Friends of the Cheat

Friends of the Cheat

FOC staff poses along the bank of Fickey Run, one of the Cheat watershed’s most polluted streams. Although significant progress has been made, there is much more acid mine drainage (AMD) remediation work to be done. Pictured (left to right): Jeremy Sidebottom, Garrett Thompson, and Chris Bern.

Friends of the Cheat is a non-profit watershed group working to restore, preserve and promote the Cheat River watershed in West Virginia.

They have collaborated with industry; local, state, and Federal agencies; and the public, including nearly 40 volunteer landowners, to remediate acid mine drainage from both abandoned coal mines and forfeited mine sites. To date, the group has implemented 15 treatment systems with over $6.5 million in grant funding.

Once named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® (1995), the Cheat is once again alive with fish and predators including bald and golden eagles and river otter. FOC and its River of Promise partners have been instrumental in the river’s restoration; 26 1/2 miles of the Cheat River main stem are slated from removal from the state’s list of degraded waters for pH impairments.

FOC uses outreach to encourage best management practices within the watershed by the public and industry in addition to increasing awareness of the river as a natural and recreational resource. Friends of the Cheat leads local clean-up efforts, from roadside litter to brownfields redevelopment, in an effort to advance economic development and improve public health.

The group maintains 4 public whitewater river accesses, and opened the Upper Cheat River Water Trail in 2013–nearly 40 miles of Class I-II paddling featuring 10 public access sites maintained in cooperation with private landowners and the WV Division of Natural Resources. Additionally, FOC works with public and private partners to advance rail-trail development in Preston County.

The group hosts the annual Cheat River Festival, held the first Saturday of May, along the banks of the Cheat in Albright, WV. Join them for their 20th Cheat Fest on Saturday, May 3, 2014. Learn more at www.cheat.org.

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