Markers to tell watershed stories

August 07, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Jefferson County (W.Va.) Water Advisory Committee member Mark Shields stands beside one of the interpretive watershed markers that will be on display in Jefferson County.
By Richard F. Belisle/Staff Writer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — A number of watersheds, large and small, wind their way through Jefferson County on their way to the Potomac River and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay.

In the next few weeks, thanks to members of the Jefferson County Water Advisory Committee and a local Boy Scout, county residents will see interpretive markers telling the stories of five of those watersheds.

The watercourses singled out for recognition by the committee, with one marker each, are Blue Ridge, Evitts Run and Elk Run watersheds, plus two markers for the Town Run Watershed in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The advisory committee’s members are appointed by the Jefferson County Commissioners to advise the commission on water issues.

The 11-member committee received a $4,500 state grant to fund the watershed marker project last year.

According to advisory committee member Mark Shields, it took more than a year to research the history, sources and course of each stream, write narratives for each and design the markers.

Roxanne Shields, Mark Shields’ wife, an artist and graphic designer who owns Shepherdstown Paint and Art, did the art and design work.

Former advisory committee member Dan Riss of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., wrote the narratives.

Each marker details the sources of water that feed the streams, the number of acres or square miles the watersheds cover and whether they feed into larger watersheds like the Shenandoah or Potomac rivers.

The Shenandoah flows into the Potomac at Harpers Ferry.

The first marker for Town Run in Shepherdstown will be installed at the springhouse in Morgan’s Grove Park south of town. That spring is one of six that feeds Town Run, according to the marker. The stream runs for three miles before it reaches the Potomac River.

“Town Run provides an alternate source of potable water for the town, as well as a visual delight as it meanders along the railroad tracks, under houses, across alleys and beneath five streets,” the marker reads.

The second Town Run marker will be installed in a small grassy strip of land between the parking lots of the Shepherdstown Post Office and Jefferson Security Bank.

Sam Michaels Park on Job Corps Road will be the site for the Elks Run Watershed marker.

That watercourse runs nearly 8 miles from the Buckles Farm on W.Va. 9 to the Potomac River below Bolivar Heights, according to the marker’s narrative.

“Along with its tributary, Elk Branch, these two streams collect rain and snow which falls on the ground and comes up in springs over an an area of about 18 miles,” the narrative says.

The marker for Evitts Run will be placed on West Washington Street in Charles Town.

That stream’s headwaters are near Altona Marsh near Harewood Estate, one of Jefferson County’s Washington family homes. It flows for about 10 miles through Charles Town’s West End, then along the south side of town and eventually into the Shenandoah River.

The largest of the five selected watersheds is the Blue Ridge Watershed. It covers an area of about 24 square miles and is part of the Shenandoah Watershed, which is made up of a series of adjacent watersheds. The Blue Ridge Mountain Communities Plan will include a management plan that allows for development and improvement of the area while improving water quality for a major Chesapeake Bay tributary, the Shenandoah River, the narrative says.

That marker will sit near the parking lot of the former St. Andrew’s Church off Mission Road.

Jacob Kubic, 14, of Charles Town, will install all five markers as part of the requirements to earn his Boy Scout Eagle badge.

He said he expects to have them all installed in the next few weeks.

Kubic said the work involves digging two holes for each post on every marker, then setting the poles in concrete, and making sure they are straight and level.

“I figure it should take about an hour to put each one in,” he said.

Mark Shields said the advisory committee members hope to have markers for several other major watersheds in the county, Flowing Springs Run and Rattlesnake Run among them, but the $4,500 grant only paid for the first five.

County Commissioner Lyn Widmyer, the commission’s liaison member on the water advisory committee, said she supports the marker project.

Widmyer said she would ask her fellow commissioners to appropriate money to add more markers.


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