Chesapeake Bay Program

West Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Update

WV Chesapeake Bay Program Website

Winter 2014-2015, Issue 17

Quick Links


U.S. EPA's Chesapeake Bay TMDL website


What's My Watershed?

In This Issue
CommuniTree 2015 Application Available
WV Sustainable Schools Awards and Grant Application Available
Upcoming SWCS Workshop Opportunity
Spotlight: Opequon Creek Project Team
Wind Dance Farm and Earth Education Center Tree Planting Success
USACE Analysis of Sediment and Pollution Flow Impacts to Bay
Aerial Cover Cropping
Charles Town Middle School Rain Garden Planting
Collaboration of Bay Partners
Warm Springs Watershed Association Monitor for Fecal Coliform
The City Of Romney's Stormwater Management Efforts
Harpers Ferry Middle School learns to monitor Benthic Macroinvertebrates

WV Project CommuniTree 2015 Application Available Now!

 Tanner Haid, Urban Watershed Forester

 CommuniTree and its partners invite groups in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia (Grant, Hardy, Pendleton, Hampshire, Mineral, Jefferson, Morgan, Berkeley counties) to apply for tree kits to plant on public land. To be eligible, groups are responsible for organizing, coordinating, and planning a community tree planting through this competitive grant. 

 For an application, click here, or visit CommuniTree Webpage.

WV Sustainable Schools Awards and Grant Program Now Open!

Submitted by Kellee Waddell, The Mountain Institute  

The WV Sustainable Schools (WVSS) application process is now open. In its fourth year, WVSS will again recognize schools that offer sustainability education to boost academic achievement and community engagement; save energy and reduce costs in their facilities; and protect health and foster wellness for students and staff. The application to become a WV Sustainable School is available at https://wvde.state.wv.us/sustainable-schools/application.html. WVSS has been developed under the framework of the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools program (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools/index.html). To be nominated as a U.S. Green Ribbon School, WV schools must first apply to the WV Sustainable Schools program. All public and private schools are invited to apply-the application deadline is January 6. For more information about the state and federal programs, or to access the intent to apply form, please visit http://wvde.state.wv.us/sustainable-schools/ or email sustainableschools@wvde.state.wv.us .

Additionally this year, we are offering a small grant opportunity to help schools move towards sustainability. Visit our Sustainable Steps program page at https://wvde.state.wv.us/sustainable-schools/awards-and-criteria.html

 Registration Open for SWCS Workshop in January

Melissa Merritt, Vice President of the WV Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society


On January 13, 2015 from 9am until 2pm, the WV Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society will be hosting a workshop focusing on natural resources including agriculture and water quality- related topics. A variety of topics will be presented, including the regulation of Marcellus shale activity, woodchip bioreactors, composting, and trout conservation through work with local agricultural producers. Presenters include WVDEP, Trout Unlimited, The Conservation Fund, and EcoDrum. The workshop will be held at the Steer Steakhouse in Weston, WV. Registration is free and everyone is welcome to attend. Please register by January 9, 2015. For the full agenda, click here.

Berkeley County Farm Named West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year

Andrew Stacy, West Virginia Conservation Agency


 FLATWOODS, W.Va. - The West Virginia Conservation Partnership is proud to announce that Butler Farms, located in Berkeley County, is the recipient of the 2014 West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year Award. The farm, owned and operated by Bill Butler and his son Todd, was deemed the top farm in the Mountain State for its outstanding practices in the field of conservation of natural resources.

West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick presented the Butler's with an award plaque and a $1,000 check, on Tuesday, October 28 at the 2014 West Virginia Conservation Awards and Recognition Banquet in Flatwoods.

"Congratulations to Bill and Todd Butler, and their entire family for being chosen as the 2014 West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year," said Commissioner Helmick. "The Butler Farms operation in Berkeley County, and the other two farms selected as this year's finalists-Swift Level Farm in Greenbrier County and Clearview Farm in Brooke County-are all shining examples of how farming can be performed while protecting and conserving West Virginia's soil, land and water."

Butler Farms has been in operation for 95 years with Todd Butler being the fourth generation of his family to farm this land. The farm has seen immense growth throughout the years, evolving from a sustainable farm for the family, to a dairy, to the diversified operation it is today.

The 913 acre farm, located in Inwood, has three components that make up the operation. They raise 174 head of cattle, have a very successful sportsmen hunting operation and maintain a large apple orchard.

"This really is a great honor," said Bill Butler. "I wish the rest of the family could be here to see this. I'd just like to thank everyone that made this possible."

In addition to the award plaque and check, Steve Cronin, Agricultural Specialist with Middletown Tractor Sales of Fairmont presented the Butler's with 200 hours or four months use of a brand new John Deere tractor. To read the full press release, click here

Spotlight on Opequon Creek Project Team; Intern Program for Tree Maintenance

 Submitted by Gary Sylvester, Treasurer of OCPT


for OCPT winter 2014 article
One of the interns operates a water pump

 Opequon Creek Project Team (OCPT) has, as one of its goals, organizing and participating in riparian buffer plantings within the Opequon Creek watershed.  Many other organizations in the Eastern Panhandle of WV (Potomac Valley Audubon, City of Ranson, City of Martinsburg, WV Division of Forestry, Cacapon Institute) have had similar plantings both within the Opequon Creek watershed as well as in surrounding areas.   Years of experience and observation have led us to make changes in our planting techniques, most notably the change from large numbers of bare root plantings to a smaller number of larger container plants.  With the smaller number of plants, all of them are now staked and caged or "tubed" in order to protect them from deer browsing.   However, we still have had extensive mortality in these plantings which concerns us.   The most common factor in survival, based on observation, has been the ability of the landowner to maintain the planting for a few years while the plants get established.  Many do not have the time or equipment to properly maintain and water the plantings during the hot summer months. 


In 2013, OCPT set out to resolve this problem.  The proposed solution was to  hire a summer intern to provide maintenance to the plantings, with priority being placed on the newest plantings.  Our biggest hurdle was the lack of infrastructure to hire and supervise this intern.  We reached out to Herb Peddicord, watershed forester for the WV Division of Forestry (WVDOF) to see if he could help.  

 To read more, click here.


Stormwater Innovation in Downtown Moorefield

Carla Hardy, WV Conservation Agency

The Pave Drain Interlocking Blocks shown with Community Christmas Tree


Progressive things are happening in Moorefield!  What used to be an unsightly and empty municipal parking lot in the heart of downtown is slowly being turned into a visually attractive, state of the art stormwater management green space. 

The West Virginia Conservation Agency approached the Hardy County Rural Development Authority during the summer of 2014 about the feasibility of applying a bit of new and innovative technology in the area of stormwater management practice on their property.  The lot had all the qualities desirable for a great demonstration including the fact that it was a slated to be blacktopped in the very near future.  It is on public property, has high visibility, struggled with existing drainage issues and the county was aware of the challenge of meeting the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.  RDA members were very excited to learn about opportunities to make the improvement in their community on a property that was to soon become the focal point of the historic downtown. 

Stormwater is classified as precipitation that does not evaporate or soak into the ground but instead runs across the land into the nearest waterway.  In this particular case, the stormwater would have entered the drains along Main Street and eventually would have ended up in the river.  West Virginia has entered into an agreement with all of the surrounding Bay states and the District of Columbia to reduce the amount of nutrients and sediment flowing to the local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.  One of the significant players that must make these mandated reductions is the urban sector.  For full article, click here.

Wind Dance Farm and Earth Education Center Plants Riparian Buffer to Reduce Bacteria in Sleepy Creek

Suzy Lucas, WV Conservation Agency

The volunteers for the Wind Dance Farm and Earth Education Center Tree Planting.


Wind Dance Farm and Earth Education Center is a nonprofit located on a tributary of Sleepy Creek in Morgan County, WV called Iden Run. Run by Leslie Devine- Milbourne, the Earth Education Center offers nature based educational programs to homeschooled children of all ages throughout the school year and summer camps for all children. As an educator and steward of the environment, Leslie recognized the need to plant trees along Iden Run where there were none in order to protect the run that she uses in many of her educational programs. In addition to Wind Dance Farm, a neighboring property owned by Paul Fitzpatrick was also in need of a riparian buffer. Through an EPA Clean Water Act 319 Watershed Grant and technical assistance from WV Division of Forestry, WV Conservation Agency, and Sleepy Creek Watershed Association, Wind Dance Farm and Earth Education Center and their neighbor Paul Fitzpatrick were able to establish a 570 ft. long X 35 ft. wide riparian buffer along Iden Run, in addition to 525 feet of 10 ft. buffer and .4 acres of afforestation. The 35 ft. buffer will have the greatest benefit to the stream and will reduce up to 6.32 E+11 colony forming units of fecal coliform/100 ml. All of the trees will infiltrate runoff and help prevent bacteria from wildlife and agriculture from reaching the stream. This planting was installed by 40 hardworking volunteers, many of which were students of the Earth Education Center, on Saturday, November 15, 2014. Tree and shrub species were chosen not only for their water quality value, but for their educational value to the Earth Education Center and will be used as an educational tool for many years to come! 


Army Corps, partners, release new report that analyzes sediment and pollution flow impacts to Chesapeake Bay

Submitted by Sarah Gross, 

Public Affairs Specialist, Corporate Communication Office USACE, Baltimore District


US Army Corps of Engineers

New report released for public comment analyzes sediment and nutrient flow impacts to Chesapeake Bay from Lower Susquehanna River Watershed and a series of hydroelectric dams - names watershed-wide nutrient reduction strategies as key.


With startling imagery of sediment plumes making their way to the Chesapeake Bay from upstream sources after major storms, great focus has centered around where this pollution comes from and what steps can be taken to manage it.


Shortly after Tropical Storm Lee hit the East Coast in 2011, the groundwork was laid to begin analyzing the movement of sediment, and associated nutrient loads, and impacts within the 26,000-square-mile Lower Susquehanna River Watershed to the upper Chesapeake Bay.


"We worked with a team of inter-agency experts, using current scientific information and the best modeling tools available in order to understand the complex relationship between river flow and sediment, and ecological resources," said Col. Trey Jordan, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District commander. "Our partners undertaking ongoing efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding watershed are now armed with better science to make decisions to protect water quality, habitat and aquatic life."


A draft report was released Nov. 13, 2014, by USACE and non-federal sponsor the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).

To read full article, click here.

Farming Takes Flight with Aerial Cover Cropping

Andy Yost, West Virginia Department of Agriculture


A helicopter appears over the horizon of standing field corn, the blades echoing off nearby hills.  It slowly descends. The bucket attached to it contacts the ground as the pilot watches the ground man's hand signals.  With the pull of a string from a suspended bulk agriculture bag, 400 pounds of rye seed empty into the bucket.  Another hand signal and the chopper lifts away.  Whole process: less than ten seconds.  In about five minutes it returns, having seeded a 70 foot swath at 45 mph. 

Cover cropping is beneficial to soils, farms and waterways.  For the farmer it adds an extra crop into the rotation to be harvested the following spring, or it can function as green manure, adding organic matter and improving soil structure.  Cover crops protect fields from erosion while taking up excess nutrients, keeping soil on the farm and out of water bodies.

Despite the positives, implementing cover crops can be challenging to a farm operation.  Every hour counts in the fall harvest, especially when wet weather shrinks the harvesting window.  In that same window, time must be set aside to plant cover crops.  This ties up precious man-hours and equipment during the busy season.  Then there is the cost of fuel, seed, and equipment maintenance.

An additional problem arises when crops will not be taken off early enough to germinate cover crops.  A wet fall pushes corn and soybean harvest back even further.  Even as this article goes to press in December, there are still many acres of standing field corn in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. 

There are two conventional planting methods for cover crops.  Broadcast seeders which scatter seed on the ground or drilling of a grain crop which involves a planter that cuts a trench and places the seed directly in a row.  Either way requires conditions dry enough to get a tractor in the field after the previous crop has been harvested. 

This brings us back to aerial applications. To read full article, click here.

Charles Town Middle School Science Club Students Plant a Rain Garden  

 Molly Barkman, Cacapon Institute


Science Club students from 6th to 8th grade at Charles Town Middle School, Charles Town, WV, participated in a rain garden planting. During the spring of 2014 the Science Club installed a 250 gallon cistern at the student entrance. This began addressing the severe water issues in the area. The cistern is now part of a greater project. A 350 square foot rain garden and an additional 275 gallon cistern were installed on October 8th.

Science Club members and lead teacher, Stephanie Diamond, pose in front of their newly installed rain garden that will resolve sidewalk flooding issues and beautify the student entrance to the school.

     Science Club students participated in an hour long education program to discuss the impact their rain garden would be making on the local watershed and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The rain garden and two cisterns capture a significant amount of water that would otherwise run off the school grounds, picking up sediment and carrying it to a nearby stream. 

     Construction began September 29th at the school and took two days to complete. A backhoe was used to dig a trench for the underdrain to be installed. This underdrain will allow water to pool and spread evenly underground then begin to infiltrate deeper soil layers. A vertical pipe was installed to allow students to monitor the water level underground. Once the underdrain tubing was placed, highly pervious materials of gravel and sand filled in the trench with top soil as the final layer. Sand was mixed with the remaining top soil over the surface area of the rain garden and tilled. A border of landscaping timbers were the final touch on the overall structure of the rain garden.    

     Twenty-four Science Club students, two parents, and three teachers installed 105 native flowering plants and planted six Black Chokeberries at the student entrance. Students worked efficiently to complete the planting and mulching within the two hours. As a group the students were able to place their hand print on the newly installed cistern as a reminder of their hard work. The entrance was transformed from a blank space that flooded to a visually appealing landscape that is controlling flooding. 

Collaboration: A Staple of Conservation in West Virginia

 Michael Harman, Extension Instructor- Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources


In West Virginia there is a rich history of farmers and conservation folks working together on voluntary measures to improve water quality. The voluntary implementation of thousands of Best Management Practices (BMP) by West Virginia farms with support from the Chesapeake Bay Program is a classic example of the deep rooted commitment to conservation in the mountain state. This commitment to working together and conservation extends to conservation professionals across agency boundaries. Last fall following the WV Conservation Partnership Annual Conference, a group of Agriculture and Conservation Professionals from West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle Conservation District realized that while we often work to help one another, true collaboration is far less frequent. Collectively, the group decided that working together could initiate new and exciting opportunities for the people we serve and this was the beginning of the Eastern Panhandle Agriculture and Conservation Professional's Working Group. The group entails an informal meeting on a semi-regular basis to investigate opportunities to collaborate and assist each individual with their goals and their agency's goals. Within a few meetings, the group decided to tackle some of the issues believed to be limiting local farmer's profitability and protect the environment. To read full article, click here.

Warm Springs Run Watershed Association Continue to Monitor for Fecal Coliform in Warm Springs

Source of runoff into areas of Warm Springs Run that had high fecal coliform bacteria counts  

 Kate Lehman, WSWA President

Warm Springs Run (WSR) is located in Morgan County, West Virginia. An 11.8 mile-long stream, it flows from central Morgan County north into the Potomac River. Based on WVDEP data collected in 2007 and 2009, the Run was listed by WVDEP on the 2012 303(d) list as impaired due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. High levels of fecal coliform bacteria have been recorded above the sewage treatment plant. While most of the houses in the watershed are hooked into the sewer system, there are areas where homes have septic tanks.

In 2013 the Warm Springs Watershed Association (WSWA) was awarded a Stream Partners grant to do 'pre-TMDL monitoring' for fecal coliform bacteria. The goal was to gain a better understanding of possible sources of fecal coliform contamination as well as to inform the pending TMDL source tracking study. WSWA worked with Cacapon Institute (CI) to establish a Quality Assurance Project Plan, which was approved by WVDEP and the EPA. Staff from CI and trained WSWA volunteers collected and tested samples at eight locations in the Run between July of 2013 and June of 2014.  CI submitted the final report for that study to the WSWA in June 2014.

The results of the 2013-14 study were "inconclusive," which is to say that areas with high levels of fecal coliform bacteria on one date were near normal when subsequently tested, and vice versa.  WSWA thus asked if funds not spent from the original 2013 Stream Partners grant could be used to hire CI to conduct a limited amount of additional sampling for the purpose of source tracking bacterial "hot spots." For full article, click here.

Romney City Hall Adds Stormwater Management

Alana Hartman, West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection


In October, the City of Romney's staff created a new bioswale at Romney's City Hall on Route 50 in Romney, adding porous soil, berms and plants to one side of the parking lot that will slow down and filter pollutants from rain and snow melt runoff.  Herb Peddicord, of the West Virginia Division of Forestry, delivered five black gum trees delivered to the site, and 28 inkberry bushes were also planted.

Romney City Hall for Winter 2014-15
Bioswale treats runoff at Romney City Hall


The City of Romney was instrumental in the project because they embraced the idea of retrofitting their carport roof, parking lot and driveway to accommodate the bioswale practice. The City provided the required match to leverage $12,000 of WV DEP's Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant.  Some of the match came from the contribution of labor and equipment.  The grant provided consulting services from Gordon, as well as bio-filter soil, and administration through Region 8 Planning and Development Council.  This project will passively treat runoff before it enters the storm drain, resulting in cleaner, cooler water reaching Big Run and the South Branch Potomac River. 


The City plans to capture even more runoff from its property by installing rain barrels at 3 downspouts, which will supply water for the shrubs and flowers in Celebration Park.  To read more,


Harpers Ferry Middle School 7th Grade Class Identify Benthic Macroinvertebrates

Heather Duncan, Outreach Specialist, Eastern Panhandle Conservation District

7th Grade students have learned how to help with the monthly water testing of Elks Run in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. 


Harpers Ferry Middle School 7th grade students are now able to attend the monthly water testing of Elks Run. The students are able to identify the benthic macroinvertabrates with a watershed specialist in their 7th grade year and will then test the water in their 8th grade year. This gives the students a full outdoor watershed field experience and allows the students to fully study the health of Elks Run by seeing what "bugs" are in the stream and then comparing their results with the chemistry portion. Only certain aquatic life are able to live in specific water conditions and this is a hands on way to reach more students. Past helpers include Suzy Lucas, WVCA and Dan McGee, Harpers Ferry National Park. 

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