November 3, 2005
WASHINGTON -- The national conservation organization Trout Unlimited (TU) today announced a new watershed restoration initiative in the headwaters of the Potomac River in West Virginia. This project is the newest addition to the Home Rivers Initiative, a community-based model of watershed restoration that TU has used successfully throughout the country. The initiative is made possible by lead $100,000 grants each from the Dominion Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The Potomac Headwaters Home Rivers Initiative will initially focus on the headwaters of the South Branch of the Potomac in Hardy, Pendleton, and Grant Counties, West Virginia. The initiative will work closely with local communities, landowners, and state and federal agencies to improve fish habitat and water quality through a combination of voluntary measures, including on-the-ground restoration projects. An important emphasis of the project will be expanding habitat for brook trout, the only trout native to the region.
Water quality in the upper Potomac has suffered from a number of factors, including loss of riparian habitat, increased erosion, and increased nutrient pollution. The primary goal of the Potomac Headwaters Initiative is to restore the areas of degraded habitat and connect them with the higher quality habitat upstream. Over the long term, TU hopes to make a measurable impact on the quality of water and trout fishing in the Potomac’s headwaters, and to create a model for community-based watershed restoration in the Appalachian Mountains.
“We are thrilled to have Dominion as an active partner in this project,” said Chris Wood, TU Vice President for Conservation Programs. “Their funding helped get the project off the ground and leverage federal funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Just as importantly, we are looking forward to working with all the Dominion facilities and employees in the watershed.”
Dominion employs more than 300 people in the watershed region at Mt. Storm Power Station, located in the rugged Allegheny Mountains of northeastern West Virginia and at North Branch Power Station, near Bayard, West Virginia.
“We recognize that clean rivers will result from partnerships that include companies, communities, and individuals,” said Eva Hardy, senior vice president-External Affairs & Corporate Communications, Dominion. “The Home Rivers Initiative is a tried and tested program that will lead to a cleaner and safer Potomac River.”
Bryan Moore, a long-time TU volunteer with strong ties to the watershed, has been hired as the project director.
“I am excited to be part of this project and am looking forward to working with local landowners and communities,” said Moore. “It is going to take a lot of hard work on the ground to really improve fishing and water quality, and we need to find solutions that work for local communities and landowners as well as the fish.”
Dominion and TU have engaged in a series of projects over the last several years, including several stream restoration projects in Virginia and West Virginia; construction of an access dock for disabled anglers on Lake Sherando in Augusta County, Virginia; and production of an educational video on the effects of acid rain on Virginia’s mountains.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Monongahela National Forest, the W.V. Department of Natural Resources, the W.V. Department of Environmental Protection, and others will all be active partners in the initiative.
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 140,000 members dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.
The Dominion Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Dominion, one of the nation's largest producers of energy, with an energy portfolio of about 28,100 megawatts of generation. Dominion also serves retail energy customers in nine states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's Web site at www.dom.com.