BECKLEY -- The waters of the New and Greenbrier rivers converge at the town of Hinton before rushing through the New River Gorge. Likewise, two water quality organizations dedicated to the health of these rivers are joining together to move their goals forward into the new year.
The Confluence Campaign is an effort by the Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River and the National Committee on the New River to raise $18,000 for their organizing and outreach work in West Virginia.
"Thousands of people use and enjoy the rivers and we want to funnel their appreciation for the rivers into taking better care of them," says Chris Chanlett, president of the Friends of the Lower Greenbrier River.
The group performs water monitoring, educates local students about the watershed, creates reading material and spearheads other activities focused on conserving and protecting water resources in the Greenbrier River watershed.
In 2011, they released a Greenbrier River State of the Watershed, an educational document that details the watershed, its impairments and some of the activities being undertaken to improve its health.
Working with an artist, they are also creating a 3D model of the watershed, which will be displayed at the Alderson Interpretive Center. Chanlett says they also have a proposal on the table to create a boat ramp access point where the Greenbrier meets the New.
The National Committee for the New River (NCNR) works to protect, restore and advocate for a healthy New River, whose 8,970 miles of tributaries drain a 6,920-square-mile basin. In West Virginia, they have partnered with other local organizations on water monitoring and education projects.
NCNR, the larger of the two organizations, challenged the Greenbrier group to raise the money. They will keep one third of it for their outreach work in West Virginia.
"The Greenbrier is a very significant portion of the New's total watershed, so it makes complete sense for them, as an ambitious organization, to keep reaching out to people in southern West Virginia," Chanlett says.