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Big Sandy Land Gift Ensures Public River Access

Posted: 04/11/2007
by Charles Walbridge

Big Sandy Land Gift Guarantees Public River Access

Friends of the Cheat recently received a donation of a four acres of riverside land located just upstream of the Rockville Bridge along Big Sandy Creek in Preston County, WV. The donor, Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation, is the third largest independent producer of natural gas in the U.S. They are the most active driller of new wells in the U.S. and one of the leading consolidators of onshore U.S. natural gas assets. Friends of the Cheat plans  to build parking and river access for the many whitewater paddlers, hikers, and fishermen who are drawn to this beautiful river. And while human powered recreational users will be welcome they also plan to bar motorized users who have caused considerable damage to the area.

The history of this parcel is complex. Allegheny Power sold its holdings in Along Cheat and Big Sandy Rivers to Allegheny Wood Products in 2005 and we assumed that all property on river right at Rockville was included in the sale. But Sandy Walbridge did research at the county courthouse and found two parcels that AWP did not own. One of these, an adjacent half-acre plot, was purchased from Allegheny Power last year. A later survey showed that the usable portion of this property was much smaller than anticipated! Ownership of a second four-acre parcel was even more elusive. The owner of record, Appalachian Resources, is a name that has been listed in the deed books as title passed between a number of corporations. It was ultimately acquired by Chesapeake Energy when they purchased Columbia Gas Corporation. 

Friends of the Cheat contacted Chesapeake Energy’s real estate department, which didn't realize that they owned the property! After trying to work with them without success we contacted Scott Rotruck, a long time supporter of Friends of the Cheat and their recently-appointed vice president of corporate relations. After meeting with Keith Pitzer and Charlie and Sandy Walbridge at the Rockville property last December he agreed to help us procure it. Thanks to his energetic efforts Chesapeake Energy agreed to donate the land. Their generous gift guarantees public access to
Big Sandy Creek.

Scott Rotruck and Chesapeake Energy deserve our sincere thanks for their vision and generosity. Now it’s time for all of us who know and love the Big Sandy to help us do this. Our fundraising goal is $10,000. All those who give $50 or more will receive our “Big Sandy Access Partner” sticker.

            Please send your tax-deductible donations to:

                        Friends of Cheat
                        Big Sandy Access Project
                        119 S. Price Street #206
                        Kingwood
, WV 26537

            Or call 304-329-3621 – we accept credit cards!

Friends of Cheat is a non-profit watershed group whose goal is to "restore, preserve, and promote the outstanding natural qualities of the Cheat River watershed". Founded by paddlers in the mid-nineties, their focus has been on neutralizing sources of acid mine drainage within the watershed. Thanks to their efforts, water quality in the Cheat River and its tributaries is much improved. They hold an annual Cheat River Festival on the first weekend in May and previously partnered with a local landowner and American Whitewater to upgrade the Jenkinsburg Access to the Cheat Canyon.

Charles Walbridge
Bruceton Mills, WV


Associated Rivers

Big Sandy Creek WV
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Big Sandy Creek WV
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