At the western edge of Upshur County lies a small perennial stream called Rover’s Run. This stream derives its name from a case of mistaken identity, according to Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, an amateur archaeologist, author of a 1915 book on the history of Hacker’s Creek, and later Western pioneer who grew up nearby. McWhorter describes his grandfather and a friend’s (John Edmonds) hunting trip. As they traveled through the unbroken forest, Mr. Edmonds spied a wolf off in the distance. After taking the shot, he approached the dead animal, only to find that he had killed his favorite dog, Rover.
Like the rest of the Hackers Creek watershed, this stream runs through a deep valley surrounded by steep, narrow ridges. One of the overlooking ridgetops, which also happens to be the tallest point in the watershed, is identified on old maps as “Bear Knob.” This name comes from another hunting anecdote from the mid-1800s, also recorded by McWhorter. After a hog was taken from a farm, Isaac Reger took a rifle and hunting dogs to track down the offending bear. His dogs chased the bear into a tree on the tall knob, allowing Mr. Reger to take his revenge. The knob had formerly been known as “Potato Knob,” due to its profile’s similarity to a potato mound, and later became a popular site for Easter parties.
The Role of Archaeology and History
Although McWhorter is considered to be a reliable source, his information is based on oral tradition. This is often the case in local history, which mixes hearsay, “fish stories,” and half-remembered events that are much more colorful than the dry government records and genealogies that scholars use to research the past. While we may never know where Rover actually died, or if a hungry bear was really a defining local moment, archaeology can give us a science-based look into the everyday lives of past individuals. History can tell us Mr. Smith lived in the year eighteen-something, but archaeology can tell us that he had a habit of smoking with a horn pipe and that his wife bought her dishes from the city instead of the local general store. On a bigger scale, archaeology can answer questions about socio-economic status, farmstead layout, and other topics that don’t always make it into written records.
Phase I and II Survey Results
In November 2014, AllStar Ecology began an archaeological survey of the Bear Knob Property, which includes both Rover’s Run and Bear Knob. A total of 738 artifacts were collected, including Native American tools and pottery, a horseshoe, possible lead shot, and fragments of dishes and bottles from early European-American settlers. These artifacts belonged to 12 different archaeological sites and may span as much as ten thousand years, providing a unique look at human history within a single West Virginia valley. These resources included isolated lithics, scatters of prehistoric artifacts, historic-period debris scatters associated with old houses, and a group of interesting rock piles.
Historical Research Results
As AllStar Ecology’s Archaeologists began to study the artifacts and relate them to historical documents, the story of an early West Virginia family began to emerge. Instead of just reading about the Lawmans, Bonds, and other inhabitants of the hollow, we were holding the physical representations of their lives and actions. According to a descendant, William Lawman and his father Barnhard built a log cabin at the head of Rover’s Run in the 1860s, matching the interpretations of survey findings. Along with an older brother, William fought for the Union during the Civil War, while Barnhard and his 10-year-old son fought for the Confederacy. The latter two moved to a neighboring hollow after the war and a path between the two is visible in aerial imagery. The remains of their homes were studied and can contribute to our understanding of daily life during this difficult period in history.
The Future of the Bear Knob Property
Many of the identified cultural resources will be preserved within an aquatic resource mitigation bank to be constructed on the property, which will allow for their future access by archaeologists, perhaps as part of mitigation for another project. The Bear Knob Property survey was a unique experience for AllStar Ecology, as it uniquely shed light on the history of an entire hollow and provided an example of how cultural resource management can benefit from mitigation banking.
AllStar Ecology had a very busy and successful 2017 as it was one of our company’s best years on record. This success was also demonstrated in our Employer Sponsored Volunteer Program. This program encourages our employees to serve and support our local and regional communities through AllStar Ecology sponsored volunteerism efforts. In 2017, twenty-three of our employees (over half of our staff) utilized the program, represented AllStar Ecology, and provided more than 250 hours of community service. We provided educational outreach to local schools, environmental surveys and reporting, litter cleanups, food bank assistance, and volunteerism on local boards.
In 2017, six AllStar Ecology employees volunteered their time at local schools and organizations to teach youth and young adults about environmental science. Hundreds of participants learned about topics including streams and wetlands, mitigation, bat biology, freshwater mussels, and other endangered species. AllStar Ecology staff also volunteered to judge merit awards for the WVU student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architecture and Ridgedale Elementary School’s Science Fair.
Our staff’s education and experience in numerous environmental fields allows us to use our expertise to support and assist community groups and agencies with things such as environmental surveys, report writing, habitat analysis, etc. For example, our Bat Biologists and Environmental Scientists volunteered their time in 2017 to complete a bat inspection and report for the First Presbyterian Church of Fairmont, WV. Our biologists also participated in the Lake Barkley Kentucky Bat Blitz, to assist fellow scientists and to help non-profits with permitting and field work. Further, three AllStar Ecology Environmental Scientists assisted the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection with rattlesnake surveys. The surveys were completed at Coopers Rock State Forest where they encountered copperheads, black rat snakes, ring-neck snakes and timber rattlesnakes. Lastly, one of AllStar Ecology’s Stream Assessment Specialists volunteered to assist Friends of Deckers Creek, a local non-profit watershed group, throughout 2017 with fish community sampling using backpack electrofishers.
Community Boards and Other Groups Served
In 2017, numerous AllStar employees volunteered on a wide range of boards and provide assistance to a variety of community groups. Boards and associations. These included the Association of Mid-Atlantic Aquatic Biologists, church groups, the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society, Cub Scouts, Friends of Deckers Creek, fire halls, Daughters of the American Revolution, and West Virginia University School of Business, Wildlife and Fisheries Resources, and Landscape Architecture programs. Projects supported in 2017 ranged from fundraising events to support children in need, litter clean ups, and food bank maintenance.
To read more about AllStar Ecology, visit our About Us page.
Eric Schroder, AllStar Ecology Bat Biologist, was recently the lead author on a journal article titled “Indiana bat maternity roost habitat preference within Midwestern United States upland Oak-Hickory (Quercus-Carya) forest”. The article focuses on the Indiana bat, a federally listed endangered species, and the complex combination of tree and landscape characteristics in influencing habitat preferences. The article is featured in the November 2017 version of Forest Ecology and Management.
AllStar Ecology is excited to welcome our newest staff members Derek Springston, Taryn Moser, Kayt Collins, and Mark Hepner. Mr. Springston and Mrs. Moser will be focusing on environmental permitting for a wide variety of clients while Ms. Collins and Mr. Hepner bring a lot of field experience including bats, delineations, restoration, environmental inspections, and plants to the team. Welcome aboard!
To read more about AllStar Ecology, visit our About Us page.
Three low-head dams (West Milford, Highland and Two Lick Dams) on the West Fork River in Harrison County, West Virginia, were planned for removal by the Clarksburg Water Board with assistance from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). These dams were constructed in the early 1900’s for flood control and drinking water supply but no longer served their purpose and were a hazard to recreation along the river.
In September 2015, AllStar Ecology staff led efforts to relocate all live freshwater mussels from the work areas downstream of each dam. In West Virginia, all freshwater mussel species are now of conservation concern due to severe declines in their populations. In fact, freshwater mussels are the most imperiled species across the United States. With assistance from the USFWS and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR), a total of 116 freshwater mussels of eight species were collected and relocated outside of the dam work areas.
Dam Removal & Mussel Salvage
The demolition of the three dams occurred in the spring and summer of 2016. Each dam was demolished in increments so that water levels upstream receded gradually over time. This exposed 12.5 miles of river bank on the West Fork River home to freshwater mussels that were now stranded without water. AllStar Ecology, USFWS, WVDNR, and numerous other partners and volunteers used canoes with apple pickers and litter grabbers to collect stranded mussels. In total, 1,476 live freshwater mussels of eight species were relocated to newly exposed riffles within the West Fork River with help from 34 volunteers searching for a total of 646 hours.
Restoration & Future Goals
Removing the three dams opened a continuous 35 miles of river on the West Fork and returned 13.5 miles of lake type habitat to river type habitat. This will improve fish movement, sediment transport, and freshwater mussel populations and increase recreation opportunities. The project has also spurred the removal of tons of trash and litter from the areas and has lowered the cost of drinking water treatment for the City of Clarksburg.
The USFWS and its partners hope to continue river restoration on the West Fork River through additional dam removal and modifications. AllStar Ecology will continue to lead efforts to relocate freshwater mussels from work areas and along exposed banks.
The AllStar Difference
We develop mussel survey plans and conduct the necessary surveys to fulfill the needs of various industries, land managers and the scientific community. AllStar has performed hundreds of mussel surveys throughout West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for industries including oil and gas, utilities, loading and dredging facilities, municipalities, non-profits, and government agencies, etc. to meet the needs of our clients. Learn more about our mussel services by clicking here or contact us for more information.
Found throughout the eastern United States and Canada, spring ephemerals thrive on the floor of rich, undisturbed woodlands and can be quite beautiful. This verdant, moist environment is the ideal site for myrmecochory, seed dispersal by ants. The seeds of spring ephemerals bear fatty external appendages called eliaosomes. The insects, attracted to the elaiosomes, carry the booty back to their nests, where the lipid-rich food source is consumed by their young. The unharmed seeds are thrown into a midden, a rich, composting stew that stimulates germination. A single ant colony may collect as many as a thousand seeds over a season. While the volume is great, the distance is not; on average, a seed is carried just two meters from the parent plant. Because offspring remain so local (unlike plants dispersed by birds or wind), habitat fragmentation is a major threat to the survival of spring ephemerals. Once these plants are gone from the forest, it is rare that they return. To help you identify these plants and their characteristics, view AllStar’s primer below.
AllStar Ecology was formed in 2007 to provide sound environmental consulting on natural resource issues for industry, engineering firms, government agencies, non-profits, developers and other businesses.