OSMRE / VISTA Team Projects
Friends of Blackwater
OSMRE / VISTA: Monica Zabroski
Supervisor: Judith Rodd
Address: PO Box 1385, Davis, West Virginia 26260
Voice Telephone: 304-552-7602
Web site: www.saveblackwater.org
Web site 2: www.northforkwatershed.org
Congressional District: 1st
Bureau: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)
The Friends of Blackwater works to protect the landscapes, natural and human communities, and heritage of the Allegheny Highlands, Blackwater Watershed, and Canyon and works to promote sustainable economic development through public outreach, advocacy, and restoration.
About the Surrounding Community
The Blackwater River Watershed was the site of coal, coke, and railroad industrial activity during the early 1900’s. Today, the North Fork tributary of the river remains impacted by Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and associated metal deposits. Economic inactivity, due in large part to the historic coal mining operations and residue from the operations, is a major factor causing a slow job growth and associated unemployment within the zip codes served by the Friends of Blackwater. The blighting effect of Acid Mine Drainage and the impaired health of the North Fork threaten to drive away existing and prospective businesses within the communities. The Blackwater Watershed has been plagued with environmental problems since the introduction of coal mining in the 1880’s, leaving the river and some of its tributaries with highly acidic waters filled with iron and other pollutants. As a result, parts of the river cannot support many of the area’s native aquatic species and pollution limits outdoor recreation in the area. Of the residents living in the zip codes served by the Friends of Blackwater, 15.13% live below the national poverty level and the per capita income is 24.76% below the national level.
To expand economic opportunities and create local employment options, the OSMRE/VISTA builds cooperative relationships with local stakeholders and expands community outreach in order to better engage those who depend on the vitality of the area’s tourism industry. The project develops recreational opportunities in the watershed, such as hiking, biking, and using a water trail in order to attract visitors who spend money in the area and builds the local economy. In addition, to promote environmental stewardship, the OSMRE/VISTA manages a water quality monitoring program and organizes advocacy for the remediation of acid mine drainage. When recruiting volunteers, the OSMRE/VISTA focuses heavily on those who are under-employed as a result of the seasonal employment cycle, thereby encouraging and enabling them to take a more proactive role in stewarding the community’s assets. The OSMRE/VISTA researches water pollution and helps to create and distribute the “State of the River” Report to educate the public about water quality issues.