West Virginia: The Headwaters State

WV Rivers Executive Director Angie Rosser is the West Virginia Headwaters WATERKEEPER© in the southern Monongahela National Forest. It’s an area where six famed rivers come to life: the Cherry, Cranberry, Elk, Gauley, Greenbrier, and Williams.

The WV Southern Monongahela Headwaters are a local and national recreation treasure. They are the state’s storied trout streams, hunting lands, and hiking trails. “Creekers” love the challenging paddling in the small streams in high water. Keeping these waters clean is vital to paddling and fishing downstream, too. Working with WV Rivers staff, partners, and volunteers, and with support from the Waterkeeper Alliance, the program serves as the eyes and voice for the headwaters.

Our Waterkeeper program currently focuses on four areas.

Water Policy

As the only statewide water policy advocate in West Virginia, we seek to strengthen environmental laws and hold polluters accountable. We serve as an environmental watchdog in the state’s regulatory and permitting processes and coordinate the statewide Water Policy Workgroup, a “think tank” comprised of West Virginia’s leading authorities on water quality and aquatic health issues. Keep up to date on our water policy page and by signing up for our policy updates.

Natural Gas Pipelines

The large scale Atlantic Coast Pipeline is proposed to bisect the Monongahela National Forest and cross through over 100 headwater streams.WV Rivers, along with WV Highlands Conservancy and the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, commissioned Downstream Strategies to investigate public input opportunities related to the ACP and the onslaught of proposed natural gas pipeline construction projects across the state.

The groups’ initial research resulted in “Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia: Opportunities for Public Engagement regarding Erosion and Sedimentation.”

Pipeline Water Quality Monitoring

In partnership with Trout Unlimited, we are expanding monitoring along proposed pipeline routes. This follows the successful WV Rivers/TU partnership to implement TU’s Water Quality Monitoring Project in West Virginia and Virginia. It monitors coldwater streams that have the most potential to be impacted from shale gas development through a network of trained volunteers. For the new effort, we will will identify erosion and sedimentation impacts that may occur due to pipeline development.

Volunteers will collect data and conduct visual reconnaissance before, during, and after pipeline construction.

Volunteers are needed who can regularly monitor in predetermined pipeline route locations. Interested in learning more? Call us or email ktyner@wvrivers.org.

Birthplace of Rivers

We are working to expand protection of the headwaters through designating the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument, either by Congressional action or Presidential proclamation. This effort includes building a grassroots alliance and advocating the proposal in Congress. You can help, too.

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