Video by Joel Wolpert
For the past 15 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 $25,000 and arranged for a $15,000 match from the West Virginia DEP. We are now working closely with the West Virginia Land Trust, which took ownership of the land last Fall. 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. With state highway budgets cut to the bone, roads like this are simply ignored. The Whitewater Access Campaign is a long-term project We’ve raised over $139,000 to improve parking and maintain the roads used by river runners and hikers thanks to the generosity of hundreds of Cheat River Lovers just like you!
This year, with a goal of $10,000, we’re focusing again on continued maintenance and repairs on the Jenkinsburg access road: grading, ditching, and filling. After a heavy winter, the hairpin turn just above the parking area is in particularly bad shape. FOC aims to have all repairs completed by May – just in time for the Cheat Canyon Massacre-ence on Saturday, May 1st.
Each year, we lead off our Spring Whitewater Access Campaign in conjunction with our annual Cheat River Festival. The 2021 Cheat Fest is again a virtual event – although we will be hosting some outdoor, socially distanced events throughout the entire month of May. For more details head over to cheatfest.org. 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. Needless to say, this is a significant funding gap – and your donations are more important than ever to our staying ‘afloat.’
Please help as much as you’re able. $100 renews your annual Friends of the Cheat membership; $300 will get you a 2021 Cheat River Festival T-Shirt* (please indicate your size in the “comments to seller” box in Paypal, or on the memo line of your check). *Cheat Fest shirts will ship after May 1st. Follow this link to make a donation!
Extended into 2021! 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. Taxpayers will be able to claim the deductions on their tax forms next year.
The Rockville Bridge remains closed after being shut down by DOH in August of 2020. Paddlers can use the road from Pisgah to reach the FOC public access point – but fair warning – the road is in bad shape. Only 4-wheel drive vehicles with a generous clearing should attempt this.
In 2020, the West Virginia Land Trust (WVLT) acquired the Jenkinsburg Recreation Area, securing and protecting it for future river and trail public access. FOC will continue to manage the area in partnership with WVLT – and assist in future improvements.
We’re counting on you, now more than ever! Please continue to protect yourself and others – safer times are on the way. Thank you for your continued support!