American Rivers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected seven recipients of $1,673,119 in environmental grants to benefit communities, and protect rivers and clean water in the Potomac Highlands region of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Funding for these projects was made possible through a cooperative agreement between American Rivers and the EPA, which supports local economies and quality of life improvements in the Potomac Highlands, as well as protecting the Highlands’ valuable ecosystems.
You can learn more about all of the projects listed below in our report, EPA Potomac Highlands Implementation Grants: Helping Lands, Rivers, and Communities of the Potomac Highlands.
Project: Frostburg Grows, Grow It Local Greenhouse Project
River: Braddock Run
Non-Federal Match: $170,403
The Western Maryland Resource Conservation & Development Council (WMRCD) partnered with Frostburg State University (FSU), Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and others to convert unused mined land into a five-acre greenhouse and shadehouse complex. The complex is designed to grow tree seedlings for restoration efforts throughout the state and to produce a sustainable source of local fruits and vegetables. This facility will also work to train community members in production and cultivation in a controlled/modified environment. These state-of-the-art techniques will begin to restore and revitalize some of the most damaged ecosystems in Appalachia–those scarred by strip mining.
Project: Marsh Creek Watershed Conservation Easement
River: Marsh Creek
Non-Federal Match: $82,707
This grant helped the Land Conservancy of Adams County (LCAC), Pennsylvania, implement the Marsh Creek Watershed Conservation Easement project – an effort to preserve 585 acres and 8,300 linear feet of stream through a conservation easement. These high quality forestlands include the headwaters of Marsh Creek and are adjacent to more than 900 acres of preserved forestland that provide important bird habitat.
Project: Restoring the Riparian Corridor in Waynesboro’s Riverfront Parks
River: South River
Non-Federal Match: $110,275
The City of Waynesboro, along with Trout Unlimited and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, restored riverside habitat, stabilized streambanks, and is better managing polluted runoff using a variety of green infrastructure techniques to improve water quality at Ridgeview Park and Wayne Avenue Pocket Park along the South River. This restoration work followed the removal of two dams along the South River in 2011 that provided access to additional habitat for the area’s trout fishery. The presence of springs throughout the South River watershed makes it a unique resource with respect to the potential for eastern brook trout habitat restoration.
Project: Shenandoah Valley Priority Lands Project
River: Cedar Creek and North Fork Shenandoah River
Non-Federal Match: $1,753,640
This grant helped the Potomac Conservancy, which safeguards the lands and waters of the Potomac region, implement the Shenandoah Valley Priority Lands Project. The project was an effort to protect important riverside, agricultural, and forested lands in Virginia’s northern Shenandoah Valley with permanent conservation easements. Conservation of these key lands will preserve water quality in the Shenandoah River, the Potomac River’s largest tributary. It will also support farms, forests, scenery, and the heritage and recreational opportunities for which the Valley is known. More than 1,100 acres of land were protected.
Project: Gandy Ranch Project
River: Gandy Creek
Non-Federal Match: $189,008
This grant helped The Nature Conservancy implement the Gandy Ranch Project – an effort to protect a 555-acre landscape connector between the Laurel Fork Wilderness Area and the Seneca Rocks/Spruce Knob Recreation Area of Monongahela National Forest. The project restored and reconnected red spruce/northern hardwood forests to expand the habitat of the formerly-endangered West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel and threatened Cheat Mountain Salamander. Partners include The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Mountain Institute.
Project: Cacapon Legacy: Building Conservation Hubs and Corridors
River: Cacapon and Lost River Watersheds
Award: $224,172 Non-Federal Match: $1,038,000
This grant helped the Cacapon & Lost Rivers Land Trust implement the Cacapon Legacy Project – an effort to protect 2,540 acres, including linking a 463-acre protected parcel to a Conservation Hub preserved by the Trust. The project benefitted diverse and globally important resources in the Cacapon and Lost River watershed by permanently protecting habitats that are connected geographically, varied in geologic elevations, and of multiple forest types. This project assisted with WV Wildlife Action Plan implementation and also protected habitats of high resiliency, providing animal and plant migratory paths as temperatures warm.
Project: Mower Tract Ecological Restoration
River: Lambert Run
Non-Federal Match: $248,944
Green Forests Work, in partnership with the Monongahela National Forest, Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI), West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, NRCS Plant Materials Center, and the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative utilized this grant to continue implementation of ecological restoration on 181 acres of the Lambert Run watershed. A holistic suite of restoration activities including soil decompaction, wetland restoration, woody debris loading, and planting of native trees and shrubs restored habitat for the formerly-endangered West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel, native brook trout, and numerous species that inhabit wetlands. In addition, restoration of vernal wetland pools will improve watershed conditions by preventing erosion and subsequent sedimentation in Lambert Run.