Lick Run flows into the Cheat River south of Kingwood at WV-72 near Patriot Mining’s old coal prep site, now owned by Friends of the Cheat. The main source of pollution to Lick Run are several portals located in the headwaters.
In 2006, FOC purchased the 4.5 acre parcel with the idea that someday FOC would construct a treatment system there. But, because of the severity of the pollution and the lack of space between the portals and the stream, we now know a treatment system will likely have to be offsite, and more expensive than FOC can tackle through current grant avenues.
In Spring of 2017, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection completed a land reclamation project at the portals. However, this project also could not fully address the site’s complicated issues. Proper reclamation at Lick Run portals will take a multimillion dollar active treatment system - and a clever sludge management plan.
"Moonscape" Formation at Lick Run Portals
FOC is working to attract a larger audience to Lick Run in order to bring attention and resources to address this major pollution source. As part of the RE/CREATE project, a hiking spur from the Cheat River Rail-Trail will lead users uphill to a Lick Run AMD learning park, where they will see firsthand the otherworldly appearance of unabated pollution flowing out the mine portal and resulting in an iron-laden moonscape.
Mouth Of Luck Run at Low Water - photo by Joey Kimmet
Recently during a low water event, the effect of Lick Run on the main stem of the Cheat was unignorable. While Cheat main stem water levels can drop significantly after a couple of weeks without rain, deep mines such as Lick Run continue to release steady flows of acid and metal-rich waters that the low-water Cheat main stem cannot dilute, resulting in a dangerous mixing zone for aquatic life where to two meet. Lick Run is now the top polluter to the Cheat main stem, and one of the 4 “dirty sisters” - Pringle, Lick, Heather, and Morgan - that deposit heavy metals, such as iron and aluminum, into the river before the Rt. 7 bridge.
Rebirth has begun, but there’s more work to be done. The Cheat River is in the midst of a river renaissance, with thriving aquatic populations returning to its waters, but there are still some elephants in the room (aka - severely impaired streams discharging into the main stem). FOC will continue to look for new partners, new technologies, and the additional resources needed to meet the challenge of Lick Run portals head-on. - Graph designed by Donnie Riggs.
Muddy Creek & North Fork Fish Survey Results
FOC Restoration Program Manager, Madison Ball, holds a Creek Chub in Greens Run
In July, Friends of the Cheat conducted an electrofishing survey on North Fork Greens Run, near Kingwood, WV - with assistance from the Fisheries and Wildlife Resources Program, part of WVU’s Davis College.
FOC has worked hard to restore the North Fork, with two treatment sites located within this small watershed. FOC had heard of fish sightings in the North Fork, and was optimistic that some populations had returned or persisted in spite of the severe acid mine drainage impairment downstream. The main stem of Greens Run, as well as the South Fork and Middle Fork, are devoid of aquatic life.
Key: Greens Run (light green) - North Fork Greens Run Watershed (dark green) - Cheat River Watershed (light peach) - Cheat River (dark blue line)