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South Branch

South Branch Watershed Association of Hampshire County (SBWAHC) South Branch River Survey Project - Phase I

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Initiated and spearheaded by landowner's concern over severe stream bank erosion on their property, the South Branch Watershed Association of Hampshire County (SBWAHC) began organizing in the fall of 2001 to find ways to resolve this problem. In this process, stakeholder representation broadened and participants became more aware of additional concerns and the interactions and impact of land use and natural factors on the health and sustainability of their watershed. They received encouragement and support from the Potomac Valley Conservation District (PVCD), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Canaan Valley Institute (CVI), Potomac Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development Council (PHRC&D Council), the West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA) and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP). The SBWAHC next began to develop and list issues of concern, objectives, short term goals, long term goals and the following vision statement:

The vision of the watershed association is to address these concerns, develop assessments to determine a comprehensive picture of the watershed's problems and issues affecting Hampshire County's segment of the South Branch River and initiate actions to resolve problems. We will inform citizens about the importance of this watershed association and our goals.

From this vision came the South Branch River Survey Project which was broken into two phases. Phase I, which started in the summer of 2002, looked at many aspects of the river such as erosion, condition of previously installed stabilization projects, blockages, encroaching structures, and exposed pipes. The main focus of Phase I was to develop a comprehensive inventory of the area eroded on the South Branch in Hampshire County. Phase II, which started in the summer of 2003, began looking at rates of erosion. The SBWAHC recognized the importance of the South Branch River as a West Virginia resource as well as a stream that significantly contributes to the Potomac and thus the Chesapeake Bay. They also knew that a project of this scale would produce invaluable information that had never been recorded in this area and could be used for many types of future analyses.

The planning stage of the project began in the fall of 2001. The data collection began on June 14, 2002 slightly upstream of the Trough General Store and ended the first season in the fall of 2002 at Blues Ford due to high water conditions. The remainder of the Phase I data collection was completed during the summer of 2003.

The project spanned the entire length of the main channel of the South Branch in Hampshire County minus approximately 4 miles in the trough. This is approximately 42.5 miles of river channel or approximately 85 miles of stream bank (excluding islands). The key data collected in Phase I of the river survey:

1. Length and height of erosion sites

2. Length, height and condition of existing bank stabilization projects

3. Amount of debris in the stream

4. Encroaching structures and structures in violation of the Hampshire County Floodplain Ordinance. This Floodplain Ordinance was designed "...to promote the general health, welfare, and safety of the community, encourage the utilization of appropriate construction practices in order to prevent or minimize flood damage in the future, minimize danger to public health and safety by protecting water supply, sanitary sewage disposal, and natural drainage, reduce financial burdens imposed on the community, its governmental units, and its residents, by preventing the unwise design and construction of development in areas subject to flooding"

5. Potential points of pollution


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