The Cheat River, Cheat River Canyon, West Virginia.
Cheat Canyon The Cheat River, Cheat River Canyon, West Virginia. © Kent Mason

Places We Protect

Charlotte Ryde Preserve

West Virginia

Spectacular white water runs through this remote part of Cheat Canyon, which features a variety of rare plants and animals.

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. 

The preserve is home to a great diversity of species, including rare land snails, bats, cave animals, plants, salamanders and more. The federally threatened Cheat flat-spired three-toothed land snail is only known to occur in Cheat Canyon. Other forest and rock outcrop species include the Allegheny woodrat, a species declining in many Appalachian habitats but doing well in West Virginia. The river scour communities of the preserve harbor rare plants, including large-flowered Barbara's-buttons, smooth rose and sand grape.

Charlotte Ryde Preserve At Cheat Canyon
Charlotte Ryde Nature Preserve is a 1361 acre preserve along Cheat Canyon in Preston County, West Virginia, featuring five miles of the Cheat River and is one of the premier whitewater rafting spots in the state.

Charlotte Ryde Preserve Located in a remote part of Cheat Canyon approximately 5 river miles downstream of the town of Albright.

Support Our Work in Charlotte Ryde

The canyon and its river have been conservation priorities for the Conservancy for decades. Now, through the coordinated efforts of multiple partners, Cheat Canyon is being protected. Help us protect this beloved West Virginia landscape.