Paddlers all know that WV has great rivers. The Cheat River has seven free flowing tributaries and many whitewater sections, including the famous Cheat River Canyon where the downriver Nationals were just held. Once a year, in May, boaters and environmentalists from all over the region converge at the Cheat Fest to celebrate the progress we've made in restoring the Cheat and her tributaries to their former wild glory. There are bands and activities and educational booths and a general feeling of joy in the air, each year, when the festival happens beside the Cheat River.
What happened to the Cheat? Coal mining happened. The coal of the region is embedded in sulfur rich rock that causes Acid Mine Drainage to spill into streams and kill all the fish. It takes very careful management to prevent spills and remediate acid leaks where they do occur. Thanks to Friends of the Cheat, this has happened. Friends of the Cheat has taken a gentle but active approach to building consensus among all those who hold a stake in having clean water and healthy fish in the Cheat. They deserve many congratulations for work well done.