WV WaterNet: Watershed Resources and Highlights


Welcome to the Revitilization of the WV WaterNet!

For years, the West Virginia Conservation Agency published the WaterNet through their Watershed Resources Center. When their coordinator left that position, the WaterNet fell by the wayside. Last year, WV Rivers Coalition became the fiscal sponsor of the WV Watershed Network. And now this year, we are proud to announce the revitalization of WaterNet, the quarterly newsletter by and for WV watershed groups!

As we take on this re-vamp of the old newsletter, we want to hear from you, our WV watershed groups. What else do you want to see in this new version? If you have ideas or a project you want to highlight, please contact me at acrowe@wvrivers.org. 


WVDEP Stream Partner Program Awards 2021 Grants

WV Stream Partners Program has awarded the 25th year of funding to support local watershed associations working to improve the streams and rivers in their communities. 

Congratulations and thanks to the 17 applicants. WV has benefited greatly from the years of service provided by watershed volunteers. The 2021 recipients are:  Buckhannon Watershed Association, Coal River Group, Coal River Mountain Watch, Davis Creek Watershed Association, Forks of Coal Natural Area Foundation, Fourpole Creek Watershed Association, Friends of the Blackwater, Friends of Deckers Creek, Friends of the Cacapon River, Friends of the Cheat, Friends of the Hughes River, Friends of the Tug Fork, Greenbrier River Watershed Association, Morris Creek Watershed Association, Piney Creek Watershed Association, Save the Tygart and Warm Springs Watershed Association. The grants range from $1,200 to $5,000. If you would like to get involved with a local watershed association check out their website or  e-mail Jennifer.pauer@wv.gov.

Volunteers from Warm Springs Watershed Association (pictured right) use funding from a Stream Partners grant to expand accessibility to the Windmyer Wetlands and add amenities that increase public awareness of the importance and beauty of this flood prevention area and emphasize how areas of wetland must be protected or mitigated during land use changes.


Sleepy Creek Watershed Association shows Pandemic Perserverance


The watershed volunteers in Morgan County managed to make environmental improvements despite the pandemic last year. Volunteers from Sleepy Creek Watershed Association (SCWA) had three opportunities to plant riparian buffer trees in 2020. Just as they were organizing a 263-tree planting project on one property along the Middle Fork of Sleepy Creek in late March, the COVID-19 stop order for group gatherings was issued. Much to their credit, determination, and perseverance, Steve and Mary Elko (pictured to the left) accomplished the entire planting over the following month.

Then in October, SCWA volunteers, masked and physically-distanced, planted a 59-tree riparian buffer on another property along a tributary of Indian Run paralleling Oakland Road. One of the Morgan County Conservation District Supervisors had prepared the planting holes to make the project go more smoothly.

The other Morgan County Conservation District Supervisor then augured 88 holes on October 26th at the newly completed stream restoration project site on the mainstem of Sleepy Creek.  The following day, 9 COVID-compliant volunteers planted the 88 trees to complete this key project and close out the year for SCWA.  Chuck Marsh, SCWA President, couldn’t say enough about the willingness of these volunteers to help out in challenging times.

And a congratulations to Norman Dean (bottom left) where he is presented with the Watershed Hero award!


The New River Clean Water Alliance is Back!

Something positive for 2020, The New River Clean Water Alliance has been revived. This group of stakeholders in the Lower New Watershed promotes clean water and community efforts in Fayette, Summers and Raleigh County. The Lower New River flows through southern West Virginia and is soon be redesignated from a national river to a national park and preserve. The goal is to improve water quality in the Lower New River and its tributaries to sustain the river’s environmental, cultural, recreational and economic benefits. The alliance provides a strengthen unified voice for clean water in the region and consists of representatives from the New River Conservancy, Piney Creek Watershed Association, National Park Service, Plateau Action Network, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, West Virginia Conservation Agency, Regional Development Council, Active Southern West Virginia, the WV Rivers Coalition, and WV Professional River Outfitters.

The alliances primary focus is on addressing the bacteria issues in the New River and its tributaries. In 2010, the State of the Watershed Report was produced highlighting the need for water quality improvements and how to address them. Ten years later, more water quality data is being collected to see if there are improvements and where efforts need to focus. There are many streams that do not meet the water quality standards in the Lower New regarding bacteria and the major sources are inadequate wastewater infrastructure and agricultural practices.


By combining monitoring efforts to evaluate the current conditions, the next step will be to prioritize streams and support local future infrastructure improvement projects to address the bacteria impairments. Here is a link to the website and where you can view the State of the Watershed Report https://www.newriverconservancy.org/new-river-clean-water-alliance 


Save the Tygart Redevelops Brownfield

The Tygart River flows from Pocahontas County through Randolph, Barbour, Taylor, and Marion Counties to join with the West Fork River to form the Monongahela River in Fairmont. The Middle Fork, Buckhannon River, and Sandy Creek are tributaries. The cities of Elkins, Buckhannon, Philippi, and Grafton all lie within its watershed. It is a big watershed with a small watershed association, Save the Tygart Watershed Association (STTWA), dedicated to protecting, improving, and promoting it.

STTWA was incorporated in 2001 and has partnered with WVDEP on many projects. It has recently taken on a project to change a brownfield into a headquarters.

Carr China was a pottery manufacturing company on the shore of the Tygart River near Tygart Lake Dam. It operated from 1916 to 1952. Old photos of the site show a riverbank covered in pottery shards. The glaze on that pottery contained lead, and that meant the site was not safe. In 2009, WVDEP requested help with the site from the EPA, which removed most of the waste, but a final site assessment, which would prove that the site was safe, was never performed.

STTWA visited the site and imagined what it could be. The group saw a park with a headquarters and laboratory building, nature trails, a fishing pier, a boat launch, and a performance area with seating for the audience. But how does one get from here to there?

The group contacted Taylor County and the Northern West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center (NBAC) for help. NBAC led them through many steps, including Phase I and II assessments, transfer of the property from the County to STTWA, and an application to EPA for a Brownfields Clean-Up Grant. They got it!

The grant allowed STTWA to hire a consultant to take the property through WVDEP’s Voluntary Remediation Program. They started with more site assessment to fill in some gaps. They will now assess risk from any residual toxic substances, design a plan to reduce those risks, and finally work with STTWA to hire a contractor to carry out that plan.

STTWA is now looking for every possible opportunity and resource to take the next steps: constructing the park they envisioned in the first place.


Grant Corner: National Coal Heritage Area Accepting Applications

The National Coal Heritage Area Authority has issued a request for proposals for grants for projects in their area.

The grants must fit in one of the following categories: Interpretation and Heritage Programming, Historic Preservation and Resource Stewardship, Archives and Historical Record Collection, Greenways, Public Parks and Non-motorized Trails, Educational Activities and Events, and Marketing and Promotion.

The projects must be within the following counties: Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne, Wyoming and the Paint Creek and Cabin Creek watersheds in Kanawha County.

Approximately $150,000 has been allocated for this round of grants. The deadline for receipt of grant applications is 4:00 pm on Friday, March 19, 2021.

Learn more on their website: National Coal Heritage Area/Coal Heritage Trail

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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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