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Ernie Nester Chapter of Trout Unlimited's 10th Annual Bucket Brigade Draws Record Support

Nearly twelve tons of limestone sand was placed by people power into the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Williams River in the Monongahela National Forest to improve the water quality for brook trout, the state's official fish, according to the Ernie Nester Chapter of Trout Unlimited, which announced today the success of the 10th Annual Bucket Brigade.

Led by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR), 130 volunteers from eight chapters of Trout Unlimited, employees and family of seven West Virginia Walmart stores, and fishing enthusiasts passed 926 buckets of limestone sand from volunteer to volunteer along a quarter mile brigade line to a headwater section of the Middle Fork of the Williams River.

The purpose of the Bucket Brigade project is to improve the pH water quality of the Middle Fork of the Williams River, so brook trout will continue their resurgence after being absent from the watershed for over fifty years. The stream is within the Cranberry Wilderness Area, which means no machinery can be used to place the limestone sand.

"The Bucket Brigade is one of the largest outings for the Ernie Nester Chapter of Trout Unlimited. It is one of the many projects Trout Unlimited does across West Virginia to support WVDNR on ensuring cold, clean, fishable waters," said Jeff Nelsen, project coordinator of the Bucket Brigade for the Ernie Nester Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The Summersville Walmart store led Cindy Herndon donated lunch for all the volunteers. Susan Nester, the wife of the late Ernie Nester, supplied drinks and snacks for the volunteers. WVDNR provided nearly twelve tons of limestone sand. T-shirts were provided by WVDNR and WVDEP's Save Our Stream Program. Special thanks to Amanda Parks for her artwork used for the T-shirts and WVDNR Director Stephen McDaniel for helping on the brigade line.

The Ernie Nester Chapter of Trout Unlimited (ENCTU) started making donations to WVDNR for limestone sand projects in 2005 and makes a contribution every year for three projects including the Middle Fork of the Williams. Funds to help with the Middle Fork liming project have come from the Walmart Foundation, West Virginia Trophy Hunters Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, AEP Foundation, and ENCTU general funds. The total amount donated for the limestone sands’ projects is approximately $100,000 and has been executed with over 1000 volunteers for ten continuous years.

"This event would not be possible without the leadership of John Rebinski with WVDNR who located this headwater section and started carrying limestone sand on his own back over ten years ago. Together with WVDNR, Trout Unlimited members and others who care deeply about the quality of our state's waters and fisheries we will continue to look for ways to enhance trout streams across our region," concluded Nelsen.

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