MONTGOMERY — Along a creek that has been brought back to life in recent years, visitors to Morris Drive Saturday were treated to a wide-ranging program which stressed the importance of continued preservation and growth.

To celebrate the birthday of noted American bird scientist and painter John James Audubon, who was born in April 1785, the Morris Creek Watershed Association teamed up with the Three Rivers Avian Center and others Saturday to present live raptors and other events for the general public at the watershed headquarters at 328 Morris Drive.

In addition to a show presented by executive director Wendy Perrone and educational director Ron Perrone of the Three Rivers Avian Center that featured six raptors, activities included a bird-watching walk along the creek guided by Dr. Deb Beutler of WVU Tech Beckley, an interactive butterfly tent presented by Heather Tokas (Butterflies from Heather), of Wellsburg, and the display and sale of work by local artisans.

In the afternoon, Beutler guided participants on a carpool drive to explore local raptor habitats, during which they observed an American bald eagle circling above the London Locks, according to Beach Vickers, the watershed resource specialist for the MCWA.

Among the other activities during the weekend was the planting of 1,000 lavender seedlings on a reclaimed mining area. It is hoped that project will eventually generate a revenue stream to assist the watershed group in its ongoing mission, said Mike King, the stream restoration chair of the Morris Creek Watershed Association.

King said the association has made great progress over the years in making Morris Creek more habitable.

"We've made a tremendous difference," King said as he and his grandson, Michael, were among those preparing for another batch of lavender seedlings to be planted Saturday afternoon. "When we first started, nothing lived in the creek. And now we've got three species of trout.

"And we've dealt with acid mine drainage in four strategic locations, which has greatly helped the stream. But it's an ongoing job. It doesn't go away; you have to keep after it."

Information about the Morris Creek Watershed Association can be found on its Facebook page. Donations to the non-profit can be mailed to MCWA at PO Box 927, Montgomery, WV 25136. For inquiries or to volunteer, email the association at mcwa@suddenlinkmail.com or call 304-442-4581.

Email: skeenan@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

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