There is no telling what we can accomplish when people start working together. Two local watershed groups are perfect examples of this fact and they show no signs of letting up.
The Buffalo Creek Watershed Association and the Huff Creek Watershed have been hard at work for years and their dedication and commitment to the streams are paying off in numerous ways.
The Buffalo Creek Watershed Association has just finished the monumental task of completing the third phase of their stream restoration efforts. With funding provided from the WVDEP the group has been able to install approximately 200 log and boulder structures placed in the stream to improve fish habitat and to help alleviate bank erosion and flooding.
All of this work has been completed in a stream that less than 50 years ago was decimated by the worst coal mining related disaster in the State’s history when the Buffalo Creek Mine Impoundment broke and wiped out everything in its path. Ask someone who has been to Buffalo Creek in recent years and remembers the disaster, and I am betting they would not have ever expected to see the stream restored, much less returned to the WVDNR spring trout stocking list.
Without the hard work of the dedicated volunteers that return would likely never have happened. They weren’t content to just be returned to the stocking program. Their continued efforts to improve habitat along the stream has earned them recognition from the folks in charge of the trout program and an additional 200 pounds of trout per month.
Seeing the success of the Buffalo Creek Watershed Association has sparked the interest in nearby Huff Creek which now has two watershed group of its own. The Huff Creek Watershed Association has hit the ground running on both the Logan County side and the Wyoming County stretch of stream and is making strides just as they have on Buffalo Creek.
The Huff Creek Group has already been instrumental in getting a massive sewage system underway and by doing so, has improved the water quality all along Huff Creek. They are working on several projects to get their own stream restoration projects going to add fish habitat and help slow bank erosion along the stream.
Those aren’t the only projects the group has planned and with a little luck and a lot of hard work, the Huff Creek Watershed Association plans to get Huff Creek back on the WVDNR Spring Trout Stocking program before you know it.
These are just a few of the major accomplishments of the groups, but that isn’t all they do. One could go on for days talking about the numerous trash cleanup efforts the groups have held, the WVDNR fingerling trout stockings they have helped with, and the public outreach they have done to get local residents to take pride in their stream.
Ask anyone from either group what their favorite activity is and their immediate reply will be the youth fishing days. Both groups host at least one youth day each year and the kids and the volunteers absolutely love it.
The Buffalo Creek Watershed Association has already set this year’s youth fishing day for March 28th, just in time to kick off the student’s spring break week. That is of course if we don’t get another snow storm and the kids lose a few days of spring break. If this happens the group plans to hold the fish until they make sure the kids can enjoy them.
Huff Creek’s youth fishing day won’t be too far behind so kids in the area can potentially double or even triple up on enjoying the fish laden streams. Once they have picked out their days, they will definitely be spreading the word to let the youngsters know.
For more information on the groups, you can check out the Buffalo Creek Watershed Associations Facebook page, or for Huff Creek Watershed you can contact Russell Brown at (304) 583-2157 (Logan County Group) or Tim Jeffrey (304) 682-4956 (Wyoming County Group). They will welcome the help and you can take pride in giving back to a couple of streams, that with a little TLC, will be a fisherman’s paradise just, wait and see.
— Roger Wolfe is an outdoor columnist for Civitas Media. He can be reached at [email protected]