Honoring the Good Work of Watershed Organizations

Last year, WV Rivers Coalition became the fiscal sponsor of the West Virginia Watershed Network (WVWN), a statewide organization of of nonprofits, state, and federal agencies who support the work of community-based watershed groups.

The WVWN holds an annual Watershed Celebration Day to provide watershed organizations an opportunity to learn, celebrate, and network with their peers. This year, the WVWN moved Watershed Celebration Day online and hosted a Virtual Watershed Symposium. The Symposium, held Nov 5-6, through video conferencing, welcomed over 50 participents representing watershed groups across the state.

The Symposium, staying true to its Watershed Celebration Day roots, kicked off by honoring five outstanding groups and one individual for their contributions towards watershed restoration.

The following groups and individuals were recognized for their achievements:

Four Pole Creek Watershed Association, based in Huntington, was awarded with the Watershed Education Award for providing their community with an interactive Virtual Sandbox Watershed Model at community events and implementing “Catfish in the Classroom” projects in their local schools.

Piney Creek Watershed Association, based in Beckley received the Restoration Award recognizing their many water quality improvement projects like a rain garden at the Raleigh County Convention Center and a hillside stabilization project at the local YMCA Soccer Complex.

Forks of Coal State Natural Area Foundation was recognized with the Celebration Award for their socially distant scavenger hunt, which challenging families to locate landmarks between the Little Coal and Big Coal River including beaver gnawed trees, pollinator gardens, animal prints, and more.

Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance received the Vigilance Award for their dedication to watching pipeline construction projects to make sure that contractors fulfilled their obligations to protect rivers and streams.

And the prestigious Watershed Hero Award, presented to an individual for their volunteer efforts that go above and beyond their call of duty, was bestowed upon Norman Dean for his nearly 20 years of service to both Sleepy Creek Watershed Association and Warm Springs Watershed Association based in the Eastern Panhandle. Norman has been the steadfast lead for the Sleepy Creek Watershed Association and Warm Springs Watershed Association’s WV Save Our Streams monitoring programs. He has trained individual volunteers and led in-stream sampling and the collection of benthic macroinvertebrates, spending countless hours analyzing, categorizing, and reporting sample results to watershed association members and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Rick Buckley, with Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation who is nearing his retirement also received a surprise recognition for his work with watershed groups to restore streams impacted by coal mining.

The Symposium also provided presentations and resources for watershed groups to hone their skills and be more effective in their efforts to preserve and protect their watersheds. Presentations included Advocacy Tips and Legislative Updates, the Ohio River Basin Strategic Plan, Benthic Macroinvertebrates, Marketing your Watershed Organization and Educational Opportunities. Recordings of the presentations and awards can be viewed on our website: https://wvrivers.org/resources/watershed/wcd2020/.

Thank you to the Symposiums funders: The WV Department of Environmental Protection, WV Conservation Agency Districts and the Mountain Resource Conservation and Development.

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