2020 Watershed Symposium

The West Virginia Watershed Network (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 participants representing watershed groups across the state.

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

The following groups and individuals were recognized for their achievements:

Four Pole Creek Watershed Association was awarded the 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 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. 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. Watch recordings of the presentations below.

Welcome, Water Advocacy 101, & Legislative Update, Watershed Award

WV Rivers Coalition’s executive director, Angie Rosser, provides an overview of how watersheds can advocate for strong water policy as a 501c (3) non-profit organization and gives an update on what’s to come in the 2021 Legislative Session. The presentation will close with the announcement of the 2020 Watershed Awards.

Keynote Speaker: Celebrating the Great River with a Plan for the Ohio River Basin – 2020-2025, Dr. Harry Stone, Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBA)

After ten years of ORBA collaborative Summits and a 17-month period to gather stakeholder input, the Plan for the Ohio River Basin was released by the US Army Corps of Engineers on September 28, 2020, and accepted for implementation by the ORBA Steering Committee. The Plan provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity for a multi-billion-dollar federal investment in the Basin – including ecological restoration in West Virginia. The presentation discusses the six goals of the plan, next steps in the implementation process, and how watershed organizations can get engaged – it will take all of us working together to make this happen.

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Identification Refresher

Get a macroinvertebrate Identification refresher. Learn expert tips and tricks to help you identify “Benthic macroinvertebrates” in the field, and what they can tell us about the health of our rivers and streams. Participate in an activity following the presentation to be eligible for benthic prizes!

Marketing Your Watershed Group: Danny Forinash, Charles Ryan Associates

In a digital world, finding an effective marketing approach can be daunting. But by identifying audiences, figuring out where they go for info and defining your goals, organizations have blueprints from which to choose. Whether groups have money to invest in marketing or not, they have proven options. Learn tips of the trade on how to effectively market your watershed group on social media to recruit new members, communicate with your members and build support for your projects.

Educational Opportunities: Morris Creek Project, WVDEP Youth Environmental Program, WV Rivers/Trout Unlimited Mobile Monitoring Application

Learn how Morris Creek Watershed worked with students at Malden Elementary School to track fireflies, collect water quality data, and increase the bat population at Morris Creek. You’ll also hear about WVDEP Environmental Program and learn about the new initiative of WV Rivers and Trout Unlimited to develop a mobile phone watershed monitoring application.

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