Watershed group meets with highway & environmental officials to plan replanting areas disturbed by bypass

The Warm Springs Watershed Association (WSWA) hosted a charrette in Morgantown last Thursday with the West Virginia Department of Transportation Environmental Compliance Officer, Doug Kirk, and the staff of West Virginia Division of Highways Environmental Resources Program Managers to examine the potential of reforestation of the U.S. 522 Bypass right of way.

A charrette is an intensive planning meeting among stakeholders.

Warm Springs Run Watershed Association was awarded a technical assistance grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust G3 Program to help with their efforts.

Designgreen LLC of Washington facilitated the meeting for the watershed group at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service State Office.

Representatives from West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Watershed Improvement Branch, WV Rivers Collation, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), WVU, and the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council participated in the planning process.

Kate Lehman, center left, attends a planning meeting with state environmental and highway officials to set up a reforestation plan for the U.S. 522 bypass area.
submitted photo

The meeting exceeded our expectations. Discussion topics included state policy regarding revegetating areas along new road construction. They were very open to our listening to our concerns,” said Kate Lehman, President of Warm Springs Run Watershed Association.

“Currently 240 acres of land have been disturbed by the bypass construction. This poses an increase in flooding risk for Berkeley Springs,” said Rebecca MacLeod, WSWA board member. “We were pleased to hear that WVDOH is undertaking additional investigations into the hydrologic changes resulting from the impact to our Warm Springs Run Flood Control Dams. This will be incorporated into the USDA NRCS Watershed Planning Grant recently approved for the Town of Bath and the watershed.”

“Trees and shrubs are the least expensive form of stormwater control,” said Lehman.

Together the group looked at areas along U.S. 522 that would be appropriate for planting native trees, shrubs, and understory perennials for pollinators.

“WVDOH is checking on sightline standards and any other restrictions that could apply. WSWA has already identified several reimbursement grants that could pay for revegetation, but we may need help with upfront costs,” said Lehman.