BRUCETON MILLS, W.Va. – Friends of the Cheat (FOC) welcomed the public to Coopers Rock where it held its 2021 State of the Watershed Event on Friday, Oct. 22 from 2 to 6 p.m.
FOC Associate Director, Owen Mulkeen, said attendees had the chance to learn about the nonprofit and all the projects it is currently undertaking.
“This is something we do every year where we kind of have a public-facing forum to discuss, like, our projects and the current status of the Cheat River and what FOC is doing and just kind of update the public on, you know, again like, projects that we have in progress, future projects and just, you know, kind of give that the opportunity for the public to ask us questions,” Mulkeen said.
In the past year alone, Mulkeen said, FOC has been involved in “a lot” of projects such as the Cheat River Restoration Program, cleaning up acid mine drainage (AMD) in Muddy Creek and working to remove the Albright Dam.
The dam removal is one of the most challenging and important projects FOC has undertaken, Mulkeen said.
“We’ve just hired some new consultants to do a feasibility study on removing the dam in Albright,” he said. “That would be — that’s a multiyear long project and you know, we can count this year as kind of year one. We’re starting that process and kind of doing the background to know what it would take to remove that dam, so that’s probably the biggest project that FOC will have taken under our wing in a long, long time.”
Everything that FOC does is only possible through its members, volunteers and donors, Mulkeen said.
He added that there are “a lot of opportunities” for people to get involved with the organization.
“They can become a capable volunteer, which is we will outfit them with the materials and the gear needed to do water sampling,” Mulkeen said. “And then, we’ll take that water sample and get it analyzed and have a database of results for, you know, whatever future event were to happen, we have a good baseline data.”
There are different events people can get involved with such as the Cheat River Festival. These larger events, especially the festival, require a lot of volunteers and Mulkeen said that’s one way to get involved with FOC.
“That’s the first weekend in May and also people can just become a member,” Mulkeen said. “You know, they can donate and just be part of our newsletter, you know, part of our just online social media. They can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, you know, those are just ways people can just know about us and be involved with the issues since we’d like to spread what’s going on.”
One of the easiest ways to help FOC, Mulkeen said, is simply to donate. All the funds raised will go directly toward helping to preserve and revitalize the Cheat River.