Support WV Rivers Coalition This Giving Tuesday

If you grew up in Appalachia, there’s a good chance you have a story about catching salamanders and crawdads in the creeks.

On rainy days, I would put on my little galoshes, grab my trusty rainbow umbrella, and head for the creek. I was weary of the crawdads; my favorite aquatic critter to find were the newts. I’d wait for them to float to the surface to take a breath of air, then pounce on them. I loved the feel of their slimy skin as they attempted to wriggle out of my grasp.

You know what they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My son, Ridge, loves exploring those same mountain streams like I did.

It brings me great joy to see the delight in his eyes as he shows me the big pinchers on his latest crawdad catch. He’s fearless of them, sometimes using a net but mostly grabbing them with his bare hands. (He then proceeds to chase me around, trying to pinch me. )

Experiences such as these are what put the “wild” in wild and wonderful. I came back to the Mountain State to raise a family because I wanted my child to feel the joy of exploring our mountain streams and catching creek critters. It was those early experiences that got me hooked on nature and led me to pursue a career in Environmental Science.

While we have a wealth of clean mountain streams in this region, we also have a long and complicated history of resource exploitation, which has damaged our most precious resource.

In our work at WV Rivers Coalition, we go into communities and ask how we can help. Time and time again, I hear stories from mothers and grandmothers who are fearful of letting their little ones play in the creek because the water is polluted.

Creeks that were once teaming with life, no longer have a crawdad or salamander to be found. It pains me to know the tradition I hope my son will carry on is threatened daily.

That is why I am so passionate about what we do at WV Rivers Coalition. We work tirelessly to prevent pollution in our treasured rivers and preserve our clean water for future generations. I want to make sure every child growing up in our state is able to experience the wonder awaiting them in our rivers and streams without the risk of exposure to toxic pollution.

As I crisscross the state meeting with communities impacted by pollution, it is clear that we all want a livable future for the next generation. We want good jobs AND a healthy environment — and we shouldn’t have to choose one over the other. Will you rush a tax-deductible contribution ahead of Giving Tuesday so we can keep up the good work?

With the support of people like you, some of our successes this past year are getting us closer to that reality! During this year’s legislative session, we supported the passage of the PFAS Protection Act, which will help over 130 communities address chemical contamination in their drinking water sources. We also helped secure additional funding for the DEP Office of Oil and Gas, doubling the number of inspectors to provide oversight of the oil and gas industry. And finally, for over a decade, we have urged WV DEP to use the most up-to-date science to assess the health of our streams.

In August, the EPA agreed with us, proposing to add over 1,600 miles of streams to the state’s impaired stream list so that those streams unable to support biologically diverse aquatic life can get the resources they need to move toward recovery. Let’s take a moment to celebrate the victories we’ve achieved together and gear up for the challenges that lie ahead.

In 2024, some of the challenges we are tackling include addressing “forever chemicals” in our drinking water sources, bringing transparency to the mysterious hydrogen hub, and working to make sure our pristine headwaters remain that way. I’m happy to report that we have a phenomenal team to lead us into 2024, the largest we’ve ever been with ten staff members.

With your unwavering support, we are here to meet those challenges together to keep our rivers and streams safe and healthy and put an end to the legacy of industrial contamination.

Again, tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, and right now, our team is $65,000 short of our 2023 fundraising goal. By the end of the year, WV Rivers needs your help. Can we count on you to dig deep and help us close the gap?

Thank you for all you do for clean water and healthy communities.

More soon,

Autumn Crowe
Program Director, WV Rivers Coalition

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