CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Now it’s up to nature.
After 13 months of digging, piling up rocks and painstakingly placing sunken logs, workers are just about finished with a $5 million effort to restore good brook-trout fishing to West Virginia’s upper Shavers Fork.
“We’ll know after we get some high water whether the work we did is doing what we wanted it to do,” said Danny Bennett, the Division of Natural Resources’ stream-restoration coordinator. “Our goal was to reproduce a semblance of the stream as it was at one time.”
The “at one time” Bennett referred to was the late 1800s, before the Shavers Fork watershed was shorn of its timber for the first time. Back then the river flowed narrow, deep and cold, and brook trout thrived in its depths.
Conditions degenerated quickly after the lumbermen came. Logging crews floated huge rafts of logs down the river, and the rafts bulldozed rocks out of the riverbed and left the stream wide, shallow, flat and featureless. Without trees to shade it, the segment of Shavers upstream from Cheat Bridge became too warm to support temperature-sensitive brook trout.
Fisheries officials tried to replace the brookies by stocking rainbow and brown trout, both of which can tolerate higher temperatures.
“The stream had a couple of major problems,” explained Steve Brown, the senior DNR planner who spearheaded the restoration project. “It had no depth and it had very few large rocks and logs to hide fish and give them relief from the river’s current.”
DNR officials wanted to restore the river, but didn’t have enough money to begin until former U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan earmarked $2.25 million for the effort. The grant, along with $100,000 from the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, allowed the agency to get started on Shavers by re-establishing easy fish passage between two brook-trout feeder streams and the river’s main stem.
At about that same time, the Tygart Valley Conservation District, through the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, was building a dam on Elkwater Fork of the Tygart River. The project’s parameters required conservation district officials to mitigate the loss of the once free-flowing stream by doing watershed-restoration work elsewhere.
DNR officials approached the involved parties and suggested the mitigation work be done on Shavers Fork.
Plans were drawn up, a contractor was hired and $4 million worth of work began early last September.
“They put in single- and double-wing current deflectors, cross-vane structures, rock vanes, and a new sort of structure they call ‘toe wood,”’ Bennett said. “They did a limited amount of hole creation, and they put in benches that should help to narrow up the river channel.
“The hope is that narrowing and deepening the channel will break up ice during the winter and help to prevent ice scour. We’re also hoping the deeper pools will help intercept (cooler) ground water and bring the stream’s overall temperature down.”
Streamside trees were planted to create shade.
“We should know within a few years whether the changes we made are having an effect,” he said. “The reason we’ll know — and will know with great certainty — is that researchers from (West Virginia University) have been up there for 10-plus years gathering data.”
Researchers will monitor Shavers’ water temperature to see if it begins to cool. They’ll also survey the river’s insect and crustacean life, and they’ll monitor brook-trout genetics to determine when the fish return to the river’s main stem from their current homes in tributary streams.
The new structures will be evaluated after next spring’s snowmelt and high-water runoff to see if they accomplished what designers hoped they would. Most of the structures were designed to deflect high-velocity springtime flows in a way that scours out deep pools and pockets.
If the project proves successful, Brown said 15 more miles of upper Shavers might receive similar treatment.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Now it’s up to nature.
No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe
Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and parasites a place to live.
Bad catfish should be eaten
ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has launched a statewide campaign to educate citizens about invasive blue and flathead catfish - their negative impact on native fish species and what anglers can
do to help.
Nice first one
Brett Ishler, 16, Frostburg, bagged his first gobbler during the junior spring turkey hunt. The bird had a 9-inch beard and was taken near Westernport. Ishler was accompanied on the hunt by Rodney Lipscomb.
Archery open house planned May 4
CUMBERLAND — The Cumberland Bowhunters Club will host an archery open house at its Valley Road facility on May 4 beginning at 1 p.m.
Turkey hunting class scheduled
TYRONE, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Game Com- mission will offer a Successful Turkey Hunting course at the Tyrone Sportsmen Association on April 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Commission meeting set
ROANOKE, W.Va. — The next quarterly meeting of the West Virginia Natural Resources Commission will be May 4 at 1 p.m. at Stonewall Resort State Park in Roanoke. The public is invited to make com- ments. Items on the agenda include:
• Summary of the 2014 Sectional Meetings – Sportsmen and Landowners Questionnaire.
• Approve 2014 - 2015 Big Game Hunting Regula- tions.
W.Va. cautions about eating certain fish
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia has updated its advisories for eating fish caught in lakes and rivers.
U.S. Army Corps campgrounds open
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to open campgrounds at five West Virginia lakes.
Fishing rodeo slated
ROCKY GAP — A children’s fishing rodeo will take place at the Rocky Gap State Park Nature Center on May 4 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Register at canderson@dnr. state.md.us or call 301-722-1480.
Crossbow use begins for New York deer hunters
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The new state budget includes an agreement that will give crossbow hunters their own season in New York.
Language within the budget will allow crossbow use for all small game, including turkeys, and any big game season in which firearms are allowed.
- More Outdoors Headlines
- No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe