PARSONS – On Saturday, August 3, a diverse group of citizen scientists met at a shelter in the Stewart Recreation Area just outside Elkins for a day of collecting stream samples in the northern area of the Monongahela National Forest. This effort to collect baseline data was sponsored by the WVDEP, Trout Unlimited, the WV Rivers Coalition and the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation.
Parsons residents, David and Pam Ruediger, became involved through a stream monitoring training they attended this spring that was presented by Trout Unlimited. As a result of the training they were assigned streams in Tucker County from which to collect water samples to be sent to a lab for analysis. Unfortunately, shortly after the training, illness kept them from getting to their assigned streams. Therefore they eagerly participated in the “Watershed Snapshot Day” for additional training and the opportunity to help collect data on some of the streams in the Monongahela National Forest.
The “Watershed Snapshot Day”, as well as the initial stream monitoring training they attended, was organized by Jamie Holmes, the West Virginia/ Virginia Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator and AFHA Americorps member. Since September 2013 Jamie has lived and worked in Thomas and monitors several streams herself, in addition to her excellent organizational skills.
Unfortunately, Jamie will soon be returning to her home in Massachusetts. Her replacement is Jake Lemon with the Eastern Shale Gas Monitoring Program who is also the Trout Unlimited coordinator for the volunteer monitoring program as well as an instructor in flow monitoring.
The health of the Upper Cheat River watershed is vital to the recreational value of all the streams in Tucker County and throughout the Monongahela National Forest. With the decline of industry in our area the growing economic potential for outdoor recreation in Tucker County demands to be explored and is a resource to be protected.
Because of a passionate interest in the health of all streams, due to their love of all the boating, fishing and swimming opportunities on those streams, the Ruedigars felt an obligation last year to get involved with the Friends of the Cheat’s Upper Cheat River Water Trail committee. The Upper Cheat River Water Trail members worked with the WV Department of Natural Resources to find, develop and maintain public river access sites. There is now a series of sites from the Dry Fork in Hendricks and the Shavers Fork in Parsons down to Rowlesburg where anyone can put in a canoe, kayak or inner tube to float and/or fish the wonderful Class I and II streams with which we are blessed. Because of the cooperation from the WV Department of Natural Resources and the WV Department of Highways, there are now attractive, very visible signs both on the road and along the streams that let folks know where the sites are.
The uppermost put-in in Parsons off of Parkwood Lane is currently being renovated and upgraded by the City of Parsons through a grant written by Pam Ruediger that was available from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Because of construction at the Parkwood Lane site, right now the best put-in in Parsons is between the Rail to Trail bridge and the Sheriff Hovatter bridge or at C.J.’s Pizza. The next River Trail take-out is then about three miles downstream at the Holly Meadows bridge. From Holly Meadows the next take-out is eight miles downstream across the river from Blackwater Outdoor Adventures. For more information please go to cheatriverwatertrail.org.
The uppermost put-in on the Dry Fork in Hendricks is beside the footbridge maintained and protected by Ray and Roxanne Tuesing. The parking area beside the bridge was donated to the River Trail by the American Canoe Association and Ray Tuesing saw that the site was cleared and leveled.
They are working on forming a river club which would help grow appreciation of, and the ability to enjoy, our streams. This could also involve swimming lessons as well as having boats and inner tubes for public use. Their fervent hope is this will enhance love and appreciation for the God given treasure of our streams along the Upper Cheat River Water Trail.