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OUTFITTERS, PADDLERS ENSURE CHEAT ACCESS

Posted: 07/27/2005
by Charles Walbridge

Dave Hough, the managing partner of Mountain Streams & Trails, has signed an agreement with non-commercial whitewater paddlers to allow continued use of the popular Cheat and Big Sandy River takeout at Jenkinsburg, WV. Paddler representatives included Charlie Walbridge of Bruceton Mills, a board member of American Whitewater, and Keith Pitzer, executive director of Friends of the Cheat, a Kingwood - based watershed group. This is the latest example of paddlers and outfitters working together to protect and enhance West Virginia rivers.

The story began six months ago when Hough obtained the property on a land swap with Allegheny Wood Products. The area, used heavily by both paddlers and local residents, has been severely degraded and has become a local trouble spot. Once Hough realized the size of the job he contacted local paddlers for help. American Whitewater and Friends of the Cheat joined forces for a successful fundraising effort. They raised $15,000 to finance much-needed repairs and improvements. The money included a $1000.00 grant from the American Canoe Association?s CFS fund, sponsored by LL Bean. Friends of the Cheat, whose water quality work is well known in the paddling community, qualified the project for a matching grant from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. This funding will be used to repair and control serious erosion at the site. Construction is planned go forward within the next 60 days.

While most visitors to the Jenkinsburg access behave responsibly, a small minority has engaged reckless and destructive activities. The design for the area, worked out by the landowner, the WV-DEP, and the paddling community, will allow continued public use while curtailing this harmful behavior. A large parking area will be constructed, and trail access to the river will be provided. Motor vehicles will not be permitted beyond the parking area without permission from the owner. When the work it complete, the parties will work out a plan for increased surveillance by local and state law enforcement.