WVU Environmental Research Center

ERC Vision

A well-trained workforce capable of operating and developing new environmentally-based technologies and industries.

Development of new technologies and industries in the region.

Enhanced quality of life in the Appalachians via a healthier environment and healthier people.

Increased reliability of scientific data on air, terrestrial, and water resources in the region.

Enhanced environmental literacy of the populace.

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Davis College

Environmental Research Center

Canaan Valley Institute



Spring/Summer 2012                                                                                                  Issue No. 6

Message from the Director

Greetings! I hope you are all having a relaxing summer. The West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design’s Environmental Research Center (ERC) staff and faculty fellows are having a busy summer with numerous research and outreach projects in progress as well as mixing in vacation and family time. We thank all of you for your continued support of the ERC as well as your work in educating the next generation of environmental stewards. It is also a time of change at the ERC. Walter Veselka has moved on and to his consulting firm AllStar Ecology full time and Shannon Dey is moving on to join the Adventure West Virginia program. We wish both of them well and they will be sorely missed for their dedication and energy to the ERC.

The Environmental Research Center is always looking for opportunities to partner with others. To get involved in the ERC, contact: Dr. James T. (Jim) Anderson, West Virginia University, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, Environmental Research Center, 304.293.3825.

WVU EnvironMentors Caps Off a Successful Inaugural Year

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After spending eight months on their research projects – and giving their first of what could be many important scientific presentations – ten Morgantown High School students, along with their fifteen WVU student mentors, ended the school year with great success in completed their first year in he WVU EnvironMentors program. will be rewarded with a trip to the nation’s capital this month.

EnvironMentors is a national environment-based mentoring program developed by the National Council for Science and Environment. The program provides high school students the opportunity to work with researchers and professionals to develop scientifically rigorous research projects. The program also promotes future studies and careers in environmental science fields. Read more...

Detection of the Golden Algae Prymnesium parvum

The toxic species Prymnesium parvum has been associated with numerous and extensive fish mortalities worldwide. This alga is currently a seasonal nuisance in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, the United States and the Pacific Rim. In September 2009, Dunkard Creek suffered a massive fish kill resulting in the death of more than 160 species of fish, salamanders and endangered mussels in the creek. The stream flows along the Mason Dixon line crossing back and forth between the states until it leaves West Virginia, flowing northeast toward Pennsylvania and then further toward its confluence with the Monongahela River. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and CONSOL Energy along with their consultants determined that the ultimate cause of this massive kill was a bloom of the alga, Prymnesium parvum which can produce release potent ichthyotoxins, known as prymnesins, which affect fish gills. The bloom on the Dunkard Creek was first noted by a WVDEP fly-over and the inspectors noticed the water was discolored and stained over the entire length of the creek. The staining originated at a beaver dam in the headwaters of the West Virginia Fork of Dunkard Creek. This beaver pond is upstream of the Blacksville #2 mine, but downstream of another outfall from CONSOL’s St. Leo Mine.The bloom was believed to have been made possible as a result of high chlorides in the water. The alga thrives in brackish water so normally would not be present in a freshwater stream, and had never before been reported in the northeastern region. Somehow, the alga was introduced and bloomed in Dunkard Creek, which routinely exhibits high conductivity and total dissolved solids (TDS) due to treated mine effluents. Read more...

Evaluation of New Approaches to Mitigation


A year ago we reported that the Environmental Research Center (ERC) had secured a $360,000 grant from the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board to help facilitate highway planning. The goal was to use a watershed approach to reduce stream, wetland, and biodiversity impacts on the Coalfields Expressway (US 121) and the King Coal Highway (US 52) which are located in southern West Virginia. In late April 2012 Walter Veselka and Jim Anderson with the ERC and Greg Akers and Tim Sedosky with the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) traveled to Washington DC to present the final report on the project. Others that were integral to the project completion included Hodjat Ghadimi, Todd Katzner, Sam Lamont, Lance Lin, Todd Petty, Michael Strager. The report was well received and those in attendance asked a number of questions and expressed great interest in what we had to present. Read more...

RiverWorks Discovery Program Receives National Recognition – White House Highlights Jerry Enzler as a Transportation Innovator “Champion of Change”

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WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, July 31st, the White House honored leaders who have devoted their time and efforts to helping their communities reach new heights through transportation innovation. Transportation Innovators are individuals or organizations who have provided exemplary leadership in the growth and expansion of the transportation industry at the local, state or regional level.

“Today’s Champions are leaders in developing and implementing innovative transportation initiatives,” said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “They are making a difference every day in their local communities and across the country by improving America’s transportation infrastructure and helping their friends and neighbors get where they need to go.” Read more...