The Opequon Creek Watershed

The Opequon Creek watershed is the number one priority in West Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort.  The Opequon watershed begins near the town of Opequon in Frederick County, Virginia, and flows east to Clarke County where it bends and flows north into West Virginia and to the Potomac River. The Opequon Creek is part of the Upper Potomac River Watershed, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The lower portion of the Opequon watershed covers an area of about 200 square miles in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties. The West Virginia portion of the Opequon Creek is 34.1 miles long. An analysis of 2003 land use/land cover data for the West Virginia watershed revealed: 51.4% forest, 35.3% agriculture, and 9.5% urban/residential. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, sediment loads, and other non point source pollutants in Opequon Creek, and its tributaries, are declining due to restoration projects throughout the watershed.

CVI’s major efforts in this watershed have focused on Mill Creek and Tuscarora Creek (tributaries to Opequon Creek).

Mill Creek:  To date, CVI and our partners have completed two restoration projects in the watershed to apply the practices laid out in the Watershed Based Plan. The first included restoring over 1,200 feet of stream that required adjusting the stream profile and dimensions and installing wood and rock structure to maintain proper flow direction and re-establish grade control. The second project stabilized approximately 800 feet of streambank by cutting back high banks to angles that would reduce erosion, removing invasive species, and replanting the riparian area with native trees and shrubs. Bioengineering methods were also used to help stabilize the newly graded streambanks, including brush mattresses, live fascines, and live stakes.

Tuscarora Creek: To date, CVI and our partners have removed a fish passage barrier to provide 16.7 miles of upstream habitat connectivity, reduced sediment pollution by stabilizing 800 feet of streambank, and developed wildlife habitat and improved water quality by planting riparian buffers along the creek.  Construction activities included removing the dam, realigning the stream channel to increase sinuosity, creation of appropriate pool sizes and pool to riffle spacing, instream structures for stream and bank stability using logs and boulders, and implementing bioengineering practices including brush mattresses, live stakes, fascines, and some rooted trees and shrubs. Construction activities were completed in May 2016.

Big thanks to all of our partners:

WV Department of Environmental Protection, Opequon Creek Project Team, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation