American Rivers and the Environmental Protection Agency have selected eight 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.

Project: Frostburg Grows, Grow It Local Greenhouse Project

State: MD
River: Braddock Run
Award: $300,000

Map of Frostburg Grows Project Site

The Western Maryland Resource Conservation & Development Council (WMRCD) is partnering 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 later produce a sustainable source of local fruits and vegetables. Additionally, it will also serve as a facility 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.

Learn more about this project by checking out the following materials:

Project: Marsh Creek Watershed Conservation Easement

State: PA
River: Marsh Creek
Award: $250,000

Marsh Creek Watershed, PA

The grant will help the Land Conservancy of Adams County (LCAC), Pennsylvania implement the Marsh Creek Watershed Conservation Easement project – an effort to preserve more than 147 acres of forest 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.

Learn more about this project by checking out the following materials:

Project: Restoring the Riparian Corridor in Waynesboro’s Riverfront Parks

State: VA
River: South River
Award: $163,875

Ridgeview Park, looking downstream, Waynesboro, VA

The City of Waynesboro, along with Trout Unlimited and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, will restore riverside habitat, stabilize streambanks, and better manage polluted runoff using a variety of green infrastructure techniques to improve water quality at Ridgeview Park and the Wayne Avenue pocket park along the South River. This restoration work will follow 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.

Learn more about this project by checking out the following materials:

Project: Shenandoah Valley Priority Lands Project

State: VA
River: Cedar Creek and North Fork Shenandoah River
Award: $150,000

Shenandoah Valley Lands

The grant will help the Potomac Conservancy, which safeguards the lands and waters of the Potomac region, implement the Shenandoah Valley Priority Lands Project. The project is 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 will be protected.

Learn more about this project by checking out the following materials:

Project: Gandy Ranch Project

State: WV
River: Gandy Creek
Award: $300,000

Gandy Creek, Gandy Ranch Project

The grant will help The Nature Conservancy implement the Gandy Ranch Project – an effort to protect a 455-acre landscape connector between the Laurel Fork Wilderness Area and the Seneca Rocks/Spruce Knob Recreation Area of Monongahela National Forest. The project will restore and reconnect red spruce/northern hardwood forests to expand the habitat of the federally protected West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel and Cheat Mountain Salamander. Partners include The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative, the US Forest Service, and the Mountain Institute.

Learn more about this project by checking out the following materials:

Project: Cacapon Legacy: Building Conservation Hubs and Corridors

State: WV
River: Cacapon and Lost River Watersheds
Award: $150,000

Cacapon and Lost River Watersheds

The grant will help the Cacapon & Lost Rivers Land Trust, Inc. implement the Cacapon Legacy Project – an effort to protect at least 300 acres that links a 463-acre protected parcel to a Conservation Hub preserved by the Trust. The project will preserve diverse and globally important resources of 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 assists with WV Wildlife Action Plan implementation and also protects habitats of high resiliency, providing animal and plant migratory paths as temperatures warm.

Learn more about this project by checking out the following materials:

Project: Mower Tract Ecological Restoration

State: WV
River: Lambert Run
Award: $150,000

Mower Tract Ecological Restoration

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 propose to continue implementation of ecological restoration on 105 acres of the Lambert watershed. A holistic suite of restoration activities including soil decompaction, wetland restoration, woody debris loading, and planting of native trees and shrubs will restore habitat for the federally protected Northern flying squirrel, native brook trout, and numerous species that inhabit wetlands. In addition, restoration of ephemeral stream channels will improve watershed conditions by preventing erosion and subsequent sedimentation in Lambert Run.

Learn more about this project by checking out the following materials: