Video by Joel Wolpert
For the past 14 years, Friends of the Cheat has developed and maintained access to the Cheat Canyon and Big Sandy Rivers in Albright, Rockville, and Jenkinsburg through our Whitewater Access program. In 2006, Friends of the Cheat partnered with American Whitewater to lease the Jenkinsburg Access for 25 Years. We then raised $15,000 and arranged for a $50,000 match from the West Virginia DEP. In 2007, FOC partnered with Chesapeake Energy, who donated the land that was to become the Rockville Access on the Big Sandy. After a land swap with Allegheny Wood Products, the parking lot was improved. In 2009, Friends of the Cheat began a decade-long project to stabilize and maintain the Rockville and Jenkinsburg Shuttle Roads. The Whitewater Access Campaign has been a long-term project – with more developments planned in years to come. We’ve raised over $130,000 to improve parking and maintain the roads used by river runners and hikers and your donations have been huge part of our success.
Thanks to a mild winter and our multi-year effort, the access roads are in decent shape. This year, we are focusing on routine maintenance: grading, ditching, and filling. The Preston County WV DOH is kindly donating 60-70 tons of gravel for the project. Our contractor, Solid Rock Excavating of Preston County, is standing by, ready to mobilize to continue the work.
But now we face a very serious challenge.
We lead off our Spring Whitewater Access Campaign in conjunction with our annual Cheat River Festival. As you may know, that event, along with many others, has been canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Cheat Fest is the river community’s pride and joy. While not only being a celebration, the event raises about $45,000 a year to support the basic organizational overhead of Friends of the Cheat. It “keeps the lights on” so to speak. We’re scrambling to make up the difference, and need your help.
Please help as much as you’re able. $100 renews your annual Friends of the Cheat membership; $250 will get a 2020 Cheat Festival T-Shirt (please indicate your size in the “comments to seller” box on Paypal, or on the memo line of your check). Follow this link to make a donation!
Breaking News– The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will let taxpayers deduct up to $300 ($600 for couples) in charitable donations from their taxable income. The rule will apply only to charitable contributions made in 2020. Taxpayers will be able to claim the deductions on their tax forms next year.
Funds raised through the Whitewater Access Campaign are also eligible for a partial fundraising match at the 2020 “Run for it” event in Davis each fall. Last year, thanks to your generosity, FOC was awarded $2,150 that supported our Cheat River Restoration program.
We’re counting on you, now more than ever! Practice social distancing and stay local. Take care of yourselves and each other – we’re all in this together. The rivers will be waiting for you when this is all over.