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EIP Breaks Ground on Largest Ever Watershed Restoration in West Virginia

On June 29th, Colonel Leon Parrot, the District Commander of the US Army Corps Huntington District joined Chad Story from the office of U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins, Britanny Vascik from the office of West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, and the Director of the state Department of Natural Resources Bob Fala for a groundbreaking ceremony for the largest mitigation bank in the state.  Work starting this summer will result in over 50 miles of restored stream channels in the Tug Fork and Guyandotte River watersheds, approximately 40 miles south of Charleston, West Virginia.

In consultation with our West Virginia partners at the Canaan Valley Institute (CVI), EIP acquired nearly 10,000 acres that contain multiple, entire drainages exhibiting an array of features in need of restoration that, when addressed comprehensively, will yield significant benefits to the watersheds and aquatic resources of West Virginia. Finding long reaches of restorable streams is a challenge in southern West Virginia due to the topography and nature of historic impacts in need of restoration. EIP will restore important ecological functions to degraded stream features including: former strip mine benches that cut off stream channels from their headwaters; mine access roads built in the stream or its floodplain; failing or “hanging” pipe culverts; and severe erosion and down-cutting.

Restoration work will include rebuilding eroded stream channels with rocks and wood to create pools and areas of fast moving water, stabilizing eroding streambanks, moving roads out of stream beds, reshaping old timber and mining roads so that they no longer funnel storm runoff directly into streams, and removing old culverts that block flow and prevent fish and other aquatic animals from moving freely.  In addition, CVI and partners, including Civil and Environmental Consultants of Bridgeport, Appalachian Stream Restoration of Sumerco, and several other leading contractors are using innovative methods to rebuild steep, headwater streams across mine benches and other challenging features in the rugged landscape. The project will also protect streamside habitat with extensive buffers where land disturbances will be limited. Taken together, this is the most comprehensive watershed restoration ever proposed in southern West Virginia.

For information on mitigation credits from the Southern West Virginia Stream Mitigation Bank, please contact EIP Director of Markets Katherine Birnie at katherine@ecosystempartners.com.