AFHA E-Newsletter

Spring in the AFHA: Projects in Bloom

This month our newsletter is focusing on projects completed by AmeriCorps members this spring, in an effort to show off some of the amazing work that is being done in the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area. From Art showcases to stream improvement, there is always heartfelt service being done here. Enjoy!

Over 5,000 Pounds of Trash

Pulled from the Tygart River

Taira Landavere
Saturday, May 12th, volunteers from around the community pitched in to #tidythetygart. Working together with Big Timber Brewing Company, the US Wildlife and Fisheries, Save the Tygart Watershed Association, and AFHA AmeriCorps members, we were able to pull out over 5,000 pounds of trash. The US Wildlife and Fisheries provided canoes and jon boats for volunteers to be on the river and the banks. 

Volunteers standing proudly behind trash pulled from the river.

We were able to split up into two groups and meet in the middle. One group of volunteers started above the 11th Street bridge near Krogers and the other group started at Riverbend Park, we all met at the Railroad Bridge. Afterwards, Big Timber worked with Brewstel to provide BBQ sandwiches for everyone to enjoy. The Elkins community benefitted from this immensely terrific project. 

After a good day's work, we felt accomplishment and pride helping make our river great again. Now, as we drive by it, it even seems like a cleaner river. 

AmeriCorps Members Help Keep Buckhannon Beautiful

Joanna Kebless
A sunny, spring morning at the Buckhannon River Walk on April 21 was the perfect day for an AmeriCorps project. The Elizabeth J. “Binky” Poundstone River Walk is a paved walking trail along the scenic Buckhannon River that hosts rare plants, and features interpretive signs for any nature lover. Five AmeriCorps members took it upon themselves to spend a morning weeding and removing invasive species so that the Buckhannon River Walk stayed beautiful.  

AmeriCorps member Grace DeMeo
holding two bushels of Garlic Mustard

They started the morning with a quick tour of the river walk, in which two AmeriCorps members Grace DeMeo and Kristina Kuss pointed out specific areas that contained special plants. Volunteers were taught to be careful to step around those plants where they would be working, so as not to crush them.

AmeriCorps members Kristina Kuss
and Joanna Kebless digging out invasive Privet

Equipped with work gloves, heavy-duty shovels, and bright green REAP bags, the five members got to work. Some members focused on pulling the garlic mustard, while others focused their efforts on digging out the privet, both of which are plants invasive to this region. The roots of privet are large, tree-like, and connected horizontally to other privet progeny, so it made for hard work. Everyone worked together and tackled the roots from all angles! Altogether, the members eradicated all the noticeable garlic mustard patches, and cleared a few patches of privet from the river’s edge.  The total result was 2 industrial-sized bags of garlic mustard, around 25 privet shrubs, and heaps of trash collected along the trail. All in all, everyone had fun serving at the Buckhannon River Walk, and felt that it was a successful spring service project!

ArtSpring Friday

Alexa White

On Friday, April 20th, ArtSpring hosted what Tucker County High School students lovingly titled, “An ArtSpring Friday” event in Thomas. The ArtSpring staff member and Americorps member worked to bring together high school art students and local musicians for a night of community support and engagement in the arts by hosting both a Senior Art Show opening reception and an evening of local music.


Local Musician Sadie Palmer singing at ArtSpring’s
Local Music Showcase at the Purple Fiddle.

Tucker County High School senior artists displayed works of art created throughout their time at TCHS in a pop-up gallery at Cottrill’s Opera House in Thomas. This was an excellent opportunity for the community to see the talent and artworks created within the school, and an exciting event for students to gather and show their work in a thriving arts community and a gallery space.

ArtSpring also hosted a Local Music Showcase at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas following the opening reception at Cottrill’s Opera House. The night was filled with music by Tucker County musicians, The Off Set, The SugarFoot Stompers, Sadie Palmer, Jesse Milnes, and Ben Townsend. Because our local musicians donated their time and our supportive community members came out participate in the event, ArtSpring was able to raise money to continue supporting and promoting the arts in Tucker County. This event benefitted , which means ArtSpring will be able to support more local artists at the ArtSpring Festival this Memorial Day weekend. 

AmeriCorps Celebrates the West Fork River

Hannah Lieberman

Beginning in 2016, USFWS removed three obsolete low head dams from the West Fork River opening up over 75 miles of free-flowing water. The removals allow for fish passage, restoration of river bank and importantly rehabilitation of endangered mussel species’ habitat. Additionally, these removals created new, safe and exciting recreational opportunities for the community. This Spring, I am working with the non-profit organization Guardians of the West Fork Watershed to enhance and promote the new and improved West Fork River water trail.
On April, 14th I organized a river access site cleanup called “Clean The Fork” through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection REAP program: Make It Shine. Eighteen Community members, fellow AFHA AmeriCorps and Guardians of the West Fork worked hard to collect over 1,640 pounds of trash and 10 tires. We cleaned 8 different river access sites along the West Fork River from the Jackson Dam in Weston County to Limestone Junction in Harrison County.
To promote the West Fork River water trail, I am helping organize the first annual “Float The Fork” event on June 2nd. The event includes a six-mile canoe, kayak or stand up paddle board float ending with the grand opening of the West Milford Park, a river access site. We are delighted that so far 71 community members registered for the float. Additionally, we raised close to $3,000 in sponsorship money to make this occasion a success. All of the proceeds from the event will go directly towards conserving and developing the West Fork River water trail. We hope that even more people will attend the grand opening of the park. This open to all community event will include live music, food trucks, environmental education provided by USFWS, Trout Unlimited and American River as well as plans for the park developed by WVU masters’ students. There will be 15 volunteers at the event, including 10 AFHA AmeriCorps ready to help out and ensure that everyone has a fun safe day.


Historic Darden House Open House
The Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission is hosting a one-night-only tour and open house for the historic Darden House in downtown Elkins. May 22nd from 5 to 7pm come get a tour of the historic house of one of Elkins' earliest business developers. 

Click Here to Learn More

Artspring Festival
Participate in Tucker County's annual festival celebrating all things artistic in Appalachia. May 25-27th you can see artistic demonstrations, divulge in wine testing and more! Stop by the information booth in Davis to learn more on-site! 

Read More Here

Elkins Endangered Species Day
Several agencies are partnering to bring downtown Elkins a celebration of some of our very special animal species. This event will be May 19th at the YMCA in downtown Elkins and will feature a variety of games, activities and learning suitable for all ages.

More Information Here

Bug Out! with Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited is looking for help in keeping our forest rivers and streams healthy and happy. On June 16th and July 21 they will be leading workshops on how to measure and monitor stream health for people of all ages. Lunch is included!

Click Here to Learn More

 Copyright © 2018 Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area P.O. Box 1206Elkins, WV 26241

Web Bug from