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FOB recieves $15K grant from Dominion Foundation for Trail Restoration

On Tuesday June 14, 2016 the Dominion Foundation presented a $15,000 grant to Friends of Blackwater for hiking/biking trail improvements in Blackwater Canyon near Thomas, WV. 

“Friends of Blackwater is very excited to receive a grant from Dominion Resources to improve public hiking and biking trails in the Monongahela National Forest, including the beautiful Limerock and Canyon Rim Trails. These important Upper Blackwater Canyon recreational trails link the Town of Thomas to the Olson Fire Tower. This project will be a big benefit to local outdoor enthusiasts, and the upgraded trail network will bring more visitors to the area and improve the regional economy.” said Judy Rodd, Director.

Pictured from Left to Right: Christine Mitchell, Dominion External Affairs Representative; Judy Rodd from Friends of Blackwater; Bob Orndorff, Dominion State Policy Director.

You can also read more about this grant and the project by clicking here for a great article by Rick Steelhammer of the Charleston Gazette.

Latest FOB Newsletter Now Available Online!

Bat Killings by Wind Energy Turbines Continue

Industry plan to reduce deadly effects of blades may not be enough, some scientists say

Click here to read this great article published in Scientific American by Amy Matthews Amos of Shepherdstown, WV.

Special Photo Offer!!

Photographer Steve Shaluta has graciously donated the use ofthis and three other stunning photos to Friends of Blackwater for our fundraising efforts. Any of these would make the perfect gift for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day or just because. Click here for more information and to order.

FOB featured in "Currents" Short Film

"Currents", a short film celebrating the dozens of volunteer watershed groups in West Virginia premiered at the West Virginia Rivers Film Festival at the Metropolitan Theater in Morgantown on October 22. Both Judy Rodd and Brandae Mullins were featured in the film. Click here to watch the trailer and the short film.

Annie Dillard Awarded 2014 National Humanities Medal

FOB is so proud that our longtime Advisory Board member and dear friend Annie Dillard has received this award. Congratulations Annie!

To view the ceremony please click here. For more information about Annie Dillard, click here.

Canyon Rim Trail Work Progressing

The work crew for The Allegheny Trail North (part of the West Virginia Scenic Trail Association) just completed opening up the Canyon Rim Trail which begins near the Olson Fire Tower area and runs south of Forest Road 18 as it heads west toward Douglas, high above Blackwater Canyon. Go try it out … but wear boots and look out for rattlesnakes if its warm! Videos of the project are on our website:

Our next trail work will be on the Limerock Trail and the Blackwater Canyon rail trail from the sewage plant to Snyder Run. Thanks to the National Forest Foundation for their support.

Pictured Left to right: Robert, Bill, Steve, Greg Edwards (our fearless leader) and Les. (not pictured Brian Bellew and Erica Staats.)

Blackwater Fish Kill

A "fish kill" in the Blackwater River was reported to authorities by Friends of Blackwater volunteer John Arnold on September 16th. A malfunction at the liming station above the Town of Davis caused the pH in the river to rise to the abnormal level of 14. A computer failure apparently let excessive amounts of limestone enter the water, causing an extreme rise in alkalinity that killed an estimated 23,000 fish -- mostly minnows and daces – over a several-mile-long stretch of river. Officials fixed the problem quickly after Arnold's notice. The pH in the River has returned to normal, aquatic insects are coming back, small crayfish can be seen, and there are live fish coming in from tributaries. DNR fish biologist Frank Jernejcic says that there is enough breeding stock in the river for the population to return to normal in a couple of months. Trout stocking in the River will begin again in the spring. Thanks to the FOB volunteers and people at the DEP and DNR who responded to this crisis!

Click here to read the article that appeared in the WV Gazette.

Archived 9/27/2013

Thomas City Trails Signage Installation

On June 1, 2013 signage (including mapping) was installed at the Thomas City Park to better guide the use of the Thomas City Trails.

Blackwater Heroes Honored

Blackwater Heroes J.R. Clifford and  Carrie Williams – portrayed by Professor Atiba Ellis and Jacqueline Dooley --  "came to life" at the Tucker County High School on June 24, 2013 – to celebrate West Virginia's 150th Birthday! Read more.........

Archived 6/18/2013

FOB Files “Intent to Sue Notice” on Upper Greenbrier North Timber Project

On February 28th, 2013 Friends of Blackwater sent a “Notice of Intent to Sue” to the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service on the Upper Greenbrier North Timber Project. The Monongahela National Forest has not considered negative effects on the Indiana bat which has lost 80% of its population in West Virginia due to the deadly fungus White Nose Syndrome.  Logging in this area could devastate these fragile bats. FOB requested that the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service create new guidelines for the Monongahela in the face of this epidemic.  We will keep you up to date! Click here to read the Notice.

Click here to see what else we are doing to protect bats and the Monongahela National Forest.

Over 5 Million Bats Killed by White Nose Syndrome

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and partners estimate that at least 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats have now died from white-nose syndrome. West Virginia state bat biologist, Craig Stihler states that all caves surveyed in 2012 and 2013 are infected with the fungus.

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is decimating bat populations across eastern North America, with mortality rates reaching up to 100 percent at many sites. First documented in New York in 2006, the disease has spread quickly into 16 states and four Canadian provinces. For more information, please click here.
A New Study by Forest Service researchers predict that climate change will shift the population center for Indiana bat into the Appalachian region. For more information please click here.

Archived 5/15/2013

URGENT ACTION ALERT! Comment by 4PM ON 4/29 to protect WV’s rare Diamond Darter!

We are excited to learn that one of the rarest fish in the world the Diamond Darter lives near Charleston, WV in the Elk River!! But this small, shimmery fish needs your help to survive. In the past 30 years, fewer than 20 of these translucent fish have been spotted. And threats from coal mining and fracking could quickly push this very rare fish to extinction.

The diamond darter once swam in the rivers of Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – but today it survives only in a 22-mile section of the Elk River in West Virginia, where it faces dire threats from the energy industry.

In 2012 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect the diamond darter under the Endangered Species Act with critical habitat. Now the energy industry is opposing the darter's protection, even though both federal and state biologists have acknowledged that the diamond darter needs Endangered Species Act protections in order to survive.
West Virginia's coal mining doesn't threaten just this rare fish. Protecting habitat for the diamond darter will help protect drinking water for people.

Comments must be received by 4pm April 29th! Please click here to send a comment letter.

Tom & Judy Rodd's Colossal Harmonic Convergence

Join us to celebrate our 45th Wedding Anniversary, and our moving back to Preston County -- and to raise funds to support Friends of Blackwater and the J.R. Clifford Project. We'll have tasty food and drinks, and live music. Click here for more details.

Latest FOB Newsletter Now Available

Read about the latest developments on the Upper Greenbrier North Project and how a new website will help citizens protect Eastern National Forests against oil and gas development and fracking.


Spotlight-Archived 3/11/2013

The J.R. Clifford Project

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and African American History Month, we are spotlighting The J.R. Clifford Project.

John Robert Clifford was West Virginia’s first African-American attorney, a newspaper publisher, editor and writer, a schoolteacher and principal, a civil rights pioneer, a founding member of the Niagara Movement (forerunner to the NAACP), a Civil War veteran, and a graduate of Storer College. In 1898, Clifford won a landmark civil-rights-in-education case, that came from Blackwater Canyon, before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals: Williams v. Board of Education. For more information about The J.R. Clifford Project please visit You can order materials (coloring books, posters and lesson plans) for use in your classroom, church or any setting by clicking here.

Leonard Harris receives "Living the Dream" Award

In 2012, Leonard Harris and his wife Helen graciously hosted and partnered with Friends of Blackwater’s "J.R. Clifford Project" -- in the Project’s educational work in the Eastern Panhandle. Harris is a founder and volunteer director of the Sumner-Ramer African American School Museum, located in Martinburg’s historic Ramer Center, where Blackwater Hero J.R. Clifford (1848-1933) was once a school principal
Leonard Harris was recently honored by the WV Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission with the Commission’s annual "Living the Dream" Award. Harris’ award was announced at the Commission’s annual Banquet, held in Charleston, WV on January 12, 2013.

News - archived 2/6/2013

Senator Rockefeller to Hold Hearing on Pipeline Issues

Senator John D. Rockefeller will hold a hearing on gas pipeline issues at the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse, in Charleston, WV on January 28, 2013.  The issue is of special interest to Friends of Blackwater because NiSource has requested a one-mile wide blanket permit to kill endangered species along its pipeline corridor from Louisiana to New York.  The pipeline corridor passes through a number of National Forests, including the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. Friends of Blackwater joined Earth Justice and other environmental groups in challenging this request.  Friends of Blackwater will remain engaged on this issue.

Bad news for bats: deadly fungus persists in caves

Researchers have found that the organism that causes deadly white-nose syndrome persists in caves long after it has killed the bats in those caves. A study just published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology shows that the fungus can
survive in soil for months, even years, after the bats have departed. Click here to read more.

Actions - archived 2/6/2013

Moving to the Mountains!

By March 2013 (or sooner, depending on the weather), our main Friends of Blackwater office will be in the Town of Davis, in Tucker County. Davis, of course, is the picturesque and scenic gateway to Canaan Valley -- a popular outdoor recreation center for the High Allegheny region. Click here for more about this move!

SPOTLIGHT - Archived 1/17/2013

Special Donors: Donna & Carroll Cook of Grant County, WV

Donna and Carroll Cook grew up in the shadows of the Allegheny Front on small farms in the steep rocky terrain of one of West Virginia’s highest mountains. A typical childhood day was roaming the great outdoors and working and playing on their family farm. During the summer, their families ran sheep and cattle on the beautiful high plateau of the Allegheny.

  To read more, please click here.


NEWS - Archived 08/29/2012


Welcome to Boomtown Java Open next to Our Davis Office

New Manager Raul Ramirez invites you to sample the coffee and pastries, buy prints of Davis during the timber boom at the end of the lastcentury (FOB gets 5% of the sale price)and check in to camp along the river!!  For more information please click here.



SPOTLIGHT - 05/31/2012

Friends of Blackwater has been busy this Spring creating a new website and logo. Our FACEBOOK PAGE IS NEW TOO. 

Thanks to wonderful nature photographer Kent Mason we have gorgeous new photographs of the High Allegheny mountains of West Virginia to highlight our conservation work.  Please send suggestions for improvements and new issues for us to cover and thank you for all you do for us!!

Judy Rodd, Director