Chesapeake Bay Program

West Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Update

WV Chesapeake Bay Program Website

Fall 2014, Issue 16

Quick Links


U.S. EPA's Chesapeake Bay TMDL website


What's My Watershed?

In This Issue
Help Needed to Plant Trees in Martinsburg
Canaan Valley Institute Programs
Upcoming Chainsaw Safety and Forest Health Workshop
Upcoming Widmyer Wetland Dedication Ceremony
Wetland Tour and Plant ID Event
Spotlight: Warm Springs Watershed Group
Eastern Panhandle Hosts Agriculture Field Day
Petersburg Drain Sign Contest
Potomac Valley Audubon Society Programs
FSA and NRCS Riparian Buffers Priority
Wood Chipper Research with The Freshwater Institute
2014 Bay Agreement Funding Changes
Stream Scholars Summer Camp

Help Needed to Plant Trees in Martinsburg, WV!

 Gateway Garden Club


Volunteers are needed for the planting of 24 trees at the new Children's Garden and Wurzburg Dog Park at Ambrose Park in Martinsburg on Friday, October 10th, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to approx. noon. Ambrose Park is at the corner of Mall Dr. and Wall St. behind the Martinsburg Mall. The Gateway Garden Club is organizing this event in partnership with WV Project CommuniTree. WV Project CommuniTree promotes tree planting and education on public land through volunteerism in the Potomac Headwaters of West Virginia (Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral, Morgan, & Pendleton counties). To get involved, contact Sue Ann Palmer at (304) 267-6579.

Tuscarora Creek Restoration Project

Jennifer Newland, Canaan Valley Institute

 MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA - Better habitat for aquatic species, including deeper pools and cooler water, are part of the plans for a project to restore a stretch of Tuscarora Creek just west of Martinsburg, WV.  Canaan Valley Institute (CVI) is excited about working with local landowners, the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on the project, expected to be constructed next summer. The new project near Martinsburg will re-route the stream around an old dam. This dam prevents fish from moving upstream and downstream and also reduces stream velocities that are required to flush sediment present in all storm flows.

  Besides the stream restoration project, there is also funding available to help residents along the creek pump out their septic tanks and even replace septic systems that are not working the way they should. CVI project manager Kristin Mielcarek notes that projects work together. "We are helping homeowners create a value from a liability by providing 60% of the cost of a new septic system." 

To read full article, click here. 

 Join the Eastern Panhandle for a Chainsaw Safety and Forest Health Workshop

Heather Ishman, Eastern Panhandle Conservation District


On Saturday, October 4th from 8:00 am-12 noon, the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District and the Chesapeake Bay Program will be offering a free workshop on Chainsaw Safety and Forest Health. This workshop will go over the basic maintenance and operation of your personal chainsaw. The class will then go into proper timber management strategies that will reduce erosion and environmental impacts while getting the most in return. Instructor Rex Arnett will also demonstrate to the group how to properly fell a tree. Space is still available and an RSVP is required by October 1 to Heather Duncan by calling 304 263 4376 x 4 or by e-mail hishman@epcd.us. A certificate of attendance will be given to each participant and PPE and functioning chainsaw is required. 

Upcoming Widmyer Wetland Dedication Ceremony 

Heather Ishman, Eastern Panhandle Conservation District


On Monday, October 13 beginning at 1:30 pm, the Widmyer Wetlands will be officially dedicated for the installation of new educational signage. This project has been in the works for some time and the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District, Warm Springs Watershed Association, Morgan County Public Schools, Two Rivers Giving Circle, and the Chesapeake Bay Program are excited for the public unveiling. Local artist Mary Klotz has painted five educational signs that are placed throughout the wetland to enhance the learning experience that the wetland brings to the elementary and high school. There will also be additional signage placed along Warm Springs Run indicating why the banks of the Run are not mowed and the importance of that in relation to erosion. Anyone interested in attending is welcomed and an RSVP is requested, but not required, by contacting Heather Duncan at hishman@epcd.us by October 10th. 

Wetland Tour and Plant Identification Event

Warm Springs Watershed Association


Location: Berkeley Springs, in Morgan County, WV

On Wednesday, October 8, starting at 9:00AM, Norman Dean and Herb Peddicord will lead tours of the wetlands area just south of Widmyer Elementary School. Norman will help participants identify native wildflowers, while Herb will focus on the identity of the trees in the wetlands. Instruction on the proper way to prune and mulch trees will also be provided.  If any invasive species are found, there will be instruction on how best to eradicate those scourges to the balance of the wetlands.

After these opportunities for learning, participants will do maintenance work in the wetlands. Some of the tasks that need to be completed are removing protective covering from trees planted several years ago, pruning, weeding around the base of trees, and mulching. We should have completed our work around noon.

Please bring tools for weeding, cutting wire cages, pruning and something with which to transport mulch. Since this is an area where deer spend time, i.e., deer ticks might be found, wear gloves, protective clothing and bring bug spray.

There is a very good chance that persons participating in this education/service opportunity will have a sneak preview of five educational kiosks that should be installed in the wetlands area by that time. The kiosks are a joint project of the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District and the Warm Springs Watershed Association. Funding was provided by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Two Rivers Giving Circle. The official "unveiling" of the kiosks will take place on Monday, October 13 at 1:30 (see above item), and organizers want the area to look its best.

The rain date for this event is Thursday, October 9, from 9:00-noon.

If you plan to participate in this event, please contact Kate Lehman at goldfairy39@gmail.com or at 304-279-0717.

New Focus on Outreach Strategy with Bay Partners

WV Chesapeake Bay Partners


In July, the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) partners in West Virginia determined the need to improve communication and outreach about the CBP and the progress that West Virginia has made with its portion of the CBP. From this idea, a Communication Workgroup was formed to help get the word out about these efforts. Andrew Stacy, communications specialist with the West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA), has taken on the task of facilitating the meetings, working with partners to help create a Communication Strategy for the CBP in West Virginia.

The Communication Strategy will help CBP partners define their audience, ensure clear and consistent messaging, and maintain a timeline to stay up to date on current events. Workgroup meetings have included representatives from the WVCA, West Virginia University Extension, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Eastern Panhandle Conservation District, Elks Run Watershed Group, Cacapon Institute and The Downstream Project.

One way of improving communication and outreach is through the new "Meet the Watershed Group" section in the Quarterly Bay Newsletter. Starting this month, we will highlight a West Virginia watershed group or other nonprofit organization located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It is an opportunity for everyone to take a look at what other volunteer and nonprofit groups are doing to make a difference in our state for the Chesapeake Bay and local waters!

If you have any input, or would like more information about the West Virginia Chesapeake Bay Communication Workgroup, please contact Andrew Stacy at astacy@wvca.us

Meet the Watershed Group: Warm Springs Watershed Association

Submitted by Kate Lehman, President of the WSWA

Warm Springs Watershed Association

Board members Norman Dean, Bob Wurster, Betty Harmison, Andy Swaim and Kate Lehman  

The mission statement of the Warm Springs Watershed Association (WSWA) is "to protect and restore Warm Springs Run and its watershed through action based on education and the establishment of partnerships with concerned citizens, civic organizations, and governmental agencies of Morgan County and the state of West Virginia."

If WSWA is known for anything, it is the partnerships it has established with other organizations in a collaborative effort to protect and restore the Run.

The Eastern Panhandle Conservation District, Morgan County School Board, local artist Mary Klotz, and WSWA are about to complete a project to install five educational kiosks into a wetlands area reestablished by the EPCD in 2009. The wetlands are located just south of Widmyer Elementary School.   See the last two upcoming events on the sidebar of this newsletter for more information.

EPCD and WSWA are also currently working with Morgan County businesses interested in becoming better stewards of the Run. WSWA members, Heather (Ishman) Duncan and Suzy Lucas will create a list of best management practices that could be adopted by businesses along Warm Springs Run and in the watershed. Businesses can inventory current practices and then choose BMPs that will help to protect and restore the Run. Upon successful implementation of these practices, WSWA will provide businesses with plaques they can display. The names of these businesses will also be listed on the WSWA website and Face Book page.

 For the full article, click here. 



Eastern Panhandle Hosts Agricultural Field Day for Local Producers 

Suzy Lucas, WV Conservation Agency

Participants of the Eastern Panhandle Agriculture Field Day.


If you were out for a drive on Winchester Grade Road in Berkeley Springs, WV on the afternoon of Saturday, September 13th you may have noticed signs pointing towards the "Eastern Panhandle Agricultural Field Day", people standing in a corn field passing around clumps of soil, or you may have found yourself driving behind hay wagons full of people (62 people to be exact!) on their way to learn about ways to enhance their farming operations.

The Agricultural Field Day was an educational program that featured four stations: "Soil Testing and Nutrient Management", "Pasture Management", "Cover Crops and Soil Health", and "Cost Share Programs, Riparian Buffers & Stream Health". Participants learned valuable lessons at each station such as how to utilize nutrient management on the farm, establishing a rotational grazing system and measuring pasture productivity, the use of cover crops to improve soil health and nitrogen management, assessing stream health, and installing riparian buffers through the USDA CREP program.

While all of the above are equally important to agricultural productivity and sustainability, the highlight of the day was guest speaker, Troy Bishopp, AKA "The Grass Whisperer", who came all the way from Deansboro, NY to "whisper" in the paddocks of Berkeley Springs about pasture management. "The Grass Whisperer" showed everyone what a "cow-day" looks like (in other words, the area of pasture that 1 cow will graze down in 1 day), looked at pasture composition and density, and discussed methods of rotational grazing that establish more uniform grazing patterns and ultimately increase pasture productivity. Troy explained that the key to making quality pasture is giving you grass plenty of "fertility and rest, rest and fertility!" The "fertility" being the manure that, through a properly established rotational system, would be evenly spread over each paddock. The "rest" being the time that the paddock goes un-grazed while the cattle are rotated through other paddocks, allowing the grass to re-establish itself into a dense and healthy stand. 

 To read full article click here

Petersburg Hosts Drain Sign Contest for Storm Drains 

Melissa Merritt, WV Conservation Agency

The Top 3 from the Petersburg Storm Drain Competition: From top: first place winner was Isaac Snyder, second place was Isaac Nazelrodt, and third place was Jenna Burgess.

In many states, cities are taking the initiative to label stormwater drains with signs to bring awareness of how everyone can prevent water pollution. As of this past spring, the City of Petersburg chose to follow suit with its own water awareness project. The 5th grade class of Petersburg Elementary school recently took part in a contest to design the best drain label to protect the South Branch River from pollution. In the spring of 2014, students were asked to draw any picture that would convey the reason why people shouldn't "dump" or pollute near the drains of Petersburg, WV. The purpose of the project is to remind residents that anything dumped onto streets and lawns can be washed into the drains when it rains, which lead straight into the South Branch River, which eventually leads to the Chesapeake Bay.

The first place winner of the competition was Isaac Snyder, second place was Isaac Nazelrodt, and third place was Jenna Burgess. The installation of these drain signs will take place in the fall of 2014. There are 61 drains in Petersburg, West Virginia, and by this upcoming school year, every one of them will be marked with the artwork from these students reminding folks to be mindful to keep our rivers clean! To read full article, click here. 


 Potomac Valley Audubon Society Partners with Cacapon Institute to Promote Growing Native and Buffer Zones

Ellen Murphy, Potomac Valley Audubon Society

The PVAS is partnering with the Cacapon Institute to bring tree education to almost 112 different classes this year!


The Potomac Valley Audubon Society (PVAS) is starting two new programs in schools this year focusing on the importance of trees and growing native! The PVAS is collaborating with Cacapon Institute to include the Potomac Watershed Partnership's Growing Native seed collection program in their current elementary watershed program.  The fourth grade program will include a seed collection or planting in all the classrooms.  This year, there will also be a new fifth grade program that emphasizes the importance of trees as buffer zones and will include sessions on tree structure and seed planting. PVAS is also creating a "grow-out" station at one or more schools in each county (Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan), as well as Washington County in Maryland. The seeds will be grown at the schools during this school year and next, creating a two year project for fourth graders.  The PVAS will be serving 18 schools in the four counties (about 112 classes). For more information, contact Ellen Murphy at Ellen@PotomacAudubon.org. 


 Riparian Buffers High Priority for Farm Service Agency and National Resources Conservation Service

Eric Sprague, Director, Chesapeake Forest Programs, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Riparian forest buffers are very important to West Virginia's goal of keeping the Chesapeake Bay clean, with over 3,442 acres of buffers planted in WV since 2002.


MORGANTOWN, WV September 3, 2014 - The West Virginia USDA Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service in partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay recently convened state agency personnel and key stakeholders to develop strategies for accelerating the implementation of riparian forest buffers. Forested areas alongside streams, known as "Riparian Forest Buffers," are unique best management practices in that they serve the Chesapeake Bay watershed at multiple levels. Forest buffers reduce nutrient and sediment loads from entering into adjacent waterways, but also serve as habitat corridors for wildlife and help instrument greenhouse gas mitigation. Forest buffers have been central management practices supported by federal, state and private partners who have worked together for the past 30 years to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed has been a leader in riparian forest implementation, and the Farm Service Agency's voluntary Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a cornerstone of their success. CREP is a federally funded private-land conservation program that to date has disbursed approximately $9 million to landowners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed portion of West Virginia, leading to greater than 3,442 acres of forest buffers restored in the watershed since 2002. USDA NRCS and partners provide critical technical assistance and complementary financial assistance to implement CREP and forest buffers generated by other federal, state, and local programs.

To read full article click here.

'Chipping' Away at the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Nitrogen Load

Dr. Laura Christianson, The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute, Shepherdstown, WV


Dr. Laura Christianson and intern Christine Lepine testing monitoring dissolved oxygen in a pilot-scale woodchip bioreactor - See more at: http://www.conservationfund.org/our-conservation-strategy/major-programs/freshwater-institute/the-bioreactor/#sthash.NfjDe39H.dpuf 

A group of Shepherdstown, West Virginia engineers and scientists are 'chipping' away at Chesapeake Bay nitrogen pollution using a new, farmer-friendly technology. Dr. Laura Christianson and colleagues at the Freshwater Institute, the research campus of the non-profit The Conservation Fund, are researching the potential of denitrification 'woodchip' bioreactors to reduce nitrate loads from both point and nonpoint sources. More simply, a woodchip bioreactor consists of woodchip-filled trench through which nitrate-laden waters are routed. Denitrifying bacteria living in the surrounding soil colonize the woodchips, and by using the carbon in the woodchips as food, are able to convert nitrate in the water to benign nitrogen gas that makes up the majority of our atmosphere. By providing these native, "good" bacteria an extra food supply (that is, the woodchips), we are able to remove nitrate from the polluted water before that water arrives at its receiving water body. Dr. Christianson has been designing and researching woodchip bioreactors since 2008 in Iowa, and there are now roughly fifty woodchip bioreactors installed across the US Midwest. As this technology has spread from the Upper Mississippi River Basin to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the Freshwater Institute has worked with groups such as the Midshore Riverkeepers Conservancy (Easton, MD) on woodchip bioreactor design and monitoring. Interest in this simple yet engineering-based technology continues to grow, in part, because with this approach, we're really just enhancing a natural part of the nitrogen cycle. In a sense, woodchip bioreactors are just a "chip off the 'ole block"! For more information on woodchip bioreactors, please contact the Freshwater Institute (www.freshwaterinstitute.org) or The Conservation Fund (www.conservationfund.org). 

2014 Chesapeake Bay Agreement to Bring Changes in Funding 

Andy Yost, West Virginia Department of Agriculture

You can view the new Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement here


Some people make things happen.  Some people observe what is happening.  Then other people just stand around, scratching their heads while wondering what in the world just happened?

Some folks fall into that last category when it comes to Governor Tomblin signing the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Agreement.  West Virginia is on the Agreement, but now what?  What changes can be expected?  What should West Virginia's agencies, neighborhoods and agriculturalists be doing now to make the best of coming opportunities?

A copy of the Agreement is not hard to find.  In fact, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture displayed copies at several fairs in conjuncture with its booths.  It is available online at www.chesapeakebay.net/chesapeakebaywatershedagreement/page .

The Agreement contains measurable goals and projected outcomes that the Bay Partnership will strive for. It serves as a vision of restoring the Chesapeake Bay through improving the conditions of the watersheds feeding into it.  While the Agreement sets this mission, it allows the partners to turn goals into implemented practices.   

So what does it all mean for West Virginia? 

 To read full article, click here

Stream Scholars Summer Camp Investigated the Potomac River Basin

 Molly Barkman, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Cacapon Institute

2014 Cacapon Institute Stream Scholars!


Cacapon Institute's (CI) Stream Scholars Summer Camp is a five day investigation into the water quality and ecology of the Potomac River Watershed from the headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay. Our eight Scholars from across the Potomac Headwaters of WV came together to learn about rivers and watersheds, experience new places and ideas, and have a great time. Be sure to check out the video of their week long adventure at www.cacaponinstitute.org!


Thanks to generous support from CI's membership, Outdoor Nation, the WV Chesapeake Bay Program, and the Evenor Armington Fund, we were able to provide five days of education, field studies, canoeing and camping.  CI is opening the door on some of the skills and knowledge necessary for our youth to become lifelong stewards of their environment.

 To read full article, click here
About WV's Potomac Tributary Strategy Team
Fourteen percent (14%) of West Virginia drains into the Potomac River and on to the Chesapeake Bay. In June of 2002, Governor Bob Wise signed the Chesapeake Bay Program Water Quality Initiative Memorandum of Understanding. By signing this memo, West Virginia agreed to develop goals and objectives to reduce nutrient and sediment loading to the Chesapeake Bay. 

To help WV accomplish these goals, Project Teams began working in targeted watersheds. These groups build partnerships, gather funding, and identify priority projects that are most important to their local communities.

Reducing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in local creeks and rivers will mean healthier water resources that are better able to sustain tourism, fishing, drinking water supplies, wildlife habitat, and other uses. Each one of us can act locally to help achieve these goals.


WV's Potomac Tributary Strategy Team