West Virginia watershed groups honored
For the 14th year, watershed groups from across West Virginia were recognized by the West Virginia Watershed Network for their efforts in protecting and restoring local watersheds.
Over 100 volunteers and resource providers attended Watershed Celebration Day on Sept. 7-8. The event was hosted by the Coal River Group at its Science and Education Center in Tornado. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection was among the sponsors of the event.
The West Virginia Watershed Network is an informal association of interests with a mission to collaboratively support efforts and provide resources necessary to empower local residents to make decisions for sustainable management of their resources.
This year’s Watershed Celebration Day’s theme and program were developed around information on river trails. On Sept. 7, volunteers had the opportunity to paddle the Coal River. Others hiked through the Barnett Conservation Preserve and fished from the banks of the river at Meadowood Park. On Sept. 8, speakers described the process of how to create a river trail. The Watershed Network also recognized 16 watershed groups and one individual for their hard work and commitment in protecting and restoring streams, as well as educating their communities about the importance of watershed protection.
“After all of these years, watershed volunteers are still excited to come out to talk with one another and learn about new programs and projects that they can take home to their watersheds,” said Jennifer Pauer, Watershed Basin coordinator for the DEP. “It is also nice that volunteers get to be recognized in front of their peers for the work they have done all year. These folks volunteer because they care about our natural resources and are willing to give their time for that cause. West Virginia is lucky to have them.”
This year’s highest honor went to the Warm Springs Run Watershed Association from Berkeley Springs. The volunteers were recognized for their ability to create partnerships, to spread the word on how good streams go bad, and their foresight to take a proactive approach by developing a comprehensive watershed restoration plan. The Warm Springs Run Watershed Association was named the 2012 Watershed Association of the Year.
Other Watershed Associations were recognized for their work in the following categories:
• North Fork Watershed Association, Davis
• Plateau Action Network, Fayetteville
• Coal River Group, St. Albans
• Opequon Creek Project Team, Martinsburg
• Sleepy Creek Watershed Association, Berkeley Springs
Outreach and Education
• Buckhannon River Watershed Association, Buckhannon
• Friends of Deckers Creek, Morgantown
• Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River, Alderson
• Greenbrier River Watershed Association, Lewisburg
• Morris Creek Watershed Association, Montgomery
• Piney Creek Watershed Association, Beckley
• Davis Creek Watershed Association, Charleston
• Friends of the Cheat, Kingwood
• Sarah Veselka, Friends of Deckers Creek
In addition to the DEP, sponsors for this year’s event included Dominion Foundation, Chesapeake Energy, Appalachian Coal Country Team, Coal River Group, Evans Insurance Agency Inc., Capitol Conservation District, Eastern Panhandle Conservation District, Elk Conservation District, Greenbrier Valley Conservation District, Guyan Conservation District, Little Kanawha Conservation District, Monongahela Conservation District, Northern Panhandle Conservation District, Potomac Valley Conservation District, Southern Conservation District, Tygarts Valley Conservation District, Upper Ohio Conservation District, West Fork Conservation District, Western Conservation District, National Park Service- Rivers and trails Program, U.S. Office of Surface Mining, West Virginia Conservation Agency, West Virginia Division of Highways, and West Virginia Watershed Resource Center.