On Nov. 5, the group received the West Virginia Watershed Network’s highest honor of “Watershed Association of the Year” during the 13th Annual Watershed Celebration Day at Jackson’s Mill.
“Coal River Group’s founders understood and nurtured the concept that a small watershed group could only accomplish small things if it attempted to do things by itself,” said Jennifer Pauer, WV Watershed Network Member. “Instead, the group embraced the concept of finding partners for all projects and worked together to complete the new facilities at Tornado. The CRG and its many partners equipped the new facility with the necessary electronics, furniture and fixtures to bring water monitoring education and research capabilities to the public and regional schools.”
In 2011, the Coal River Group completed a wide variety of projects designated in the group’s new five-year plan.
According to members, the plan was developed through public, group and personal meetings with stakeholders in the watershed.
“Volunteers have implemented water education and monitoring programs based at the newly completed river center,” Pauer added.
She said the programs included naturalist education events and water safety sports sessions.
“They have hosted stream cleanup programs for five streams in the watershed resulting in 200 citizens collecting over 40 tons of debris,” Pauer said.
A project designed to support and encourage the development of stream structures in the Coal River Watershed was implemented and the effort’s success was culminated by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) announcement of a commitment to invest $3 million in the construction of 100 additional structures.
Volunteers were also able to expand and enhance the Coal River Walhonde Water Trail. Through partnerships, they were able to secure funding for the construction of covered picnic tables, new signage for all access points, 20,000 new trail brochures and improvements to boat access sites.
“Volunteers are also proud of the reconstruction of an eight-acre water impoundment, complete with a new handicapped accessible pier and parking lot, adjacent to the Coal River at Tornado,” said Pauer. “Coal River Group volunteers are a hard working bunch of people. They just seem to keep on going year after year to accomplish even better projects.”
Pauer said they “…are and deserve to be very proud of their new center.”
“It is just an amazing opportunity for anyone within or outside of the watershed to become inspired to be involved in watershed protection,” she said.