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August 2013: Wild and Wonderful Cheat River Canyon

From the Photographer...

Kent Mason

This image of the Cheat River Canyon in West Virginia was taken in the summer during a low water period thus exposing the rocky riverbed. The "Cheat" is located on the western side of the Allegheny mountain range in the eastern United States. These are the second oldest mountains in the world, although once were grander than the Rocky Mountains, they have worn down over the millions of years since their creation.

The Cheat River is one of the longest undammed rivers in the Allegheny Mountains. Located midway between the hotter southern states of the United States and the colder northern areas, the Cheat River canyon contains a wide diversity of animal and plant life and is an excellent example of eastern hardwood forest. It is home to the endangered Indiana bats, the Cheat Canyon Land snail (the only place it exists) and many other rare and endangered species.

As the river drops from its headwaters of Cheat Mountain, it plunges into a deep canyon which contains Class V rapids and it is a popular location for kayaking and white water rafting. To protect the river, many local groups, including The Nature Conservancy, have worked diligently to protect and restore the rivers tributaries from the impacts of man such as acid mine drainage.

The Cheat River canyons biological diversity and significance, as well as its value to mankind as a wild place, has resulted in the Conservancy’s West Virginia chapter identifying it as a high conservation priority. I provide professional photographic services to the Conservancy as a volunteer because I place a high priority on conserving these significant wild places. Thus, on a Nature Conservancy trip to visit a portion of the canyon it hopes to protect, I photographed the area, which resulted in this photograph. 

The image was taken with a Canon 5D full frame camera, a 24 mm to 105 mm F4L lens, a B&W polarizing filter and a Gitzo mountaineer tripod. The West Virginia chapter is working diligently to protect this and other truly wild and wonderful pieces of our natural world.

Kent Mason, a retiree, decided to give five years of professional photographic services to The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia after he found out his favorite photo location, Bear Rocks, was a Nature Conservancy preserve. See more of Kent’s images at:


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