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!

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:

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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!”  

April is Earth Month – Volunteer with FOC

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April is Earth Month!  Earth Day was established in the U.S. on April 22, 1970 to draw attention to the need to protect our water, air, and land from pollution.  Last year over one billion people in nearly 200 countries participated in Earth Day in one way or another—many of them volunteering in support of environmental projects or initiatives in their communities.  For even greater impact, the entire month of April is now considered Earth Month.  FOC has many opportunities this spring for you to help restore, preserve, and promote a healthy Cheat River:

Tuesday, April 8 – Spring Newsletter Mailing, FOC Offices, 119 South Price Street, Kingwood

Fold and label nearly 1,200 newsletters for mailing to FOC donors, partners, and community leaders.  Extra hands and good conversation makes this task a breeze. The work party starts at 10am at the Friends of the Cheat office.  The group will call it quits by 3pm.  E-mail Valorie to RSVP or for more information:  valorie@cheat.org

Tentative – Wednesday, April 9 – Finish Up Spring Newsletter Mailing, 10am-3pm. RSVP to Valorie.

Saturday, April 12 – Adopt-a-Highway Route 26 Cleanup, Albright

Pitch in and help FOC care for its 3-mile stretch of Route 26.  Meet at 10am at the pavilion behind the Albright Quick Stop.  Gloves, trash bags, safety vests, and water provided.  With 9 energetic volunteers the cleanup lasts only about 2 hours.  The more the merrier!  Weather dependent – backup date April 13 at 1pm.  Email Amanda with any questions:  amanda@cheat.org

Sunday, April 13 – Festival Site Spring Cleaning, 139 Beech Run Road, Albright

Meet at 12 noon to help prepare for FOC’s largest fundraiser of the year by joining the crew at the Festival site to remove downed limbs and sticks prior to mowing.  Wear rugged shoes and bring work gloves.  Pickup trucks also helpful.   E-mail Emma to RSVP, offer equipment or special services, or for more information:  emma@cheat.org

Saturday, April 26 – Upper Cheat River Water Trail River Sweep, Parsons Area

Float the Parsons area of the Upper Cheat River Water Trail, removing streamside litter and debris for safe and beautiful paddling experiences.  Blackwater Outdoor Adventures (BOA) will coordinate boats and shuttle—meet at BOA’s St. George location at 10am.  Pickup trucks welcome.  Contact Patrick at BOA for more information or to offer special services/equipment.  Weather dependent – backup date April 27.  RSVP required.  Patrick McCann – E-mail: raftboa@frontiernet.net  Phone:  (304)478-3775

 

Cheat River Festival Volunteer Opportunities – Volunteers are the backbone of our Festival!

The 20th annual Cheat River Festival will be held May 2 & 3 at the Friends of the Cheat festival grounds in Albright, WV.  Contact Kelli Geswein in advance to schedule a volunteer shift (304)379-8719 or kelligeswein@hotmail.com.  There are many different ways to help, most shifts are 4 hours:

May 1 & 2 – Festival setup Thursday & Friday.  Flag booth and parking layouts, install signage, move heavy things around, and generally get the grounds prepped for the weekend.

May 2 – Cheat River Massacre-ence Downriver Race.  Help Friday afternoon and evening with directing traffic, registration, timing, and the awards ceremony and after party.  You must contact Kevin in advance to volunteer:  kevin@cheat.org

May 2 – Friday Night VIP Event.  Help with parking, greet the guests, and give away prizes at our special invite-only 20th anniversary Fest warm-up party.  Contact Amanda to help with this specific event:  amanda@cheat.org

May 3 – Cheat Fest 5K, Saturday morning foot race.  Volunteers needed for parking, registration, refreshments, and course support.  Race starts at 10am.

May 3 – 20th Cheat River Festival.  Lots of roles to fill from gates shifts, grounds crew, setup and cleanup.

May 4 – Festival wrap up.  Dismantle tents, move chairs and tables, sort recyclables, and pack up until next year.  Helps cure your hangover.  Coffee provided by FOC.

 

Volunteer at the most bad-ass trail race on the East Coast and raise money for the Cheat!

June 13 – 14, Ragnar Appalachia Trail Race, Big Bear Lake, Hazelton

Join Friends of the Cheat’s volunteer team at the east’s most challenging trail race hosted by Ragnar Trail Relays.  Teams of 4 and 8 will run a total of 120 miles on three rugged loops around Big Bear Lake.  For each 4-5 hour volunteer shift filled by FOC, FOC will earn a $60 donation!  Help with parking and team registration Friday and Saturday.  You don’t have to be a runner to appreciate this epic event—over 275 teams are expected in this event’s second year.  You must contact Amanda to volunteer:  Amanda@cheat.org or (304)329-3621

2nd Annual Foodshed=Watershed Picnic

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Friends of the Cheat organized a fundraising appreciation picnic to celebrate the first year of data collecting under the Cheat Aquatic Pollution and Base-line Ecological (CAPABLE) monitoring program. Volunteers have been diligently collecting descriptive information pertaining to the water quality in the streams near their homes. The program has doubled in size this past year, from eleven monitoring sites to twenty-eight.

The bounty of local producers was exemplified with donations of food by restaurants using local produce. Monroe’s donated a fresh garden salad, Richwood Grill with a chunky chicken entrée complemented with seasonal vegetables. Roasted corn was donated by Susan Sauter. Dessert was provided by Madeline’s, and featured rolls stuffed with sweet West Virginian apples.

Volunteers gathered for discussion of the developing CAPABLE monitoring program and they look forward to the locally produced food donated for the event.

The OSM/VISTA Aubrey Harris spoke about the future goals of the CAPABLE program, including the creation of an online map and streamlining the data that has been collected into easy to interpret charts. As more volunteers desire to join the ranks of stream monitors, a monitor mentoring program has been considered in order to encourage new monitors autonomy in collecting data. Now that some senior monitors have had a year of service under their belts, the hope is that their wisdom can be transferred to the new volunteers to make the hours dedicated to stream monitoring more effective.

Door prizes were awarded to outstanding examples in the CAPABLE program. Duane Lazzell received the “Plugged In” award, sponsored by DeBerry Farms. His active reporting and creative means to answering the needs to the program (including developing a method to quantify flow in streams) were mentioned among his achievements. The Caldwell’s of Sunset Beach received a basket, donated by Mountain People’s Cooperative, for their especially descriptive reporting style that illustrated water quality impacts of development near their tributary. Susan Sauter received the FOC basket featuring a baseball cap and a hillbilly wineglass for correctly answering the following trivia question: what event precipitated to cause the Friends of the Cheat to come in formation in 1994? If you don’t know the answer to this question, you can explore our website www.cheat.org for some knowledge.

If you would like to contribute or get involved with the CAPABLE monitoring program, we would like to hear from you! E-mail the new VISTA Aubrey Harris and introduce yourself at osm.vista@cheat.org.