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WVU Jackson’s Mill partners with BHE GT&S to add river access ramps for safer outdoor recreation

Two young boys smiling while paddling a canoe in the river.

West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill has offered outdoor recreation opportunities to youth for years, but their access to the river that runs along the campus has been limited. However, through a recent partnership, they were able to add two new river access ramps, increasing these opportunities significantly.

Jackson’s Mill partnered with BHE GT&S, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company, to bring this vision to life. The two ramps are made to create a better experience for kayaking and small boats for 4-H campers and visitors alike.

“We have been doing canoeing and kayaking activities at the Mill for several years, but never really had good access to the river, so we primarily used the ponds on the property,” said Dave Snively, director of WVU Jackson’s Mill.

The programs team at the Mill had the idea to improve the paddling experience by creating easy access points to the river. After suggesting the idea, BHE GT&S immediately agreed to help.

“With many of our employees working and living in Lewis County, this area is a special place for our team,” Phyllis Hinterer, BHE GT&S director of area operations said. “We were happy to partner with the Mill’s programs team in support of these outdoor recreation improvements that created safe water access for all ages to explore nature. This was also a great way for us to support the training opportunities offered at the nearby State Fire Academy in spirit with our commitment to safety.”

This gift aligns with both the needs of WVU Jackson’s Mill and the philanthropic goals of BHE GT&S. Outdoor recreation is one of the three pillars of education at Jackson’s Mill, and this project helps to expand the outdoor youth campus to better achieve that goal.

The ramps are placed along the riverbank so a person can put their boat in at one ramp and float downstream to the next ramp to exit.

“We wanted to be able to put in and take out without leaving the Mill property and still provide as long a float as possible,” said Snively. “The locations selected also provided good access to the river with as little earth moving as possible.”

But one ramp also has a unique feature—it provides access to the water for firefighters to further their education.

“WVU Extension’s State Fire Academy staff asked if it would be possible to drive a fire truck down the ramp so they could teach firefighters how to draft out of the river and install a dry hydrant,” said Snively. “We asked BHE GT&S if it was possible, and they made it happen.”

BHE GT&S also donated an ATV and money to plant trees at WVU Jackson’s Mill. Overall, the company’s contribution totals around $50,000 for this project.

“We are grateful for the partnership with BHE GT&S and everyone involved in making this project possible,” said Snively. “The ramps will allow WVU Jackson’s Mill to continue to develop and enhance our outdoor and environmental education programs for youth and adult audiences.”

For more information on WVU Jackson’s Mill and upcoming events, visit

The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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CONTACT: Sydney Keener

Communications Specialist

WVU Extension