Updated: Jun 2, 2022
It has been some time since the Raleigh County Board of Education (RCBOE) agreed to join with Piney Creek Watershed Association (PCWA) to undertake the wetland restoration project on the campus of Woodrow Wilson High School. This document is an update of the project.
Earth moving began on the wetland project just over a year ago. We are pleased to report that the project has been a great success due to the outpouring of assistance from many community members and organizations, as well as ongoing support of RCBOE administrators, faculty, and staff. The goose population has been reduced to only an occasional few birds resulting in a much cleaner and hygienic campus.
The trash-trapping brush line along the front parking area has been removed. The drainage-way was improved so that storm flows from the wetland do not spill out onto the driveway. Stream water quality is benefitting from these changes as well.
A pollinator garden has been established. Educational enhancements have been added in the form of interpretive signage. Walking bridges across the drainage way have been added. The initial environmental education event was held in conjunction with the Girl Scouts celebrating Earth Day. It was a great success. WWHS students are raising funds to build a boardwalk to enhance access and educational opportunities that the project can provide.
Below is an abbreviated timeline of progress to date:
April 5-9, 2021 - Board of Education employees, led by C D Jones, breached the dam. Fish were captured and transported to local private ponds by cooperators from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, West Virginia DNR, and the West Virginia Soil Conservation Agency.
April 14, 2021 – Local residents cooperated to capture domestic ducks and transport them to another location.
June, 2021 – AllCon was the low bidding contractor selected to restore the wetland and drainageway as designed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Final inspection of earthmoving was conducted on July 6, 2021. Funding from a grant from West Virginia DEP covered the cost of the construction phase.
Summer, 2021 – Pollinator Garden established. WWHS Biology students with the guidance of teachers Peters and Frost planted seeds of pollinator species in May, 2021. The plants were maintained in the WVU Tech greenhouse over the summer and planted in August with the help of volunteers in a bed adjacent to the wetland. The Beckley Fire Department watered the garden after planting. Seeds and planting materials were purchased with funds from a Beckley Area Foundation (BAF) community grant.
Fall, 2021 – The ACT Carpentry class built and installed a walking bridge across the drainageway to give easier access to the softball field adjacent to the project. Materials were purchased with the grant from BAF.
April 11, 2022 – Jim Fedders presented a talk at the 2022 New River Symposium entitled “Wetland Restoration at Woodrow Wilson High School, Beckley, West Virginia”. The talk described the work and highlighted the community involvement in the project as well as the educational potential of such a project on a high school campus.
Spring 2022 – Custom interpretive signage was designed, purchased, and installed at the wetland and pollinator garden and a second bridge was installed using funds from the BAF grant.
April 23, 2022 – Girl Scout Earth Day Celebration and tree planting. The first organized educational event at the wetland was held in conjunction with the Girl Scouts. 35 scouts along with numerous volunteers participated by planting trees and shrubs at the project including over 800 live stakes, 50 bare root shrubs and 10 large ball and burlap trees purchased with a grant received by the Girl Scouts. The girls also learned about the importance of wetlands, the water cycle, non-point pollution, invasive species, and leave no trace ethics during activities organized by National Park Service and PCWA employees and other environmental professionals.
What’s Next? – Freshmen are raising money to build a boardwalk. Two talented and hard working WWHS freshmen, class President Ram Asathambi and Vice-President Thomas Spencer, approached Principal Powell about an idea for a project to benefit the school. Principal Powell suggested a boardwalk would be a great addition to the wetland to provide easy access to view the site and serve as an outdoor classroom. The students started a fund-raising campaign by notifying local businesses, elected officials, friends, and fellow students of their project. Their campaign so far has raised over $16,000. Preliminary estimates indicate that materials for a suitable structure would run about $24,000. They would appreciate any additional support from the Board of Education or other sources.
We appreciate the support of our many cooperating partners including:
Raleigh County Board of Education
Administrators, faculty, staff, and students of:
Woodrow Wilson High School and
Academy of Careers and Technology
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
United States Department of Environmental Protection
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Beckley Area Foundation
West Virginia Conservation Agency - Southern Conservation District
City of Beckley
Beckley Sanitary Board
West Virginia Department of Natural Resources
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
West Virginia University Institute of Technology
WVU Tech Women’s Soccer Team
New River Master Gardeners
Girl Scouts of the Black Diamond
Beckley Rotary Club
National Park Service
National Parks Conservation Association
Many community volunteers