The goal of this report is to highlight the Lower New River’s significance to local communities and the nation, clearly define and communicate the clean water challenges facing the river, and recommend strategic actions to promote clean water in the river and its tributary creeks.

The Lower New River is the beating heart of the region through which it flows. The river is at the core of the area’s unique and threatened natural resources, its rich cultural heritage, and its economic future. We define the Lower New River watershed as the as the 690-square-mile land area that drains into the New River from Hinton to Gauley Bridge in Southern West Virginia. The Lower New River watershed includes 53 river-miles of the New River Gorge National River, which was designated a national park unit by Congress in 1978. The goal of this report is to highlight the Lower New River’s significance to local communities and the nation, clearly define and communicate the clean water challenges facing the river, and recommend strategic actions to promote clean water in the river and its tributary creeks. This report is a call to action to engage those who care about the Lower New River, and the communities that depend on it for drinking water, recreational opportunities, tourist dollars, and spiritual renewal. We begin by sharing stories and images of the Lower New River that illustrate its importance to the region and the country.

Scattered amidst the lush, biologically diverse West Virginia forest and river are reminders of the once thriving coal mining and railroad communities and memories of camping and fishing with family and friends. More than 100,000 commercial rafters and private boaters enjoy wild and wonderful world-class whitewater rafting on the New each year. More than one million visitors spend an estimated $130 million annually in the New River Gorge region. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) recently selected the New River region for their fourth national high adventure camp, national jamboree site, and leadership academy. In 2013, the BSA will host its first national jamboree on the site, inviting an estimated 30,000 scouts to the region. Local residents and visitors from afar all appreciate the New River Gorge – this report is about recognizing and addressing the water-quality situation that affects each one of us.

We also document the state of the New River watershed today – what are the clean water challenges to the New River and the creeks that flow into it? Downstream Strategies, an environmental consulting company based in West Virginia, assisted the Alliance with conducting data analysis on water quality, gathering and analyzing stakeholder input, predicting project feasibility, and arriving at priority tributaries to focus recommendations.