A bill to allow commercial logging in West Virginia’s State Parks, Senate Bill 270, was introduced in the WV Legislature at the request of Governor Justice. This bill would end an 80-year ban on logging in West Virginia’s State Parks.
There has been a quick public outcry against this bill as many folks have an immediate, emotional reaction to cutting trees in West Virginia’s precious State Parks. In an effort to educate the public on this complex issue, Friends of the Cheat has done their best, in a short time frame, to pull together factual information on this matter with support from our partners at West Virginians for Public Lands.
If you have already made up your mind that commercial logging in State Parks is not good for West Virginia contact the Governor now, and tell him you oppose lifting the logging ban.
If you are not so sure, read on…
The State Code (section 20-5-3) says that the purpose of the West Virginia Parks and Recreation section, is “to promote conservation by preserving and protecting natural areas of unique or exceptional scenic, scientific, cultural, archaeological or historic significance and to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for the citizens of this state and its visitors.”
Section 20-1-7 says that valid reasons for acquiring state park lands are “for the purpose of preserving scenic, aesthetic, scientific, cultural, archaeological or historical values or natural wonders, or providing public recreation.”
Logging does not serve any of these purposes. Logging operations reduce the scenic and aesthetic values of a forest, interfere with recreational use, and can degrade or obscure scientific, cultural, archaeological, and historical values. Therefore, logging our State Forests contravenes the mission of the Parks and Recreation section, and betrays the values for which the land was acquired. Allowing logging in our State Park system would fundamentally change the nature of that system. Is that really what we want to do?
West Virginia’s public lands are about 13% of the total forest land in the state*, and 98% of those public lands are currently open to logging**. There is little to be gained, and much to be lost from this proposal.
*WV Division of Forestry Resource Assessment 2010, pg. 25
For more information, check out the Save Our State Parks webpage.
“Rebirth has begun, but there is more work to be done”
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.
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.
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!
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:
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!”
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.
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.
In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the 1985 Cheat River Flood, Friends of the Cheat will be sponsoring a spaghetti dinner at the Fellowship Hall in Albright, WV, across the street from the Albright United Methodist Church at 170 McCrumb Street, Albright, WV 26519. The event is free and open to the public..
The dinner is Wednesday, November 4, 2015, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Videos of the flood coverage will be projected for view, and local residents and business owners are invited to share their stories. At the conclusion of the event, Friends of the Cheat will lead the group in a reflection activity where everyone will be encouraged to write a memory or wish on a piece of “Flying Wish Paper.” Outside, the papers will be lit and they will fly away into the night sky. For more information, contact Beth Warnick at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Friends of the Cheat office at 304-329-3621, or the Friends of the Cheat Facebook group.
On Thursday, November 5, 2015, the Rowlesburg ON TRAC Community will be hosting activities throughout the day, starting with a groundbreaking ceremony at the Main Street Garden for a new flood memorial at 9:30am, followed by a commemorative walk from the Old Rowlesburg Church property to the River House Lodge at 10:30am. A soup, sandwich, and dessert luncheon ($5 donation) with live music and flood news coverage video will take place at the Szilagyi Center at noon. The public is welcome to bring physical artifacts to be displayed for the afternoon in the auditorium, and is also welcome to share stories and remembrances. At 7:00pm, there will be a ceremony of light over the Cheat River at the Rowlesburg Park, where paper lanterns will be released. For more information, please contact Anna Nassif at email@example.com.
Also Thursday, November 5, 2015, there will be a remembrance ceremony by the river in Parsons, WV, starting at 6:00pm. A reception with stories from the flood will follow at 6:30pm, at the Tucker County Courthouse. This event is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by PRO ON TRAC and the Tucker County Historical Society. For more information, please contact Bobby Boggs of the Tucker County Historical Society at (304)-940-3301, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
Paddle the Upper Cheat River Water Trail with Friends of the Cheat!
On Saturday, June 7th, Friends of the Cheat’s Water Trail Committee will celebrate the Upper Cheat River Water Trail’s one year anniversary and National Trails Day by hosting the Meet the Cheat Community Paddle! The group seeks to make this event an annual one, with the support of Blackwater Outdoor Adventures (BOA) and other local businesses.
Meet at the Blackwater Outdoor Adventures outpost in St. George (60 Location Road, Parsons) at 10am to conserve parking spaces at the Holly Meadows access site and get a free shuttle to the put-in. The floatilla will launch at 11am from the Holly Meadows access site (off of Holly Meadows Rd – CR5/8) and float the Upper Cheat River Water Trail approximately 8 miles to St. George.
Pending good water levels, the paddle will take about 4 hours. Need a boat? Canoes and inflatables are available for rental. BOA is offering a rental special for this event:
Canoes @ $30 with $10 donated to Friends of the Cheat’s Cheat River Water Trail project.
Kayaks @ $15 with $5 donated to Friends of the Cheat’s Cheat River Water Trail project.
Join the paddling after-party at Blackwater Outdoor Adventure’s outpost around 4pm. The event will include live music, food and beverages provided by the Water Trail Committee, and plenty of friends with whom to share your big fish stories with around the campfire. Camping is available at BOA.
Water levels can change paddling plans; stay tuned in by joining the Upper Cheat River Water Trail group on Facebook or by keeping an eye on the water trail website: www.cheatriverwatertrails.org. The website will have a new look very soon thanks to support from the Tucker County CVB!
You too can support this project by joining the Water Trail Committee, volunteering to maintain an access, or by donating goods, services or money to the project’s dedicated fund. Contact Dave Cassell to learn more: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.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
In spirit of Giving Tuesday, make a tribute* in honor of someone special or an entire family on your holiday shopping list. Forego a traditional gift and support FOC’s work to protect the future of the Cheat for generations to come.
*Tributes received by December 18th will receive a special gift!
Rivers give us so many things. This holiday season give something back to the Cheat by purchasing merchandise from Friends of the Cheat. We turn sale proceeds into grant dollars which results in projects on the ground. Whether it is measureable reductions in pollution entering the river or public river access sites, FOC works to “restore, preserve, and promote” the Cheat River watershed. Where else can you score a unique gift for someone special AND contribute to the ongoing restoration of the mighty
FOC has new t-shirt styles and colors, and this will be the last batch of our classic map shirt ever as we are planning a new design in celebration of FOC’s 20th anniversary in 2014. FOC koozies, hillbilly wineglasses, long sleeve tees, and hats are also available. All 2013 festival tees are $5 off.
FOC was the grateful recipient of a donation of watercolor prints by the late Hoyt Reel. We have a limited supply of a variety of prints (average size 22″X18″) available for only $30 each.
To purchase FOC swag, visit our office at 119 South Price Street in Kingwood any weekday between the hours of 9am and 4pm (we recommend calling first: 304-329-3621).
For the river lover who has everything, make a donation in their name to Friends of the Cheat. In addition to a handwritten thank you card and FOC sticker—for gift memberships received by December 18th, FOC will mail an 8”X10” print of this photograph by award-winning local photographer, Kathy Jenkins to your special someone.
Make your dollar go further this year by giving two gifts at once! Give a tribute.
All donations to FOC are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
2013 Cheat River Festival, May 4th, 2013
To be considered for dedication of the Cheat River Festival, the nominee must have made significant contributions that correspond to the mission of Friends of the Cheat: “To Restore, Preserve, and Promote the outstanding natural qualities of the Cheat River watershed.” Previous Festival honorees include:
2012 – Eloise Morgan Milne FOC supporter who grew up at the Morgan Farm along Muddy Creek which is now the Cheat River Festival site, her significant financial contributions helped advance the construction of the timber-frame pavilion on the site
2011 – Glen Miller long-time Cheat Canyon shuttle driver, infamous for his pickup truck, great sense of humor, and commitment to providing access to whitewater paddlers no matter how bumpy the ride
2010 – Keith Pitzer former FOC Board member and Executive Director, whose countless contributions were key to the organization’s growth and success specifically his dedication to implementing acid mine drainage treatment systems, advancement of rail-trail initiatives, and laying the groundwork for site improvements to benefit educational programs at the Doug Ferris Outdoor Classroom and a Cheat River interpretive center at the “Preston Site”
Nomination Form: 2013CheatFestDedicationForm
Nominations must be submitted to Friends of the Cheat by 5pm on February 14, 2013. E-mailed submissions are preferred and can be sent to Festival Coordinator, Emma Donovan, at email@example.com. Hard copies can be mailed to the FOC office at 119 S. Price St. Ste. 206, Kingwood, WV 26537. The nominee will be chosen by the Festival Committee on or before February 18.