FOC Notes the 40th Anniversary of the Surface Mining Reclamation & Control Act

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“Rebirth has begun, but there is more work to be done” 

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2016 Photo of the mouth of AMD impacted Muddy Creek.

 

Thursday, August 3rd marks the 40th anniversary of our country’s landmark coal mining law, the Surface Mining Reclamation & Control Act, known commonly as SMCRA (pronounced “smak-rah”).  SMCRA was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on this day in 1977.  SMCRA regulates the environmental effects of coal mining and its passage created the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE).  OSMRE develops regulations, funds state regulatory and reclamation efforts, and oversees individual state regulatory programs.  SMCRA also created two programs, the abandoned mine land program for reclamation of mined sites initiated before 1977 and a second program to regulate active coal mining.

Cheat River AMLs

NOTE: 111 unabated AMLs out of 358 in Cheat – over two-thirds of the abandoned mine lands identified in the Cheat River watershed have yet to be cleaned up.

 

OSMRE was one of FOC’s first partners in the River of Promise.  OSMRE continues to support FOC’s restoration efforts in the Cheat River watershed through ROP engagement and acid mine drainage remediation project funding through the OSMRE Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program. FOC also works closely with the state programs created by SMCRA, WVDEP’s Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation (OAMLR) and Office of Special Reclamation (OSR).

Partners in the River of Promise rely on funds provided by SMCRA to continue remediation of the 342 acid mine drainage seeps emanating from abandoned mine lands in the Cheat River watershed. Significant progress has been made in the last 40 years to restore life to the Cheat River, yet there is more work to be done. Without reauthorization of SMCRA in 2022, all the progress that has been fought for so hard for could be lost.

 

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AMD pouring out of Lick Run Portals

 


Happy West Virginia Day from the Cheat River!

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Happy West Virginia Day from the Majestic Cheat River and Friends of the Cheat!  As West Virginians, we know that one of the most wonderful aspects of our state is the grandeur of our rivers and forests.  We rely on the health of our water sources and the agencies that protect them.  FOC is proud to report that after 23 years of hard work – the Cheat River is reborn and booming!  

FOC is focused on more than water monitoring; we aim to encourage the public to experience the beauty of our historic waterway for themselves, on the Cheat River Water Trail.  FOC and the Cheat River Water Trail (CRWT) Committee hosted two “Meet the Cheat” paddling events in early June, both with attendance numbers doubling, nearly tripling, since 2016.  Collectively, over 300 participants enjoyed the scenic beauty of the Cheat River Water Trail.   

On June 3rd, 2017, National Trails Day, FOC and CRWT hosted the 2nd annual Preston County Meet the Cheat paddling event in Rowlesburg, WV.  A record 83 attendees floated 3.2 miles from Riverview Lounge to the Rowlesburg Park, where the were met with a complimentary picnic catered by the Rowlesburg Park, and live music by Paul Burger.  Registration fees for the first 25 participants needing boats and gear were free, thanks to a generous donation from the Preston County Parks and Recreation Commission.  Kayaks and canoes were provided by Blackwater Outdoor Adventures (BOA), along with paddling gear and a free shuttle from the Rowlesburg Park to the put-in.  

On June 10th, 2017, FOC and the CRWT partnered for the second year with the West Virginia Land Trust and Blackwater Outdoor Adventures to host the 5th annual Tucker County Meet the Cheat paddling event.  This year – an astonishing 230 registered participants took to the Cheat River to float from the newly renovated Holly Meadows public access point to St. George, nearly 8 miles.  The record set in 2016 was just over 100 paddlers.  At the post paddle party at BOA, participants enjoyed donated salads from White Grass Cafe, pizza and wings from CJ’s Pizzeria, and homemade goodies by CRWT committee members Dave and Pam Ruediger and Janet Preston.  Live music was provided by members of the LocalMotive, a Davis-based trio.  CRWT volunteer extraordinaire Janet Preston collected prizes for a donation-based raffle from many local businesses.  

FOC and the CRWT are beyond pleased with the level of public participation at both events! The Meet the Cheats are the main fundraisers for the CRWT; money raised at the events are used to maintain and improve public access points, print maps and brochures, and fund CRWT merchandise.  The goal of these events are to introduce the public to the fantastic recreational value of the river in their backyard, and bring communities together in celebration of our public spaces.  The Cheat River is just one of many gems in our great state – so show your pride in our home this week by visiting your favorite spot of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia!


Public Lands are “Priceless” – by Matt Kearns

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photo by Adam Webster - at the confluence of Otter Creek and Dry Fork, Mon National Forest

photo by Adam Webster

On the first day of the 115th Congress, the House of Representatives passed budget rules that included a provision devaluing public lands. By assigning no value to federal property, Congress has potentially greased the skids for transferring public lands to state or private control — those transactions would now be considered “budget neutral.” Dolly Sods. Seneca Rocks. Cranberry Wilderness. According to the House, with support from all three West Virginia Representatives, these iconic landscapes are deemed worthless.

Really?

Our federal public lands have already been bought and paid for by the taxpayer. Look no further than our mountains and rivers for examples. The Monongahela National Forest was created from owners willing to sell logged-out property so the government could rehabilitate the land. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has supported over $182 million in purchases, including access along the Gauley and New Rivers and wetlands in Canaan Valley. As the result of foresighted actions like these, every American is now a shareholder in over 620 million acres of public land.

These public lands are big business. Congress commissioned a study to understand the value of outdoor recreation, currently estimated at $646 billion. Public land is at the heart of that economy; after all, who would buy new boots or boats if they have nowhere to use them? In state, the Monongahela National Forest supports 1.3 million visitors that spend approximately $82 million dollars annually. The New River Gorge National River provides another $53 million to the local economy. There is likely even more tangible value in the “ecosystem services” offered by public lands: much of West Virginia’s drinking water originates in the headwaters of the Monongahela National Forest — over 300,000 thousand people get their drinking water from the Elk River alone.

The return on our investment in public lands goes far beyond dollars and cents. A rafting trip with friends, a hike with a pet, a day spent hunting and fishing with our children — how can you quantify the value of those experiences and the feelings that linger long after? Or the connectedness and sense of place that public lands offer?  The “Mon” serves as a common denominator among hunters, birders, boaters, fishers, campers, RV towers, bikers, hikers, and climbers. We may enjoy the land in different ways, but every Mountaineer loves and takes pride in our public lands, the most “Wild and Wonderful” part about living in West Virginia.

The new budget rule isn’t the only attack on the integrity of public lands. Bills have been introduced to allow states to seize two million acres of national forests so long

as logging is the priority (HR 3650 & HR 2316). Transferring control of and developing public land is the stated platform of the party that now leads all three branches of government. Congress may very well have taken the first step in a widespread public lands divestment.

Loss of federal ownership could be detrimental to public land users like you and me. Federal lands are managed with mandatory public input and “multiple use” provisions that value clean water and recreation alongside timber and minerals. States often have different priorities. Western sportsmen have found themselves shut out of state lands following profit minded sell-offs. Because the West Virginia state legislature is prohibited from passing a deficit, selling or developing state land could become a quick fix for our financial woes. Mineral rights have been auctioned off beneath some of our Wildlife Management Areas.

President Trump has said we need to be stewards of public lands and it’s not something that should be sold. His pick for Secretary of the Interior, Rep. Ryan Zinke, is an avid sportsman who has spoken out against selling public lands — but he voted for the new budget rule. All Representatives from West Virginia voted in favor of it too. We must hold our leadership accountable. Tell them to protect our public lands from sale or transfer.

Because worthless and priceless are far from the same thing.

Matt Kearns is a veteran and avid outdoorsman. He travelled the length of the Elk River in 2015 to promote the connection between the Monongahela National Forest and our drinking water. Matt is a natural resources graduate student at WVU and works on public lands issues for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition. the Elk River alone.

Addendum:

Just weeks after Congress passed a provision making it easier to sell off public lands, a move to do just that was put forth by US Representative Jason Chaffetz (UT). H.R. 621, Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, called for the disposal of 3.3 million acres of land for sale to non-federal entities.

The public outcry was enormous.  Thousands of people called their representatives and took to social media to express their outrage and rallied in opposition to the bill.  Thanks to the huge numbers of engaged, outspoken public opponents, in less than one week Chaffetz posted on Instagram his withdrawal of H.R. 621.

This victory is just one example of what can happen when citizens rally together and speak out; our voices are heard, and we can protect what cannot protect itself.  This will not be the only time we need to rally for our public lands, or for our water, etc.  We must remain vigilant and alert.  Here are a few ways to stay engaged.

Sign up for WV Rivers Coalition e-news (state and Federal updates, action alerts):  http://www.wvrivers.org/make-a-difference/join-us

Sign up for WV Environmental Council e-news (WV updates, action alerts):  http://wvecouncil.org/action-alerts-signup/

Join Friends of the Cheat and other groups for E-Day February 27th at the WV Capitol.

Join the March for Science on Earth Day,  April 22.  https://marchforscience.com

Contact your representatives:

US House: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

US Senate:  https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/


Reflecting on the successes of 2016 – and looking forward to 2017!

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Since 1994, Friends of Cheat has been working to fulfill its mission of restoring, preserving, and promoting the outstanding natural qualities of the Cheat River watershed.  As a supporter of our organization, you may wonder exactly what that means.  The quick answer is that without your support – your financial contributions, your volunteering, your help spreading the word about our work – without you, our mission would mean very little.  Our successes, our needs, and the river we all love – depend on your help.  Conversely, this mission is a reflection of the many achievements Friends of Cheat can accomplish with your support.

Over the years, the backing and financial contributions of supporters like you has ultimately allowed our organization to expand its programming and make impactful on-the-ground improvements in the watershed.  Today, because of you, we are engaged in all the core actions of our mission statement.

In just the last year, your financial contributions have helped Friends of the Cheat:

  • Continue maintenance and data collection at nearly 30 water treatment sites throughout the watershed by our expert team of water monitoring staff.

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  • Work with the WV State Rail Authority to purchase 8 miles of rail corridor from CSX for development into a non-motorized rail-trail along the Cheat River Narrows.  Also – the Cheat River Rail-Trail was awarded $150,000 for the first phase of design and construction!

 

  • Raise over $6000 through our Whitewater Access Campaign – which payed for repairs along Bull Run Rd.

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  • Promote Cheat River recreation with a very successful Cheat River Festival – save the date for the 2017 Cheat River Festival 1.5 – May 5th-6th – tickets available now!

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  • Organize the largest group of paddlers to float the river through the Meet the Cheat events.

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  • Build restroom facilities at the Doug Ferris Outdoor Classroom for Cheat Canyon paddlers, Allegheny Trail hikers.

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  • Partner with the WV Adventure Program and engage over 230 students in volunteer service work – resulting in $12,661 of inkind matched funds for our BSROP grant.

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  • Raise over $13,000 for the 2016 Run For It 5k in Davis, WV – and come in 3rd in most funds raised.

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  • Support the FOC CAPABLE program by raising over $3000 on #GivingTuesday.

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Other reasons 2016 rocked – FOC/DEPP partnership has been renewed for another 3 years!  We hired a new technician, Brian Hurley – as Jeremy Sidebottom left to further his education and travel the world.  FOC was named Top Water Conservation Group in the Southeast by Blue Ridge Outdoors.  

And best of all – The Cheat River was one of 2016 EPA 319 Success Stories – declaring the Cheat River “reborn!”  


EPA Cheat River Success Stories

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) featured the Friends of the Cheat and the Cheat River in a handful of publications in 2016.   John Capacasa, Director of the Water Protection Division in EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, wrote a blog piece reminiscing about his experiences padding the Cheat 30 years ago, and highlighting the successful “rebirth” of the Cheat River.  Even before the blowout in 1994, he remembers the discoloration of the river in sections.  He writes, “Though these were difficult days for the river, thanks to years of Clean Water Act funding and the cleanup efforts of a local non-profit group, the state and others, the raging waters of the Cheat today represent a major success story.  The orange scour still remains in spots, but the mainstem of the river has been restored – serving once again as a haven for whitewater rafting and smallmouth bass fishing.”  You can read the blog in it’s entirety here.

The EPA also issued a one page pdf in June – emphasizing the “dramatic” recovery of the Cheat River since 2000.

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Just last week, the EPA’s National NonPoint Source Program report was released – with Friends of the Cheat listed as one of the “Faces of Success.”  You can read the entire report here.

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Run For It

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Support FOC’s Team at the Run For It! 5K race

 

Help FOC bring home the cash at the Tucker Community Foundation’s annual Run for It race.  This year’s 5K race and 2K walk is Saturday, September 26 in Davis, West Virginia during the Leaf Peeper Festival.

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It’s fun and easy. You can enjoy a walk around the scenic town or join the competitive 5K race. No matter the pace, every step helps our cause. FOC is looking for runners, walkers, and sponsors. More than 100 cash awards – with over $80,000 up for grabs – will benefit our organization’s mission.

Help FOC Make a Big Splash!

Be a sponsor. Just Give Us 5! $5 that is, to help us reach our sponsorship goal of $1,500. In the fundraising world, there is no better return on investment, for every $5 you donate we have the chance to turn it into $15! Download the donation form below and submit to the Tucker Community Foundation.

If you are looking to add a little adrenaline rush to your donation or would like to participate in the 2K walk, you are welcome to join on our team as a true Friend of the Cheat!  Download the race registration below and join the FOC squad. Before you come down, check out the course map and read Executive Director Amanda Pitzer’s interview in the Tucker Community Foundation Annual Report.

Helpful Links:

For team sponsors

For online donations:  https://raceroster.com/events/2015/4874/run-for-it/charity/donate

For paper donation form:  http://www.tuckerfoundation.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2015-RFI-Team-Sponsor-Request.pdf

For racer entry

For online registration: https://raceroster.com/events/2015/4874

For paper entry form:  http://www.tuckerfoundation.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015-RFI-Entry-Form.pdf

 

Look at all the fun we had last year!

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For every FOC racer registration, FOC gets half of the entrance fee, so bring your friends and family!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


New Trail Property Purchased in Preston County

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Finally!  A big win for FOC’s Preston Rail-Trail Committee!

For Immediate Release – April 7, 2015

Today, project partners Preston County Parks and Recreation Commission (PCPaRC) and Friends of the Cheat (FOC) announced that ten miles of the former West Virginia Northern railroad corridor between Kingwood and Tunnelton has been purchased for conversion into a rail-trail.

Funding for the property acquisition was provided by the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program administered by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways; the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust; and, the West Virginia Division of Tourism.  The property and associated trail rights were purchased from Utah-based Kern Valley Railroad which acquired the railroad in 2000 following the closure of the stakeholder-operated Kingwood Northern tourist train.

Since 2002, a group of volunteers known as the Preston Rail-Trail Committee (PRTC) has worked persistently and patiently on developing rail-trails on three corridors in Preston County, and this purchase marks the group’s first rail-trail acquisition.  In 2011, FOC took action to bring attention and resources to other aspects of the project.  These efforts resulted in a wave of activity:  the century old water tower was listed as a historic Endangered Property by Preservation Alliance of West Virginia; funding and technical support from the West Virginia Northern Brownfields Assistance Center supported the development of conceptual revitalization plans for the former railcar maintenance facility near the water tower; and Stan Hostler donated 2.5 acres of property adjacent to the water tower and trail.  The emergence of the Preston County Parks and Recreation Commission as a partner represents the project’s final keystone because their willingness to own and manage the trail allows the project to come to fruition.

“The West Virginia Northern Rail-Trail is exactly the type of endeavor the Preston County Parks and Recreation Commission was formed to support.  The rail-trail will link two communities and provide a new outdoor space for free, low-impact exercise.” explains PCPaRC President Lynn Housner.  PCPaRC Commissioner Paul Martin believes the new rail-trail will also “enhance existing recreation opportunities offered at the Craig Civic Center and local schools in both Kingwood and Tunnelton.”

PCPaRC and FOC are ready to hit the trail running, and they have the funds to do so.  The Recreational Trails program has granted the project team an additional $420,000 for rail-trail design and construction.  With support from the Division of Highways, design will commence immediately with construction slated for 2016.  A ground breaking event is being planned for this summer.

The groups will fundraise for additional rail-trail construction and maintenance funds.  On Saturday, May 2nd PRTC will host the 11th annual Cheat Fest 5K with proceeds benefitting rail-trail projects in Preston County.  Sign up to participate at http://cheatfest.org/activities-2/5k/

PRTC is eager to get more community members involved.  The group meets the first Monday of each month at 5pm at the FOC offices in Kingwood.  Learn more at www.cheat.org/recreation/trails.


An Interview with Bob McVicker, Chief Operator, Kingwood Water Treatment Plant

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Bob McVicker

Bob McVicker, Kingwood Treatment Plant Chief Operator

Robert McVicker is the Chief Operator at the Kingwood Water Treatment and Filtration Plant on Route 72 downstream of the Cheat River Narrows.  He has been keeping Kingwood’s drinking water looking clear and tasting clean since 2002.  He recently received the Perkins-Boynton Award from the West Virginia American Water Works Association for exemplary operations in systems with more than 1,000 customers. Also, in 2011 and 2012 he received the Area Wide Optimization Award for outstanding efforts toward optimizing filter plant performance.  Before pursuing a career in drinking water treatment, Robert operated and maintained nuclear power reactors on Navy submarines and power plants.

Bob, where does our water in Kingwood come from?  Do we have a backup supply?

Kingwood’s water comes from the Cheat River.  The Cheat always has water, even in a drought.  We have a high water in-take and a low-water in-take.  When the water is really low in the river – to the point where you can walk across it on rocks, we can still get water from underneath the riverbed.  We don’t have a backup water supply right now, but I would like to explore putting in a well as a backup system.

Can you briefly explain how the water is treated?  Is it easy work?

First we pump the water to a distribution box where we inject chemicals to counteract the charged particles present in the water so that the particles can clump together and settle out.  The solids settle in two outdoor clarifier tanks which do the majority of the work.  Then the water flows through carbon filters to polish it off.  Then we add some chlorine to keep it clean while it’s flowing through the water system and while we pump it to one of four holding tanks in Kingwood.

We currently only have two operators so we work on average one 12 ½ hour shift per day, and switch who works every other weekend.  We produce water 12 hours every day and shut down at night.  It is not easy work.

Pringle Run, Lick Run, and Heather Run flow into the Cheat upstream of the water intake.  Does the acid mine drainage present in those stream affect the drinking water quality?

We are lucky that the AMD in those streams have about 1 mile in the Cheat before reaching the water in-takes.  The pH is already back up after about 100 yards below the confluence.  The volume of the Cheat is so large that even with a low alkalinity number it has sufficient alkalinity that it cleans the water before it even gets to us.  The solids from the metals settle out before it gets to us.  In fact, some extra solids coming into the system helps me treat the water because when more solids stick together, they become heavier and settle to the bottom of the clarifier tanks easier.

Charleston chemical spill.  How has it affected your job?  Could it happen here?

We already have a source water protection plan (SWPP).  We test for pH, conductivity and temperature continually with online monitors provided by RAIN (river alert information network) of which we are a member.  Now that we have to comply with SB 373, we must make some changes to the SWPP, but we will have a hard time coming up with the money and the time to do it.  The point is to determine specific parameters to monitor for according to the specific point sources present upstream.

Here, we need to keep an eye out for trucks and cars that may enter the river near the Rolwesburg bridges.  But if they spill a fuel, often it will float on the surface, and then we will start pumping from our underground water in-take if we need to.  The main thing is to just be conscientious.  We use common sense in those scenarios.

Has there ever been an unpredicted event affecting water quality at the plant?

From time to time we issue a boil water advisory, but that is not due to source water contamination.  It is usually due to a break in a water line, so there is a potential for contamination.  It is more of a precautionary step until we repair the pipes.

Most things can be treated, but it’s hard to treat water without electricity. We have to worry most about Mother Nature – she will kick your butt!

Sometimes it smells bad when driving by the treatment plant.  Why is that?

The wastewater treatment plan is right next to us, but it is not possible for the poop to contaminate our drinking water because that effluent discharges into Morgan Run which enters the Cheat downstream of our in-takes.   We have even altered the bed of the Cheat to make sure no water from Morgan Run gets near our in-takes.

Do you recreate in the Cheat River?  What is your favorite thing about the Cheat River?

I fish for trout in the Cheat, but often I don’t have the time!  I work on average 11 to 13 hours a day at the plant.

It’s a good river – we have good raw materials to work with.  The river is a living, dynamic system that changes regardless of the weather.  That keeps it very interesting.

What’s in store for the future of the Kingwood Plant?

There is always room for improvement.  This place has a lot of potential, but improvements cost money that we often don’t have.   We have good facilities and equipment here – I wouldn’t have stayed here this long if we didn’t.  I always do above-average work, or I don’t do it.

Thanks for sharing with us, Bob.

By: Kevin Ryan


Important (and Awesome!) Changes to Kroger Giving Program

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Since 2011, Friends of the Cheat has participated in Kroger’s community giving program.  We are excited to announce that the Gift Card method (Kroger Cares) has been eliminated and a much more user-friendly program has been instated.  It is now easier than ever to give back to FOC just by buying groceries and gas like you usually do!  For every $1 you spend, FOC gets $0.05 back.  Therefore, $100 in groceries = $5 to FOC…and these rewards can add up fast!

You need a Kroger Plus card to enroll in the program.  Friends of the Cheat’s organizational ID is 83139.

TO USE THE KROGER COMMUNITY REWARDS PROGRAM:

  • Register online at krogercommunityrewards.com with your Kroger Plus card on hand.  If you do not yet have a Kroger Plus card, they are available at the customer service desk at any Kroger.
  • Click on Sign In/Register
  • Most participants are new online customers, so click on SIGN UP TODAY in the ‘New Customer?’ box.
  • Sign up for a Kroger Rewards Account by entering zip code, clicking on favorite store, entering your email address and creating a password, agreeing to the terms and conditions
  • You will then get a message to check your email inbox and click on the link within the body of the email.
  • Click on My Account and use your email address and password to proceed to the next step.
  • Click on Edit Kroger Community Rewards information and input your Kroger Plus card number.
  • Update or confirm your information.
  • Enter FOC’s number 83139 or name and click on confirm.
  • To verify you are enrolled correctly, you will see your organization’s name on the right side of your information page.
  • REMEMBER, purchases will not count for your group until after your member(s) register their card(s).
  • Do you use your phone number at the register?  Call 800-576-4377, select option 4 to get your Kroger Plus card number.
  • Members must swipe their registered Kroger Plus card or use the phone number that is related to their registered Kroger Plus card when shopping for each purchase to count.

Cheat Canyon Preserved!

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Cheat Canyon near High Falls, photo credit Kent Mason

Cheat Canyon near High Falls, photo credit Kent Mason

Friends of the Cheat is thrilled to announce that 3,836 acres of the iconic Cheat River Canyon have been purchased by The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy for preservation, and ultimately, public use and enjoyment! Their action will protect a seven-mile stretch of the Cheat River, and most of the Canyon not already included in Cooper’s Rock State Forest and Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area. Finally, after 20 years and a few unsuccessful attempts, the land will now be protected forever!

The Canyon has been a target for conservation since 1976. The Nature Conservancy has identified the Cheat River as one of the most ecologically intact rivers in the Central Appalachians. There are no dams in the Cheat River main stem and none of the watershed’s major tributaries are dammed. The river is connected to a well-forested floodplain, and the vast majority of the watershed’s headwaters are part of the Monongahela National Forest complex.

FOC is hopeful that this is a step towards reviving commercial interest in the Canyon’s world-class whitewater, and, at some time in the future, re-opening the section of the Allegheny Trail that runs through the Canyon. The Allegheny Trail is 330 mile north-south trail through WV, which connects to the Appalachian Trail at the VA-WV border.

When complete, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will manage all 3,800 acres as a component of its Wildlife Management Area system and as a complement to the complex of public recreation lands on the lower Cheat River.

This accomplishment is a landmark event for all parties involved over the last two decades. Kudos to the staff at The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy, and specifically Rodney Bartgis and Beth Wheatley who have engaged FOC throughout this project’s long, bumpy road. FOC looks forward to the next leg of this exciting journey.

What is your vision for the Cheat River Canyon? Tell us by emailing foc@cheat.org with the subject line, Canyon Vision.

Stay up to date on this story and all FOC news by joining our e-mail list.  Go to www.cheat.org and use the sign up window in the top right corner of the page.

Press on this historic sale:

The Charleston Gazette article includes a really neat flyover of the property in Google Earth

The Dominion Post free source

Wheeling Intelligencer


WV Division of Land Restoration & Friends of the Cheat Partnership Pilot Project launch

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DEP Pilot Project Team Coordinator Owen Mulkeen gives the scoop on FOC’s exciting new collaboration:

The season change is in full swing as temperatures drop and leaves turn fiery red and yellow. Fall is everyone’s favorite season: energy is high as harvest time draws near and opportunities for outdoor pursuits abound. Likewise, excitement is brewing at Friends of the Cheat as we inaugurate a large scale service project in partnership with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. Hard work from the staff at FOC and the WVDEP Division of Land Restoration over the past year and a half is finally coming to fruition. In August, FOC hired four full-time staff members to create the WV Division of Land Restoration & Friends of the Cheat Partnership Pilot Project, under which FOC will monitor and maintain DEP water treatment facilities residing in the Cheat River basin.

FOC Field Technicians Jeremy Sidebottom, Garrett Thompson, and Chris Bern are already hard at work reducing water pollution in local streams.

FOC Field Technicians Jeremy Sidebottom, Garrett Thompson, and Chris Bern are already hard at work reducing water pollution in local streams.

This is truly an exciting opportunity for Friends of the Cheat. Our hands will physically be turning the knobs that treat acid mine drainage (AMD) right here in our backyard. Our new staff members, most of whom grew up in Preston County, are intimately and acutely aware of the consequences of AMD. Friends of the Cheat would like to welcome the new team coordinator and the three water quality technicians to the Kingwood office: Owen Mulkeen, Chris Bern, Jeremy Sidebottom, and Garrett Thompson. These four individuals will be managing the treatment facilities that dot the countryside of Preston County.

Be on the lookout for new Friends of the Cheat vehicles, and make sure to smile and wave as they’re on their way to clean up some water!


Kingwood Hike with the Preston Ramblers

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On the afternoon of Sunday, June 30th, the Preston Ramblers, a group of hikers rallied by the Preston Rail-Trail Committee (PRTC) of Friends of the Cheat, met at the future trail head of the West Virginia Northern rail-trail near the historic water tower in Kingwood. Four committee members were joined by two community members interested in learning more about the Committee’s rail-trail projects, including how they could get involved. Although it was a hot afternoon, the hikers and a canine companion had a great walk.

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Preston Ramblers and guests get ready for a summer hike on the proposed WV Northern Trail

Preston Ramblers organize excursions on rail-trails and future rail-trails throughout the area for members of the community to get acquainted with the trails and learn more about rail-trail development efforts in Preston County. The West Virginia Northern and the Cheat River CSXT line are two rail-trail projects that the Preston Ramblers are promoting in 2013.

The group’s next hike will start from the Tunnelton end of the West Virginia Northern Railroad line, on Thursday July 11th at 6pm, meeting at the Honor Roll area in Tunnelton which is across Rt. 26 from the school. PRTC intents to look over the area and try to come up with a plan for the trail head for that area.  PRTC welcomes new people enthusiastic about the plethora of benefits that rail-trails bring to the area.  Learn more about PRTC and their efforts at www.cheat.org/recreation/trails and by joining the Preston Rail-Trail Committee group on Facebook.  PRTC meets the first Monday of each month at the Friends of the Cheat office in Kingwood at 5pm.