It’s official. The Opequon Watershed Inc. (VA) and the Opequon Creek Project Team (WV) have joined forces and will operate under The Opequon Watershed’s 501(c)(3) charter, re-dedicated to preserving and protecting the Opequon Creek—from its source in Virginia to the Potomac River in West Virginia. The highly committed board consists of Steve Bauserman, President; Jim Lawrence, Treasurer; George Ohrstrom II, Sally Anderson, “Captain” Lou Scavnicky, and Herb Peddicord.
The Opequon Watershed, Inc. a nonprofit 501(c)(3), was founded in 1992 with the idea of serving the entire watershed in both Virginia and West Virginia.
Our mission is to promote the understanding, protection and preservation of the Creek and its tributaries for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations.
The group and its individual members were instrumental in establishing the Abrams Creek Wetlands Preserve in October 2003 as the City of Winchester’s first formally protected natural area. Members continue to collaborate with the Winchester Parks and Recreation Department and other partners in promoting and managing this special place in the Opequon Creek watershed.
The Opequon Watershed has conducted tree plantings in vulnerable riparian areas and has sponsored an annual 5K run. The members were instrumental in the establishment of Winchester’s Green Circle, an approximately 8-mile park connecting several significant sites while attempting to follow Opequon tributaries within the city. In our initial years, we conducted stream sampling for macroinvertebrates as well as water chemistry sampling of the mainstem.
We must have done a good job of keeping our light under a bushel because in 2005 the Opequon Creek Project Team was formed to take care of the West Virginia half of the creek. True to its name, it was project-focused — specifically projects that lead to reduction in pollutants (primarily nutrients, sediment, fecal coliform bacteria, and trash) entering the Opequon Creek and its tributaries in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.
So we had two organizations, working separately. Like a lot of small watershed groups, some years each group has been very active; and other years not so much. About year ago, with the help of The Downstream Project, we started talking about bringing some new energy into the effort — especially education and awareness. The first decision was to merge our efforts in Virginia and West Virginia under one banner — the creek, after all, does not recognize state boundaries.
The second thing was to not try to reinvent the wheel. We continue to look for partners who already have volunteers and programs, to see if we can collaborate to benefit the watershed.