The Cheat Canyon and Cheat River have been conservation priorities for the Conservancy for decades. It is home to diverse wildlife—from the endangered Indiana bat to more common species like bobcats, otters and bald eagles. The canyon is the only place on Earth where the federally threatened Cheat threetooth snail occurs.
What We're Doing
In an agreement announced in April, 2014, The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund took action to protect 3,836 acres along the Cheat River in Preston County. This complex of lands is jointly managed by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources as part of the Cheat Canyon Wildlife Management Area. The creation of the Wildlife Management Area preserves the spectacular scenic and natural values of the canyon and improves public access for recreation. When completed, the $7 million project will protect most of the canyon not already included in Cooper’s Rock State Forest and Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area. The Nature Conservancy has committed more than $3 million to the project.
TNC retains about 1,300 acres as the Charlotte Ryde Nature Preserve, paid for through a bequest from the estate of Charlotte Ryde. The project also provides the opportunity to reopen a section of the 330-mile Allegheny Trail that had to be re-routed after it was closed off by a previous owner.
Additional funding is being provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, mitigation and settlement money set aside for habitat conservation purposes, as well as the Outdoor Heritage Conservation Fund, the state’s only fund dedicated for conservation of important wildlife habitat, forests and lands of public significance.