New River Symposium

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The New River Symposium is a multidisciplinary conference held biennially in the New River watershed (parts of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia).

Photo: Shumate Falls, Va., near the West Virginia state line.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 37
  • Using Water Quality as a Proxy to Estimate Microplastic Concentrations in the New River, VA, via Sentinel 2
    Rodriguez Sequeira, Luisana; Allen, George H.; Gray, Austin D. (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    Microplastics (<5mm), are pervasive in Earth’s environments, and rivers are a major transport pathway. Microplastic detection methods that rely on counting individual particles are time consuming and require laborious field collection, inhibiting real-time insights over large spatial extents, which are needed in order to better understand the issue. Satellite remote sensing has been used to estimate water quality in rivers with relatively high spatial and temporal coverage. Finding a correlation between water quality and microplastics could allow us to estimate microplastics in rivers via satellite imagery using water quality as a proxy. Though a handful of these assessments have been done, a wide-variety of study sites are needed to form a coherent model. We focused our study in the New River near Blacksburg, VA, and collected weekly water quality measurements and surface-water microplastic samples. We combined these in situ measurements with cotemporal remotely-sensed water quality index observations from Sentinel-2 to develop a model estimating microplastic concentration. We validated the model using in-situ spectrometry and water quality measurements. By providing more observations than what can be done with in situ sampling alone, we can improve large-scale microplastic analyses and modeling leading to better assessments of mismanaged plastic waste in Earth’s rivers.
  • Crayfishes of the New River watershed and Factors Affecting Their Distributions
    Mouser, Joshua; Loughman, Zachary; Frimpong, Emmanuel A. (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    Crayfishes are keystone species within aquatic ecosystems and many species require conservation efforts to support their continued persistence. Unfortunately, we lack basic data needed to make effective conservation decisions for many crayfishes, especially those that occur in the New River watershed (hereafter New River). Therefore, we investigated coarse-scale drivers of crayfish occurrence in the New River. We used generalized linear mixed effects models to predict occurrence of eight taxa based on instream and landscape-scale environmental data and biotic interactions. There are at least 10 species of crayfishes that occur in the New River. Faxonius cristavarius, F. virilis, Cambarus appalachiensis, and C. chasmodactylus are found in larger tributaries throughout the New River. The following species occupy smaller tributaries of the New River: F. spp. (either F. sanbornii or F. obscurus), C. aff. robustus, C. cf. bartonii, and C. smilax. We found that increasing anthropogenic disturbance led to declines in F. spp., C. cf. bartonii, and C. smilax but had a positive relationship with F. cristavarius. The presence of the potentially invasive species, F. cristivarius, was negatively associated with most species. Embeddedness, substrate, proportion riffle habitat, and lithology were additional variables that structured crayfish assemblages. Our results reveal that increasing human-mediated changes and invasive crayfishes threaten the persistence of native crayfishes in the New River.
  • Sediment Pollution in Sinking Creek from MVP activities
    Czuba, Jonathan A.; Pitt, Donna; Nelson, Amy; Malbon, Elizabeth S. (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    For over 10 days, sediment from a highly turbid spring, affected by activities for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), entered into Sinking Creek, a tributary of the New River. This presentation will describe what is known about the incident, to what extent the impact on Sinking Creek can be assessed with available information, and what is unknown that limits a full impact assessment. This presentation will mostly focus on quantifying the transport and fate of sediment delivered to Sinking Creek between January 27th and February 6th prior to sediment control efforts. This presentation will also highlight what is not known and what limits a full impact assessment.
  • Making Bank on the Banks: Finding Value in Appalachia’s Riparian Buffers
    Aloi, Joey (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    Like many other parts of the Appalachian region, the New River watershed is a land made to serve conflicting uses. The conflicts between these uses can be cultural flashpoints, as when environmentalists or downstream residents want more forested riparian buffers, but landowners don’t want to lose the cropland, the pastureland, or the money and time it takes to install fencing. These perceived conflicts evaporate on long-enough timescales – when the cropland gets inundated through a flash flood – and, more importantly, they can be dissolved through ideological reframing. The Appalachian Program of Future Generations University has developed a series of primers and videos which showcase a handful of crops grown in the riparian buffer area under a healthy forest canopy. These tools initiate a practical paradigm shift – any costs associated with maintaining its health have become investments in the farm, rather than external impositions from meddling environmentalists. They emphasize and integrate the economic, cultural, and environmental values associated with these crops, with an eye towards the contemporary emergence of these values in increasingly popular practices for farmers and products for consumers. To complete this project, we needed to build a transdisciplinary team – natural scientists, social scientists, humanists, and practicing forest farmers – and develop best practice sites where good management can be exhibited to landowners, technical service providers, and policy makers. This presentation summaries and showcases the primers and videos, and explains the unique manner in which community development and conservation come together in the work of the Appalachian Program.
  • Reducing litter in our waterways
    Pence, John M. (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    Author discusses data points regarding litter in America, particularly as they relate to our waterways. Various potential solutions are also presented.
  • Water and Lands Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (WALROS)
    Carroll, Joshua; Mohl, Isabelle; Taylor, Alexis (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    Water recreation along the New River and Claytor Lake continue to gain popularity, and Water Access remains one of the top priorities for the Virginia Outdoors Plan, backed by significant demand and use. One tool that has been used to help managers, planners, and communities better understand the resource they are charged with protecting is the Water and Lands Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (WALROS). WALROS is an inventory, planning, and mapping tool used to categorize natural resources and recreation settings, to help focus management action and limited resources. WALROS works on the premise that a recreation activity takes place in a particular setting, and this yields an experience and associated benefits. The goal of WALROS is to inventory and classify the physical, social, and managerial setting attributes in order to better understand the resource and to concentrate natural resource management, planning, and outreach efforts. During the past several years, WALROS data have been collected on various sections of Claytor Lake and the New River. This presentation will provide an overview of WALROS, how it can be used as a planning and management tool, results of data collected thus far, and aims to spark discussions for possible future uses on Claytor Lake and/or the New River. This will include discussion-based slides as well as color-coded digital maps that depict different setting attributes and classifications that highlight how these can change across seasons, use levels, and setting attributes themselves.
  • Realizing a dream: linking sustainable enterprise development with sound forest management – the case for Black Walnut Syrup
    Hammett, A. L. (Tom) (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    Virginia Tech and Future Generations University have been collaborating on projects in the region that foster sustainable nature-based enterprises. For several years, the focus has been on maple syrup, a product with a deep heritage in the New River Valley and surrounding areas. Recently, we have built on the experience with sugar maple, and have conducted research and outreach with another tree syrup – black walnut. Black walnut is plentiful and well suited to many sites in the region. The tapping process ensures that the tree is not harmed and will continue to provide ecological benefits. Well known in other regions for its timber quality, the species is not well known for producing tree syrup. But black walnut syrup is not well-known but is fetching higher prices than maple syrup and is popular among bakers, especially in the New York City area. The author won first prize for his black walnut syrup at the 2022 New River Valley Fair! Our outreach and research projects have focused on tree syrup and non-timber forest products. Many in the area request assistance to assess the potential for tree saps. Our team has developed demonstration sites and conducted outreach activities with landowners at several sites including Tazewell, Montgomery, and Giles Counties. Research is needed to gather input from landowners, evaluate the potential for sustainable economic development, and incorporate black walnut in forest management plans. We will discuss black walnut syrup’ potential to foster sustainable development, build community resilience, and ensure sustainable land management.
  • Borne by the River [Excerpt]
    Van Noy, Rick (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    Reading from the end of 'False Cape' in A Natural Sense of Wonder: Connecting Kids with Nature Through the Seasons. And 'Headwaters' and 'Falls' chapters from Borne by the River: Canoeing the Delaware from Headwaters to Home.
  • What’s New on the New - Parks in the Watershed
    Minton, Tracy; Sweeney, Sam; West, Eve (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    The purpose of this session is to provide an opportunity for the conference attendees to compare and contrast how the different land agencies are managing their land. The presenters from state and federal parks will discuss current and anticipated challenges and what that means for the long-term management of their lands. One outcome may be a discussion about each role within the New River Valley, and where any overlaps or gaps exist in managing and interpreting the New River. Each panelist will get about 12 minutes to cover their park history, types of users, facility planning processes, resource protection planning processes, future [5-year] expectations for the park, and activities [programming, planning, operational] that are unique to the park.
  • Scenic Virginia: Treasured Views
    Crump, Lynn (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    This session is intended to help provide an understanding of the value of scenery/viewsheds and to demonstrate how communities can identify their most treasured views. Visual landscape character is an essential component of the local sense of place and community belonging. Many of the community-generated descriptions of towns and rural areas along the New River often emphasize views and vistas as important aspects of their individual and shared experience of place. There are few programs or processes that gather, and record community-identified valued scenic views. Scenic Virginia's Treasured Views project is intended to develop local interest by supporting community-initiated efforts to identify, record, and celebrate the views community members feel most passionate about. The session will start with a brief history of visual/scenic resources in the US. Historically, visual impact assessments have been done on public lands or private properties in response to concerns about impact change by a proposed development. These assessments often do not address whether these views are locally valued or significant. Local planning processes require an authentic and robust community engagement process. Viewshed documentation before new development plans come forth can help community efforts to preserve their most treasured views, and potentially reduce or avoid long and expensive efforts to conserve highly valued views. This session will demonstrate Scenic Virginia's protocol for identifying and recognizing treasured views and will go through an evaluation exercise on how to apply the Scenic Virginia Viewshed Protocol for acceptance to a Viewshed Register.
  • New River Symposium 2024
    (New River Symposium, 2024-04-11)
    A program/schedule and abstracts for the New River Symposium held April 11-12, 2024, at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
  • Rare Plants Love Whitewater Too!
    Perles, Stephanie; Manning, Doug (New River Symposium, 2022-04-11)
    The riparian vegetation communities of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, Gauley River National Recreation Area, and Bluestone National Scenic River represent some of the most biodiverse and rare flora with within the parks. Globally rare plant communities and dozens of rare species occur along the rivers, particularly in areas which receive periodic scouring from flooding. Riverscour prairies, one of the park’s globally rare communities, support tall prairie grasses and heliophytic forbs on cobble bars along the Bluestone, New, Gauley, and Meadow Rivers. Scour during high water events maintains these cobble bars as open habitats. Without sufficient scour, woody plants can establish, shading the heliophytic forbs and grasses that characterize this rare community. Given increasing stressors from changing climate, invasive species, and altered flow regimes, understanding how riverscour prairies are changing is increasingly important to their protection. Over the past decade, the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program has monitored these dynamic prairies, revealing shifts in the abundance of native and invasive plants, as well as the encroachment of woody plants. As a result, park staff have treated invasive shrubs at targeted sites, as well as newly-detected invasive plants that were not previously known to occur in the parks. Of particular concern in these parks is the federally listed Virginia spiraea (Spiraea virginiana) that thrives in riverscour habitats. Gauley River National Recreation Area contains the world’s largest known population of Virginia spiraea; and it also occurs just upstream of the Bluestone National Scenic River. Over the next decade, the National Park Service plans to monitor, propagate, augment, and outplant Virginia spiraea in Bluestone National Scenic River and Gauley River National Recreation Area. The National Park Service will also work to improve habitat for extant Virginia spiraea through invasive plant removal and increasing light availability in riverscour habitats.
  • WV Stream Watch App: Easily Report Pollution Incidents in West Virginia’s Waters
    Dodson, Jenna (New River Symposium, 2022-04-11)
    Citizen scientists are increasingly using Smartphone apps as a way to broaden and streamline data collection. WV Stream Watch, an app recently developed by West Virginia Rivers and Trout Unlimited, is an effective tool anyone can use to document water pollution across the state. From anglers to kayakers to hikers, any concerned citizen can easily submit photos of water pollution incidents or habitat degradation to inform follow-up on enforcement actions or restoration needs. This presentation will review how to use the app, and present short case studies of how the app has been used to both inventory water quality and identify issues requiring enforcement actions by the WV Department of Environmental Protection. Learn how WV Stream Watch equips everyday people to be the eyes and ears of West Virginia’s rivers and streams.
  • Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) in New River Gorge National Park and Preserve: Trends, Concerns, and Management
    Kull, Katie (New River Symposium, 2022-04)
    The eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is a long-lived, shade-tolerant evergreen tree which grows throughout eastern North America, including within New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. Its dense foliage creates a dark, cool forest understory that supports a unique assemblage of plants, as well as facilitating exceptional stream habitat for fish species such as brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). However, eastern hemlocks face an ecological threat from several invasive pests, most notably the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA; Adelges tsugae). This tiny insect feeds on the sugars produced by the hemlock tree, causing physiological stress that can kill in the tree in as few as four years, particularly when combined with other stressors such as drought. First detected in the southern West Virginia national parks in 2000, HWA is now common throughout hemlock ecosystems in the New River Gorge. While some mortality has occurred, the National Park Service utilizes a variety of tools to maintain ecological value and scenic enjoyment of hemlock forests in the park, including chemical treatments, biological control agents, and forest health monitoring. This poster will detail the park’s hemlock program over the past 25 years, providing data on monitoring trends, exploring emerging threats, and outlining future plans.
  • Recreation Management Issues on Claytor Lake, Virginia
    Carroll, Joshua; Hinkle, Ethan (New River Symposium, 2022-04)
    Perceptions of the recreation experience on Claytor Lake.
  • No Stone Unturned: Studying Bluehead Chubs at Virginia Tech
    Bustamante, Thomas; Betts, Madison; Brooks, Samantha; Frimpong, Emmanuel A. (New River Symposium, 2022-04)
    The bluehead chub (Nocomis leptocephalus) is a common, medium-sized freshwater minnow found in streams across the southeastern United States. Each summer, mature male chubs construct mound nests out of thousands of pebbles using only their mouths, a behavior only thirteen known species are capable of. These mound nests attract other “nest associates,” of which there can be as many as a few hundred fishes representing up to a dozen species on any one nest at a time. Thus, bluehead chubs play an active role in the persistence of the aquatic ecosystems they inhabit. The Frimpong Lab at Virginia Tech seeks to understand the complex relationships between bluehead chubs and their environment. To do this, members of the lab investigate concepts such as symbiotic interactions, behavior, and adaptive responses of bluehead chubs. Further, the Frimpong Lab strongly advocates for the use of an arts-science connection to engage the local community and emphasize the importance of this fascinating species.
  • Longitudinal assessment of estrogenic activity along the New River
    Pena-Ortiz, Michelle; Tuberty, Shea (New River Symposium, 2022-04)
    The presence of endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) exhibiting estrogenic activity in aquatic environments has been recognized as a widespread, pervasive environmental issue since the mid-1990s. These estrogenic compounds have been shown to adversely impact fish species at exposure concentrations as low as 1.0 ng/L Estradiol Equivalents (EEQ) (0.00367 nM). The aim of this research was to screen for all three fish estrogen receptors using the TriFishER assay to assess risk of impacts of estrogenic EDCs along the entire New River (360 miles) and link estrogenic EDCs to land use by screening for binding activity to three estrogen receptor (ER) isoforms (acERα, acERβa, acERβb) using the TriFishER assay. Results show that at most sites the estrogenic EDC concentrations represented a high risk for all 3 ER isoforms, despite collection of samples during 90th percentile river flows from seasonal rainfall. The acERα and acERβa were positively correlated to urban land use in stream sites, and acERβa was negatively correlated to forested land use. Since 23% of sites that showed undetectable binding to acERα simultaneously showed binding to acERβa and/or acERβb, the present study demonstrated the importance of screening for all three ER isoforms, as opposed to the customary screening for acERα. Tuberty is Professor and Assistant Chair of Biology at ASU, teaches Ecotoxicology and Zoology courses, and leads research on impacts of EDCs, coal ash, and other toxins to fish and invertebrates. He serves on the New River Conservancy’s Technical Advisory Committee and hosted the 2019 New River Symposium at ASU.
  • New River Symposium 2011 Program
    (New River Symposium, 2011-05-19)
    A program overview for the New River Symposium held May 19-20, 2011, at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia.
  • The Old Appalachian Trail in the New River Valley, 1931-1955
    McNeely, Jim (New River Symposium, 2017-05-16)
    This presentation is an overview and summary of the results of my studies and field investigation of the former routes of the Appalachian Trail in southern Virginia. For the purposes of this presentation to the 2017 New River Symposium, my primary focus will be on Old AT routes in the New River Valley of southwestern Virginia during the period 1931 through 1955.
  • New River Symposium 2017 Program
    (New River Symposium, 2017-05-16)
    A program overview for the New River Symposium held May 16, 2017, at the Selu Conservancy in Radford, Virginia.