Grant funding from the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as mitigation funds from a dam and reservoir project on Elkwater Fork of the Tygart River, are being used to pay for the restoration work.
Last year, DNR, WVU and Canaan Valley Institute personnel built a new railroad bridge and fish ladder to allow trout to once again travel up and down Beaver Creek, a Shavers Fork tributary several miles downstream from Oats Run, that had been blocked by a waterfall formed by erosion around a railbed culvert.
Assuming the Oats Run project works as expected, a similar baffled culvert liner will be installed next spring a short distance downstream, where Lamothe Run enters Shavers Fork adjacent to a 230-acre piece of private land owned by Steve Callen of Morgantown.
"Hopefully, this will once again be the premier brook trout fishery that it once was," said Callen, who was on hand to see Shay No. 5 arrive with its cargo.
"By reconnecting severed spawning tributaries upstream from Cheat Bridge, this project should make a big difference," Brown said.
"You don't want to end up with a lot of genetically isolated trout populations," said Keith McGilvray of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Projects like this can keep that from happening."
Other work planned for the high-altitude watershed includes installing small dams and diversions in Shavers Fork itself to create pools and flush away sediment, and to plant spruce trees along the stream and its tributaries in open areas to provide cooling shade.
In return for providing the steam power needed to bring the baffled culverts to Oats Run, the DNR will enlarge and improve a water tank at Oats Run used by Cass Scenic Railroad steam locomotives.
In addition to pushing the three tons of culvert pipe to the top of Cheat Mountain, Shay No. 5 pushed a caboose used by adventurous overnight guests to its picturesque siding overlooking Oats Run's confluence with Shavers Fork and the open meadows surrounding the townsite of Spruce.
"We think the work going on here will get more people interested in staying at the caboose at Spruce, and getting dropped off up here to fish," said Rob Sovine, superintendent of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.
Shay No. 5 is one of the nation's oldest engines in continuous service on its original line, and the second-oldest operating Shay in existence.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.