. Many, or most, watershed organizations have folks on staff or volunteers with vast experience in watershed management, monitoring, and pollution mitigation activities. These are the core components of the WV Envirothon Aquatics Station test, and team advisors may have limited personal experience with these content areas. 

Teams from recent years:  

If your watershed group is interested in helping a team prepare, please contact the WV Education Committee to learn how you can get involved and connect with, or even sponsor, a team. 

WV Envirothon Website

WV Envirothon Aquatics Study Resources

For more information on team registration and eligibility rules

The following teams have participated in at least one
of the past three West Virginia Envirothon competitions:

Berkeley Springs High School

Braxton County High School

Cabell Midland High School

Calhoun County Middle/High School

Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center

Cameron High School

Clay County High School

Doddridge County High School

Geary Elementary/Middle School

Gilmer County High School

Hampshire Home School

James Monroe High School

Jefferson High School

John Marshall High School


Magnolia High School

Marion County Technical Center

Mineral County Technical Center

Moorefield High School

Mountaineer Challenge Academy

Preston High School

Ravenswood High School

Ritchie County High School

Roane County High School

Shady Spring High School

St Mary’s High School

Tyler Consolidated High School

Webster County High School

Wind Dance Farm and Earth Education Center


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West Virginia Rivers Coalition
3501 MacCorkle Ave SE #129  | Charleston, West Virginia 25304
304-637-7201 | wvrivers@wvrivers.org

The WV WaterNet is made possible through an award of Environmental Protection Agency’s 319 funding awarded to the West Virginia Rivers Coalition by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

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