WV WaterNet: Summer Edition
NEW TOOL FOR WATERSHED GROUPS
WV Stream Watch App can help document pollution issues and restoration needs.
WV Rivers and Trout Unlimited, with funding from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, have developed a smart phone enabled Stream Watch App! The App is a quick and effective tool to document erosion and sedimentation, water quality impacts, and habitat issues.
Watershed Groups and their members can easily submit photos of water pollution or habitat degradation. The photographic data will populate an interactive map that will inform follow-up on enforcement actions or restoration needs.
For instruction on how to download and use the WV Stream Watch App, including a training video and written instructions, click here.
Contact Autumn Crowe, firstname.lastname@example.org, if your group is intersted in conducting a watershed-scale assessment with the Stream Watch App.
Rising Ninth Graders from Upshur County Explore Old Oak Run with WV Save Our Streams
As part of a summer learning program with Upshur County schools, rising ninth graders from Buckhannon-Upshur High School took part in a field day at the West Virginia Wildlife Center this June.
The educational and fun-filled day included discussions with WVDNR Fisheries and WVDNR Law Enforcement professionals, a tour with the WV Wildlife Center Director and a WV Division of Forestry AmeriCorps member, and concluded with a mini stream survey with the WVDEP’s Save Our Streams coordinator.
Participating students learned about careers in natural resources fields, and experienced first hand how water quality is assessed by WVDEP and by volunteers. The students conducted a partial stream assessment using the Save Our Streams protocol, including the opportunity to collect, identify, and analyze benthic macroinvertebrate populations in the stream.
The mission of WV Save Our Streams is to promote the preservation and restoration of our state's waters by providing an understanding of their ecological integrity. This mission is accomplished by conducting workshops and training volunteers on how to monitor their local wadeable streams and rivers.
Anyone in West Virginia is welcome to participate in the WV Save Our Streams program by attending a training workshop, completing the certification exam, and monitoring a stream in their community watershed. Visit dep.wv.gov/sos for more information and to register for an upcoming workshop!
APPALACHIAN CONSERVATION CORPS LAUNCHES NEW JOB READINESS OPPORTUNITY FOR RALEIGH COUNTY YOUTH
Youth crew will teach teens about conservation work and careers with the National Park Service.
A new job readiness opportunity is coming to Beckley teens this summer. The Beckley Youth Day Crew, a collaboration between Stewards Individual Placements and Appalachian Conservation Corps, invites Raleigh County youth aged 16-18 to gain firsthand experience with conservation initiatives and national service over their summer break.
“This Youth Crew is an opportunity for youth and young adults in the Beckley community to connect with the land and the amazing natural resources across our area,” says Michelle Marsich, Associate Program Director of Appalachian Conservation Corps. “Participating in a crew enables students to earn money, meet new people, and learn about different career paths in conservation.”
The youth crew is a paid entry-level position that will run in shifts between mid-June and the beginning of August. While prior experience working outdoors may be helpful, the position also offers newcomers to conservation the chance to learn. Participating youth will join experienced crew members for four weeks and assist on projects around Beckley and New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. This summer’s projects will include trail construction and maintenance, improvements to recreation access, and habitat improvement. Participants will learn about the local environment and issues affecting it.
“Nation service work is a great connector—whether providing support to our city, planting trees, litter clean ups, or supporting youth development, everyone wins,” says April Elkins-Badtke, Corps Director of Stewards Individual Placements. “This summer, we hope to teach young people of Raleigh County that when they share their treasures of time and talent, they can impact their community and leave a legacy for those who follow them.”
Conservation Legacy is a national organization dedicated to supporting locally based conservation service programs. As programs of Conservation Legacy, Appalachian Conservation Corps and Stewards Individual Placements provide individuals with service and career opportunities to strengthen communities and preserve our natural resources. Participants work with federal agencies, tribal governments, and nonprofits building institutional capacity, developing community relationships, and supporting ecosystem health.
“Despite the pandemic-related difficulties of my service term, I've learned so much this past year about operating a nonprofit and contributing to national service efforts, and I'm thrilled to be assisting with the planning and introduction of our first youth day-crew,” says Mary Zook-Tapolyai, AmeriCorps VISTA for Appalachian Conservation Corps. “I hope that this new crew model will draw applicants who are interested in careers in conservation but may not have extensive outdoor experience.”
Every year, 75,000 AmeriCorps members serve through more than 20,000 schools, nonprofits, and community and faith-based organizations across the country. These citizens have played a critical role in the recovery of communities affected by natural disasters. They also tutor and mentor young people, connect veterans to jobs, care for seniors, reduce crime and revive cities, fight the opioid epidemic, and meet other critical needs. The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency responsible for AmeriCorps, marked the 25th anniversary of the program last fall, saluting the more than 1.1 million Americans who have pledged to “get things done” since the program’s inception in 1994. Together, they have provided more than 1.6 billion hours of service and earned $4 billion in education scholarships to pay for college or pay back student loans.
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
Piney Creek Stream Restoration Project at Woodrow Wilson High School
Piney Creek Watershed Association has begun construction of a stream restoration project at Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, WV. This unnamed drainage flows into the Cranberry Creek of Piney Creek.
Partnering with the Raleigh County Board of Education, NRCS, WVDEP, EPA, Beckley Sanitary Board, and Beckley Area Foundation this project is designed to address bacteria sources by removing the pond and restoring the drainage to a more natural channel. Funding was provided by the EPA 319 Clean Water Act Funds, Beckley Area Foundation and WVDEP’s Water Quality Management Funds.
The first phase of the project was conducted in April to dewater the pond. The dam was breached and partnering with WVDNR, WVCA and FWS approximately 100lbs of fish were captured and relocated to a nearby farm pond. There were also domesticated white ducks living at the pond and they were safely relocated to a private pond in Wyoming County.
Phase 2 of this project is to construct a stream channel, daylight a segment downstream of the pond and install log rollers and native plantings along the new stream. Students will grow the plants at the WVU Tech campus and plant this fall. The Academy of Careers and Technology students will be constructing a walking bridge to cross the stream. This very visible project has many partners and the opportunity to become a wonderful outdoor learning space for the students at Woodrow Wilson.
Learn more about Piney Creek's stream restoration projects at Outdoor Recreation | Piney Creek | West Virginia (pineycreekwatershed.org)
Claudia L. Workman Wildlife Education Center Nearing Completion
Jack and Claudia Workman loved their 300 acres at the forks of Coal River and wanted to preserve it in a natural state. They explored many options for protection over several years. After Claudia passed on in 2014 Jack worked out a plan to honor her memory by donating 102 acres at the confluence of the Big and Little Coal Rivers to the State of West Virginia. The land will be used for wildlife education and habitat conservation. The WV DNR would build a wildlife education center and it would be named the Claudia L. Workman Wildlife Education Center (the Center).
The land is now known as the Forks of Coal State Natural Area, and it provides habitat for a wide variety of native species of plants and animals, including black bear. There is a forest with mature hardwood trees, a vernal pond, a meadow, more than 3 miles of trails and a two-acre pollinator field being developed with native wildflowers and grasses. Bat houses, a bluebird box and a chimney swift tower are found on the landscape. Interpretive signage and more bluebird houses are planned.
The Center itself will soon house about $1 million worth of specially designed exhibits featuring animals that were extinct or nearly extirpated from the state and are being restored through the DNR’s scientific wildlife management. Other exhibits will include a wing featuring forest ecology, champions of conservation, live reptiles and amphibians and a 1,500-gallon aquarium with native Coal River watershed fishes. Another wing of the building will house a forest ecology exhibit, and stream restoration displays. A spacious classroom and an outdoor amphitheater will provide for group presentations and training.
The Forks of Coal State Natural Area Foundation in cooperation with the WV DNR will provide educational programs and activities for students and adults who want to learn more about nature. The Center is expected to open this fall, perhaps as early as September. This year’s events will include a floating nature “hike” on Coal River, a nature scavenger hunt and a First Day Hike in addition to the opening of the Center.
Learn more at Forks of Coal Foundation – To preserve, protect, and enhance the Forks of Coal State Natural Area
The Winners of the Virtual Envirothon Competition...Mineral Couny FFA!
The Mineral County Future Farmers of America (FFA) team won the 2021 West Virginia Envirothon. Mineral’s team of five high school students competed against nine other teams to win this year’s Envirothon event, which is the state’s premiere conservation competition for high school students. Led by Mineral County FFA Adviser Julie Sions, the team includes students John Bittinger, Lara Bittinger, Rachael Brinkman, Robby Moncrief and Sarah Sions.
Five-member teams who participate in the Envirothon explore current environmental and earth sciences within the framework of five disciplines: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and a current environmental topic known as the "fifth topic." This year's fifth topic was “Water Resource Management: Local Control and Local Solutions.”
Julie Sions said her team was able to get together in her classroom at the Mineral County Technical Center to hear the results during the virtual awards ceremony on Friday. “We’re walking on cloud nine,” she said. “This is pretty spectacular for us.” Sions has coached three teams to second-place finishes in the Envirothon. This is Mineral County FFA’s first overall team win.
For the first year ever, Envirothon moved from a hands-on competition to a virtual format to administer the testing. Teams took the tests at their schools in most cases on April 15th and 16th and also submitted videos for the fifth topic, which has traditionally been performed live in front of a panel of judges. The Mineral County FFA team shares a $5,000 scholarship and will move on to participate in the 2021 NCF-Envirothon national competition, which will also be virtual this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It will be held July 25-28.
The other teams finishing in the top five were: Waterpennies, from Berkeley Springs High School in Morgan County, in second place; a team from Moorefield High School in Hardy County in third place; a Hampshire County team of home school students in fourth place; and the Braxton County FFA team in fifth place. Teams also were rewarded for finishing with the top score in each of the five “stations,” including soils, aquatics, forestry, wildlife and the fifth topic. Mineral County FFA won aquatics, wildlife and shared the top fifth topic award with Clay FFA. The Hampshire team took the top score in soils and Braxton County FFA was best in forestry. The Mavericks team from James Monroe High School won the Rookie Team Award for scoring the highest among new teams, while Mineral County FFA won the FFA Team Award for the highest-scoring FFA team.
In all, students, advisers and their schools received nearly $22,000 in scholarship money this year. The other teams participating in the 2021 West Virginia Envirothon were: Magnolia FFA, Ritchie County FFA, and the Tyler Consolidated High School team. “It was a very unusual year, due to COVID, and we’d like to thank all the teachers, all the students, all the sponsors, and the Envirothon Committee, for making this a tremendous event,” said West Virginia Envirothon Committee Chairman Wayne McKeever. “We had 10 fantastic teams that participated in this Envirothon. I’ve heard from a few teams, and they sincerely enjoyed the Envirothon this year, even though it was a little different.”
Sponsors for the 2021 West Virginia Envirothon include Weyerhaeuser, Dominion Energy, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the West Virginia Conservation Agency, MPLX, the Northern Panhandle Conservation District, Toyota, the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Association of Conservation Districts Auxiliary. The West Virginia Envirothon Committee hopes to return to a hands-on competition in 2022, at Cacapon Resort State Park in Morgan County.
West Virginia Rivers Coalition
3501 MacCorkle Ave SE #129 | Charleston, West Virginia 25304
304-637-7201 | email@example.com
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.