Above: Muddy Creek Restoration Map, updated April 2016. Click to enlarge.
Above: photo by Ben Faulkner.
Friends of the Cheat works with private, governmental, and local stakeholders on a variety of restoration projects in the Cheat River watershed. FOC’s watershed restoration efforts has primarily focused on the installation of passive AMD treatment projects. The AMD prioritization index, a product of FOC’s Mapping and Monitoring Program, was developed to help focus restoration efforts on significant AMD contributors within a given sub-watershed. FOC uses its monitoring and reconnaissance results to strategically plan for the continued restoration in the Cheat River and its tributaries.
The ultimate goal of our restoration efforts is to improve water quality in the Cheat River main stem and its tributaries so that healthy aquatic life and recreational uses can be adequately sustained. Here are some areas we work on, employing a wide variety of methods, from dedicated volunteer efforts to complex technical projects.
Abandoned mine lands discharge acidic and metal laden water into the streams of the Cheat Watershed, and the resulting chemical reactions render the water unlivable for aquatic insects, fish, and amphibians. We work to identify the sources, collaborate with volunteer landowners, research possible treatment, write grants, and install treatment systems to restore water quality in these tributaries of the Cheat River. We employ a combination of settling ponds, wetlands, steel slag beds, open limestone channels (OLCs) and solar powered flushing drains to achieve the best possible reductions of the acid and metal load before it ever reaches the streams or River.
Human activity such as deforestation and agriculture can sometimes alter the very makeup of stream beds, and uninformed efforts to stop flooding or gain more usable land can unnaturally alter the path that water takes through a watershed. Eventually, natural forces such as erosion and deposition lead to damaging changes in the stream channel, either washing away the foundation of roads, houses, etc., or dropping gravel, stones, and sediment in huge quantities onto roads or property.
Stream channel issues are particularly evident in the Salt Lick Watershed, with both flooding and erosion prompting numerous complaints in 2010 after high snow melt in the spring.
We are interested in working with local land-owners and governments funders to implement effective natural stream channel restoration. If you have an idea for such a cooperation, please contact us and let us know!
Species that are not native to the Cheat Watershed(such as Japanese Knotweed seen above) can out-compete the indigenous plants and animals, upsetting the balance of delicate ecosystems. Primarily, we have focused on removing invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed and Garlic Mustard, but are also very concerned about preventing the spread of pests such as Didymo, or Rock Snot.
Full scale didymo infestations completely take over the habitat of native aquatic vegetation and can severely impair the ability of the impacted streams to support other native aquatic life.
FOC maintains a number of properties, is a participant in the WV DEP Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP) Adopt-A-Highway program, and looks after a number of river access points. We strongly encourage environmental stewardship, and do our part to keep our watershed clean. Follow us on facebook and check our events page for upcoming clean-ups.
You never know what kind of trash you may find!