2023 marks the third year of Friends of the Cheat’s (FOC) Riparian Reforestation project in Tucker and Preston Counties, through which free native tree plantings are provided to landowners along streams or rivers within the project area: the Cheat River and major tributaries like Horseshoe Run, Clover Run, Minear Run, Licking Creek, Buffalo Creek, and Saltlick Creek. FOC is currently seeking landowners interested in these services for this spring.
The goal of the project is to re-establish healthy, forested riparian areas within the approved areas of the upper Cheat River watershed. A riparian area is the land directly next to a body of water, such as a stream or river. Healthy riparian areas are composed of many trees and plants and provide direct benefits to landowners, wildlife and water quality.
For example, forested riparian areas alongside agriculture and livestock operations are important to stream health and bank stabilization. Mature trees protect the fields from powerful flood waters, reduce erosion and bank loss that may occur, as well as filter agricultural runoff, thereby improving the overall water quality of the stream or river.
Healthy forested riparian areas also benefit stream ecosystem. Tree leaves provide a food source for aquatic insects that are eaten by fish. They also provide shade to the stream, keeping water cold for species like West Virginia’s state fish, the eastern brook trout.
Landowners who are interested in these no-cost services are encouraged to reach out to Madison Ball, conservation program director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-329-3621 ext. 7 to discuss options and create a planting plan for the landowner to review. Approved projects will be scheduled for planting in April or May 2.