Shavers Fork Coalition

Healing the Headwaters Summit
May 18-19,2000

The Shavers Fork Coalition, Friends of the Cheat, West Virginia University Division of Forestry, Canaan Valley Institute, and Mountaineer Chapter of Trout Unlimited collaborated on a two-day Healing the Headwaters Summit at Snowshoe Mountain in May of 2000. Representatives from twenty-five agencies, businesses, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations attended. A railbus tour of the headwaters highlighted the first day, during which the group had on-site research updates on brook trout, stream conditions, and watershed assessments; news updates on the railroad, Snowshoe resort, and the US Forest Service; as well as a briefing on the historic site of Spruce.

The evening and second day were devoted to drafting a document of shared commitment to the restoration and conservation of the Upper Shavers Fork. (See document below.) Many of the eighteen signing organizations, as well as some others, continue to communicate about and cooperate on Upper Shavers Fork issues, research, developments, and news.

The document reads as follows:

A Shared Commitment for the Restoration  and Conservation
of the Upper Shavers Fork of the Cheat River, West Virginia.

The Shavers Fork of the Cheat River is a quintessential West Virginia watershed. Located in the heart of the central Appalachian Mountains, the headwaters of the Shavers Fork originate in Pocahontas County, WV, at nearly 4600 feet elevation. From these lofty beginnings, the Shavers Fork flows 84 miles to Parsons, WV, where it joins with the Black Fork River to form the mighty Cheat River. Historically, the Shavers Fork was truly a "Wild and Wonderful" place. As late as the early 1900's, vast stands of Red Spruce covered nearly the entire upper portion of the watershed and supported a variety of plant and wildlife species. Associated with these forests was a network of pristine, productive, cold water streams, which along with the mainstream supported a diverse community of fish and a brook trout fishery of almost mythical proportions.


The once pristine conditions of this area, however, have been severely altered by a variety of human activities, including acid precipitation and both the direct impacts and development associated with intensive logging and coal mining. Contemporary human activities continue to affect the watershed. Nevertheless, the resilient Shavers Fork watershed shows promising signs that it is beginning to heal itself, and there is extraordinary local and regional concern over the future of the Shavers Fork ecosystem. It is recognized for its potential as a premier native brook trout fishery and the flagship of the pristine, high elevation watersheds that once defined the Allegheny Region of West Virginia.


The partners of this commitment recognize the combined needs of maintaining an ecologically healthy watershed and developing sustainable local economies. Towards this end, the purpose of the "Healing the Headwaters" commitment is: To restore, protect, and promote the unique natural and cultural resources of the upper Shavers Fork watershed.

Action Items:

This commitment is based on the principle of partnerships that encourage and maximize the expertise and participation of local communities, citizens, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, government agencies, and the private sector.

The partners have identified, and jointly commit to, the following action items pertaining to the upper Shavers Fork Watershed.

  Identify the current and historical extent of Red Spruce coverage and facilitate Red Spruce        regeneration.
  Determine the extent of degradation associated with acid precipitation and mitigate these effects with the best available technology.
  Identify current sediment inputs to the upper Shavers Fork and its tributaries and implement approaches to minimize sediment loading in the watershed.
Assess the condition of riparian zones within the area and restore streamside vegetation and upslope stability in critical areas.
  Assess habitat suitability, develop implementation plans, and restore native fishes, plants, and wildlife.
  Identify current and potential recreational uses within the area and develop a comprehensive recreation plan for the future.
  Assess the current transportation system and develop an ecologically sensitive transportation system.
  Identify and promote the unique history and culture of the area.
  Promote responsible stewardship of the upper Shavers Fork watershed and the contribution of the watershed to local economies




        The following organizations signed the Healing the Headwaters shared commitment document and
        work with the  Upper Shavers Fork Partners: 

 (click on Title to visit their site)

         Canaan Valley Institute The Mountain Institute
         Cheat Mountain Club The Nature Conservancy
         Cheat Mountain Trust, Inc. USDA, Forest Service
         Friends of the Cheat West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
        Davis and Elkins College West Virginia Stream Partners Program
        Elk River Land Company L.P. West Virginia Rivers Coalition
        Mountaineer Chapter Trout Unlimited West Virginia Trout Unlimited
        Shavers Fork Coalition West Virginia University Division of Forestry
        Snowshoe Mountain, Inc. West Virginia University Extension Service

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Shavers Fork Coalition
P.O. Box 2777
Elkins, WV 26241
(304)-636 4736
FAX: (304)-636 4736

Updated 1/27/15