Success Stories

Jeremiah Carpenter Trail and Elk River Gathering Historic Interpretation

Location:  Braxton County, at Sutton Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Landowner:  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Issues to address:  At the time, very few trails were available for the outdoor recreation mix at the federal facility and the local history interpretation went only as far back as the Civil War. 

Project description:  The Carpenter family were integral to the Sutton area development 80 years before the Civil War, so Jeremiah Carpenter provided an excellent opportunity to fill out the local history and bring a much-needed recreational trail to the area.  Since then, other trails have been developed.  The Elk River Gathering was held two years to draw attention to the prehistory and history of the area before the 19th century.

Completion date:  2011 and 2012 Elk River Gathering, and 2016 Jeremiah Carpenter Trail.

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Council, WV Humanities Council, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Sutton Community Development Council.

Scouting the proposed trail route, Kevin Carpenter photo. 
Elk River Gathering poster calling attention to the legacy of Jeremiah Carpenter and his times.
US Army Corps of Engineers map showing the Jeremiah Carpenter Trail (light green line in upper left quadrant).

Wolf Creek Park, New River Birding and Nature Center

Location:  Fayette County near the town of Fayetteville.

Landowner:  Fayette County.

Issues to address:  The need for nature education for the children of Fayette and surrounding counties.

Project description:  Gathering a group of nationwide nature center representatives to visit the park and consult on the best model for developing the nature center.

Completion date:  2006.

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Council, Fayette County Commission, WV University Extension Service, Association of Nature Center Administrators, and the Urban Renewal Authority.

The Nature Center boardwalk under construction by an Americorps Crew.
Yellow-throated Vireo along the boardwalk during bird banding.  Photo from
Yellow-throated Vireo along the boardwalk during bird banding.  Photo from

Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River Aquatic Education

Location:  Greenbrier County at Greenbrier East Middle School and in Greenbrier River.

Landowners:  Greenbrier County Board of Education and the Town of Alderson.

Issue to address:  The Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River watershed conservation group needed educational equipment and supplies to carry out their mission at the middle school and on field trips with students.

Project description:  The Mountain RC&D Council funded the purchase of several water testing supplies and a bathyscope for viewing the benthic organisms on stream bottoms during hands-on science projects.

Completion date:  Most recent, 2016.

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Council, Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River, WV Dept. of Environmental Protection, and National Park Service.

Using the bathyscopes. Doug Wood photo.
What’s on the bottom? Doug Wood photo.
Teaching the teachers.  Mark Ferrell photo.

Glenwood Park ADA Accessible Fishing Pier Erosion Control

Location:  Mercer County at Glenwood Recreational Park.

Landowner:  Mercer County near Princeton.

Issue to address:  Before construction of the fishing pier, the eroding bank had to be stabilized.

Project description:  The bank was graded and 150 feet of stone filled gabion baskets were placed  before the pier was constructed on top of the baskets.

Completion date:  2005.

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Council, Glenwood Recreational Park, Mercer County Commission, and Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The fishing pier meets the Americans with Disabilities Act’s standards as it sits atop the erosion control gabions.  Photo courtesy of Glenwood Park.

Hanging Rock Migration Observatory

Location:  Monroe County atop Peters Mountain.

Landowner:  Jefferson National Forest.

Issues to address:  Protection of the site and the structure for the purposes of long-term migration observation and the need for trail access along the Allegheny Trail on National Forest land.

Project description:  Long term migration studies began in 1952, using the old Civilian Conservation Corps fire observatory.  The Mountain RC&D worked to ensure the site came into the public domain in 1983.  The structure has been replaced twice, and has needed repairs several times more.  In 2014, a much needed toilet was constructed to prevent the spread of disease.

Completion date:  Most recent, 2021.

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Council, private landowners, Jefferson National Forest, Greenbrier Valley Soil Conservation District, WV Conservation Agency, Concord College, Marshall University, Handlan Chapter of the Brooks Bird Club, Bibbee Nature Club, WV Scenic Trails Association, WV Dept. of Natural Resources, private donors and volunteers, including boy scout troops.

Observatory in 1952, photo courtesy of Pollye Handlan Ballowe.
Observatory in 2006, Jesse Boone photo.
Cutting the ribbon on the new toilet in 2014, photo courtesy of Brian Hirt. 
Erecting a motus migration tracking antenna in 2021, photo courtesy of Mack Frantz.

Beaver Mill

Location:  Nicholas County near Craigsville.

Landowner:  Private.

Issue to address:  The Nicholas County Historical Society needed a restoration/preservation plan for the old mill built in 1852.

Project description:  Develop a plan to guide restoration/preservation efforts.

Completion date:  2009.  Later, restoration/preservation work was conducted by the society.

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Council, Nicholas County Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office, WV Conservation Agency, and Elk Conservation District.

Beaver Mill.  Photo courtesy of the Nicholas County Historical Society.
An old millstone at the millhouse entrance.  Photo courtesy of the Nicholas County Historical Society.

Knapps Creek Natural Stream Restoration

Location:  Pocahontas County in Knapps Creek upstream of Douthat Creek and Minnehaha Springs.

Landowner:  Private.

Issues to address:  More than a century of riparian vegetation removal for agriculture resulted in eroding banks, stream sedimentation, braiding, and loss of fish habitat.

Project description:  Several structures mimicking natural stream design were installed and riparian corridors were planted with native tree, shrub, forb, and grass species.  

Completion date:  2013

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Council, WV Dept. of Environmental Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Greenbrier Valley Conservation District, WV Conservation Agency, Knapps Creek Watershed Association, Canaan Valley Institute, and Lynch Construction Company.

Former bank erosion, Gary Berti photo.
Cross vane and bank taper plus tree plantings, Alvan Gale photo.
Cross vane plan view from NRCS manual.

Piney Creek Watershed Planning, Trail Development, and Clean-Ups

Location:  Raleigh County at various places within the Piney Creek Watershed.

Landowners:  County, various municipalities, and various private landowners.

Issues to address:  Legacy water pollution and illicit waste disposal problems and needs for outdoor recreation facilities.

Project description:  A variety of solutions involving planning for effective waste disposal and action on streamside recreation developments, such as hiking and mountain biking trails.

Completion date:  Most recent, 2021.

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Council, Piney Creek Watershed Association, WV Conservation Agency, Southern Soil Conservation District, WV Dept. of Environmental Protection, Raleigh County, City of Beckley, Rotary Club of Beckley, Raleigh County Airport, Beaver Coal Company, Bypass Pharmacy, WVU Tech, Active Southern West Virginia, and Raleigh County Historical Society.

A subwatershed planning document. Photo courtesy of Jim Fedders.
New trail tread and bridge.  Photo courtesy of Jim Fedders.
Results of a Piney Creek litter clean-up.  Photo courtesy of Jim Fedders.

Agriculture in Schools

Location:  Summers County, at the High School.

Landowner:  Summers County Board of Education.

Issues to address:  There is a need to teach biology students how to grow plants for agricultural and horticultural purposes, and to show how such “green thumb” activities can help earn a living.

Project description:  Mountain RC&D funds allowed students to purchase seeds and other supplies to grow flowers for sale in the community.

Completion date:  2017. 

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Board, WV Conservation Agency, Southern Soil Conservation District, and Summers County High School.

Students kept records of each plant’s growth.  Teacher Kathi Duffield photo.
In some schools, Mountain RC&D funds brought the mobile lab to the schools for Ag-Science experiments. 
Photo courtesy of the WV Farm Bureau.

Great Eastern Trail Riparian Area Protection Strategy 

Location:  Wyoming County along Guyandotte River and many of its tributaries.

Landowners:  Various private corporate, federal, and state lands.

Issue to address:  The West Virginia Land Trust needed to prioritize potential stream protection purchases in southwestern WV.

Project description:  Local Great Eastern Trail Association volunteers visited 38 large land holdings along streams and assessed 237 miles of stream corridor.  A google earth kmz file of locations and an excel file of findings were provided to the WV Land Trust and the Mountain RC&D Council.

Completion date:  2013.

Partners:  Mountain RC&D Council, TuGuNu Chapter of the Great Eastern Trail Association, and WV Land Trust.

Guyandotte River with healthy riparian vegetation. Doug Wood photo.
Confluence of a tributary with the river.  Doug Wood photo.
A well vegetated 2nd order stream. Doug Wood photo.
The Great Eastern Trail through Twin Falls State Park. Doug Wood photo.
TuGuNu volunteer Tim McGraw on lunch break in an idyllic spot.  Doug Wood photo.

Sandy Creek Expedition Historical Interpretation Projects 

Background:  In 1756 a combined military force of Cherokees and Virginians, 340 strong, carried out an expedition down Dry Fork and Tug Fork towards the towns of French-allied American Indians to retaliate for the defeat of General Edward Braddock’s army at the Battle of the Monongahela.  This important campaign has been poorly interpreted along its route in the past, but Mountain RC&D decided to remedy this.

Projects:  In 2008, the MtnRCD sponsored a tour of the expedition route for several individuals and authorities who might help with developing an historic byway in the West Virginia portion of the route.  In 2009, a multi-fold brochure was produced by a MtnRCD volunteer (see top two images above).  Then in 2010, the MtnRCD had a website developed to complement the brochure (visit  Sign panels were designed by the MtnRCD volunteer in 2016 and made by Pannier Graphics.  Then, with grants from the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Coal Heritage Area Authority, the MtnRCD purchased sign bases from Pannier and volunteers erected them along the expedition route in 2020.

Cooperating partners:  WV Humanities Council, Coal Heritage Area Authority, McDowell County Solid Waste Authority, Panther Wildlife Management Area, WV Division of Parks, City of Welch, City of Iaeger, Berwind Volunteer Fire Department, Barton-Billups Community Park, Berwind Cabins, McDowell County Commission, and McDowell County Sheriff’s Department.  A tour followed erection of the signs to demonstrate tourism potential of the signs, and you can view videos of the tour stops at .