April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

Want to nominate a River Hero?
Contact:
Summer Rich


Meet Our May Stakeholder Spotlight:
Melanie Seiler


The month of May marks the beginning of river clean-up season, and Melanie Seiler is a rockstar when it comes to getting the community involved to keep the river healthy! Based out of West Virginia, Melanie has been participating in New River Conservancy clean-ups for over a decade. However, her work for the River extends beyond the boat. Melanie also serves on the New River Conservancy Board of Directors and leadership committee, helping to steer us in the right direction!

Continue reading to learn more about Melanie's Work!


Born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Melanie has spent most of her life in Fayetteville, West Virginia. Melanie grew up in a family owned rafting outfitter and became a river guide on the New River at age 18. When you factor in a a degree in Adventure Sports, river clean-ups are Melanie’s specialty. According to Melanie, getting involved with river clean-ups was a “natural reaction to being on the river full time and seeing the need to remove glass, metal, and plastic waste from our gorge.” From 2001-2012 Melanie coordinated river clean-ups with the West Virginia Professional River Outfitters to schedule group clean-ups with commercial rafting outfitters. For these clean-ups Melanie partnered with the New River Gorge National River for their assistance on the water and trash pick up, and with West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for gloves and bags. Melaine’s favorite part of River Clean Ups? Finding Treasures, “There is a great sense of adventure, discover, and immediate gratification.”

After volunteering and helping NRC with river clean ups for over a decade, Melanie joined NRC’s board in the summer of 2018. While Melanie continues to host and coordinate clean-up events, she also serves on the leadership committee, and is currently researching water quality testing in the New River Gorge region.Melanie’s work with New River Conservancy is just a small part of what she does for the New. Her passion for promoting recreation on our waterways is evident throughout all of her work. In 2015 Melanie founded Active South West Virginia, which provides free physical activity programs through the New River Gorge region, led by volunteer community members to improve the health of the workforce. Now Melanie enjoys introducing the sport of stand up paddle boarding to the area, and has directed the New River Gorge SUP Race for the last 7 years.

Thank you Melanie, for all that you do to protect the New!




Meet Our April Stakeholder Spotlight: Rufus Edmisten
2019 New River Symposium Keynote Speaker

It has become increasingly difficult to find a subject that people from all walks of life can agree on. However, when it comes to protecting our old friend, the New River, it is rare to find someone who has experienced the River that isn’t passionate about protecting it. We owe a great deal to one of the original River Heroes, Rufus Edmisten, that the New River Watershed exists today.

Continue reading to learn more about our April Stakeholder Spotlight, Rufus Edmisten!


The New River’s history speaks volumes to the importance of communities coming together as a whole, to protect the things and places we love. There are so many unsung River Heroes that joined forces to fight the dams, that it may be impossible to tell them all. However one story that stands out in particular is that of Rufus Edmisten.
Rufus L. Edmisten, born on July 12, 1941, grew up on a farm in the mountains of Watauga County, near Boone, North Carolina. After earning an Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rufus completed his law degree at George Washington University. While in law school Rufus joined Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr.’s staff on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights. Senator Ervin chaired the Senate Watergate Committee from 1973-1974 and Rufus was appointed Deputy Chief Counsel on that committee. It was in this capacity that Rufus served a subpoena to President Richard Nixon—which was the first ever served to a sitting President of the United States by a Congressional Committee.


Returning to North Carolina after Senator Ervin’s retirement in 1974, Rufus was elected North Carolina Attorney General and held that position for ten years. As attorney general, he engaged in several successful legislative and legal efforts including an effective campaign to save the beautiful New River from damming and development. As a local celebrity, we are honored to have Rufus serve as the Keynote Speaker for the 2019 New River Symposium, bringing the entire event full circle. Not only are we bringing the symposium back to the headwaters of the New River in Boone, NC, we will have the man himself, who arguably saved the New River, tell us his story.

So join us on April 11th at the 2019 New River Symposium!
Click HERE to register for the 2019 New River Symposium.

Thank you Rufus, for all that you do to protect the New!


Meet Our March Stakeholder Spotlight
New River State Park Superintendent Joe Shimel


It is hard to imagine a world where a partnership between the New River Conservancy and New River State Park does not exist. As March’s Stakeholder Spotlight Joe Shimel puts it, “The relationship is just natural”.
Keep reading to learn more about Joe's Story with the old New


The New River State Park and NRC both find their origins around 1962, as a result of the fight to prevent the construction of two dams on the New River that would have flooded 42,000 acres across Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Since then, NRC and New River State Park have worked closely together to protect the old New. Joe, originally from Wilson, North Carolina, spent most of his childhood summers at summer camps at the William B. Umstead State Park in Durham - arguably where his passion for protecting the environment began. Years later, Joe went on to pursue his passion, receiving a BS and eventually MA in Parks and Recreation Management from North Carolina State University, marking the beginning of his journey to the New. After graduating Joe worked as a Park Ranger at Falls Lake State Park in Durham in 2000, before heading to the coast of North Carolina as a Park Ranger at Carolina Beach State Park in 2003, and he eventually became Superintendent of Meadock Mountain State Park in Halifax County, in 2007.

Our story with Joe begins in 2009, when he came on as Superintendent of the New River State Park.

Since our partnership with Joe began, we’ve been able to add major parcels of land to the park’s property nearly every year. One of this partnerships shining moments occurred on December 17, 2018 with the purchase of Elk Shoals, an Ashe County icon. While NRC helped to raise the funds for the purchase, Joe and the New River State Park staff will continue to manage the property, as the addition of the property to the park ensures it is permanently protected.
Joe may not be a native to the New River community but he’s known all along how special the area is - Elk Shoals in particular. When Joe first came to New River State Park, the Elk Shoals Methodist Camp was still in full swing, and like the rest of the community Joe witnessed the camp begin to struggle financially. When approached about adding the property to the park - it was a no brainer for Joe. While "Saving Elk Shoals" was undoubtely a major achievement for NRC, New River State Park and the surrounding community, this achievement also reflects Joe’s determination to preserve the waters, woodlands, and wildlife of the New River Watershed.

Thank you Joe, for all that you do to protect the New!



Meet our February Stakeholder Spotlight
Harry Corepening


February's Stakeholder Spotlight is an old friend of New River Conservancy,
Harry Corpening. Harry played a crucial role in saving Elk Shoals, is actively working to fight a proposed asphalt plant, and particpates in NRC's New River Water Watchers Program. Keep reading to learn more about Harry's story with the New River Conservancy.


Elk Shoals United Methodist Camp, located on the bank of the south fork of the New River in Ashe County, holds a special place in the hearts of many. This is particularly true for Harry Corpening of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Harry spent his childhood summers at a summer cabin on the New River just three miles from Camp Elk Shoals. Harry's history with the New River goes back to when he was just six years old, but his story with Elk Shoals really starts when he was invited to join the Board of Trustees for Camp Elk Shoals about 15 years ago. At the time Harry had not visited the camp despite his family's cabin being only three miles down river. However, he quickly fell in love with it and came up with the camp’s nickname “God’s Country". Harry even went on to create the famous sign that was once at the entrance of the camp reading "Welcome to Camp Elk Shoals 'God's Country'". Historically, Camp Elk Shoals provided a place for faith-directed recreation. While it was traditionally a Methodist camp, Harry wanted to make sure everyone felt welcomed and increase the number of people using the Camp. Harry then helped change signage of the Camp from saying “Elk Shoals United Methodist Camp” to “Camp Elk Shoals – NATURAL FUN.” Later on, when the camp could no longer financially provide for all of its expenses, the Conference made the difficult decision to sell the Camp. Because of his knowledge of the history behind each of the Camp’s facilities, Harry was able to save the Conference money and time by informing them which of the existing facilities could be brought up to the existing codes. This “theme” of preserving only the most viable buildings and returning the land to its natural state has remained a top priority for not only Harry, but the New River Conservancy as well. Over the last several years Harry has also been actively working to prevent an asphalt plant in Glendale Springs from opening near the New River. This proposed plant would be located at an existing rock quarry which is only a couple of hundred yards away from the river. Harry also participates in New River Conservancy's New River Water Watchers program, monitoring a creek that flows through the quarry into the New River.
Thank you Harry, for all that you do to protect the New!


Click HERE to get involved with or learn more about our Water Quality Monitoring program.

Click HERE for a project summary of Elk Shoals and updates on our efforts to Rewild Elk Shoals.