River of Promise
Outline of a Shared Commitment
The River of Promise is a coalition of state and federal agencies, academia, industry, and environmental groups working to bring resources, technology, and expertise together to address acid mine drainage and other pollution problems in the Cheat River Watershed.
Friends of the Cheat formed in the spring of 1994 in response to a significant AMD blowout from an underground coal mine that had been illegally sealed. The founders recognized immediately that the scope of the AMD problem in the watershed extended far beyond this single catastrophe, and that all available resources would need to be coordinated to have a serious impact. Local industry, state and federal agencies, and other citizen groups were solicited for assistance. This effort led to the formation of the River of Promise (ROP) task force.
Over 20 groups have signed onto the “River of Promise: A Shared Commitment for the Restoration of the Cheat River, West Virginia.” This began in May 1995, with initial signatories Friends of the Cheat, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Anker Energy, West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and the Department of Interior Office of Surface Mining. Subsequent 1996 signatories included more state and federal agencies, academia, conservation groups, local government. Meeting quarterly and chaired by Friends of the Cheat, the River of Promise task force coordinates and initiates remediation projects throughout the watershed.
Millions of dollars in projects have been implemented since the inception of the River of Promise, including water monitoring programs, water quality assessments, and reclamation projects.
River of Promise Purpose and Goals:
- To restore, care for, and promote the outstanding resources and qualities of the Cheat River Watershed for the people of West Virginia and the region.
- Expand efforts to identify significant sources of acid mine drainage (AMD) pollution in the Cheat River Watershed.
- Increase public awareness of the extent and impacts of AMD in the watershed.
- Work together to target streams that contribute significant AMD and select or develop effective technologies to mitigate that pollution.
- Work in concert to secure funding for AMD mitigation projects.
- Implement financially and technically effective AMD mitigation projects.
- Monitor the status of water quality and fisheries in the watershed and share data.
- Promote recreational use of the river and its contribution to local economies.
Advantages of the River of Promise approach:
- Promotes communication and awareness between interest groups and agencies of problems and potential solutions.
- Fosters new partnerships between agencies, leveraging new funding sources to the watershed.
- Increases effectiveness by sharing resources and expertise.
- Provides “critical mass” to gaining support for large projects or initiatives.
- Crosses political boundaries in watershed issues.
- Maintains stakeholder input in prioritization and management issues in watershed.
The partners in the River of Promise truly do “share a commitment”. This approach has accomplished much and will continue to restore the natural qualities of the Cheat Watershed for the benefit of all users and inhabitants.
River of Promise Signatories
Canaan Valley Institute
Cheat Lake Environment and Recreation Association
Friends of the Cheat
National Biological Survey
National Mine Lands Reclamation Center
Preston County Commission
Trout Unlimited, WV State Council
West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
West Virginia Rivers Coalition
West Virginia University: College of Agriculture and Forestry
United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
United States Department of Energy
Federal Energy Technology Center
United States Department of the Interior
Fish and Wildlife Service
National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance
Office of Surface Mining
United States Geological Survey
United States Environmental Protection Agency Region III