Friends of the Tug Fork River 

A nonprofit organization formed to preserve and protect the Tug Fork River and its watershed, raise awareness of its history, and develop recreation, tourism, and economic opportunities for our area.


Pete Runyon - Pike County, KY - President

John Burchett - Mingo County, WV - Vice President

Vicky Evans - Martin County, KY - Treasurer

Mark Kemp - McDowell County, WV - Secretary


Dustin Estep - McDowell County, WV Grace Williams - Mingo County, WV

David Hatfield - Mingo County, WV Jennifer Justice - McDowell County, WV

Madison Mooney - Martin County, KY Nina McCoy - Martin County, KY

Ex Officio Members of the Board of Directors:

Christy Bailey - National Coal Heritage Area Authority

Sara Prior - WV DEP, Southern Basin Coordinator

Nathan Alexander - KY Division of Water, Big Sandy Basin Coordinator

Support Our Cause & Snag Some Swag

Order up some custom Friends of the Tug Fork River gear from our local vendor: Visit Custom Print & Design's Friends of the Tug Fork River Site. A portion of each purchase comes back to us to help support our river!

Local pick up or shipping is available - More items coming soon

Click the Link below

King Coal Festival - Tug Fork River Duck Race Fundraiser

Hosted by Friends of the Tug Fork River

Thank you to all that participated!


More than 10,000 tires later we’re bringing it back to where it all began in 2019. On Thursday, September 21 we will be working to recover waste tires from the river between Williamson, WV and South Williamson, KY. Come out and join us as we sweep an area we have worked for four years and continue on downstream to behind the SWVCTC Campus. Our main staging area will be the South Williamson, KY boat ramp but other areas on the WV side will also be used. Check back for more information as the plan develops. We need you to Help Us Help Our River!

The weather forecast looks great but, as always, weather and river conditions might cause a postponement.

May's Waste Tire Dropoff Event Successful

May 13, 2023

Exactly 100 waste tires were dropped off by some awesome West Virginians Saturday. These tires will be properly disposed of by WV DEP REAP and are guaranteed not to end up in our river. We worked with Coalfield Development's ReUse Corridor to also collect clothing related items for donation to Goodwill. These items will be reused and wont end up in a landfill just yet.

An even 100 tires dropped off for proper disposal. These won't end up in our river.

Oodles of clothing related items donated for the ReUse Corridor to deliver to Goodwill.

Big Sandy Conservation and Recreation meeting

May 2, 2023

A contingent of FotTFR board members was hosted by a new group, Big Sandy Conservation and Recreation, at the historic lock and dam in the Big Sandy River between Fort Gay, WV and Louisa, KY. We then attended a Fort Gay City Council meeting and accepted an invitation to a private residence in Pritchard, WV for a cookout and boat tour of the river. The group hopes to promote the historic area around the dam and the entire river for tourism purposes. It is both an interesting and beautiful area to visit. Thank you Mayor Joetta Hatfield and Paul Heaberlin for all the incredible hospitality.

The Big Sandy River starts at the confluence of the Tug Fork and Levisa Fork then flows 29 miles to the Ohio River.This lock and dam is just downstream of the head of the river. Built in the late 1800's, it was the first needle dam in the United States and aided in river transportation of people and commerce until the railroads were constructed several years later.

FotTFR Board Members:

 John Burchett, Pete Runyon, Grace Williams & Vicky Evans

Soon after constuction was complete in the late 1800's

From the Kentucky side looking to West Virginia

The upstream end of the lock chamber showing the gate.

Our First Waste Tire Dropoff Event Of 2023 Was A Success!

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Friends of the Tug Fork River partners with WV DEP REAP, Mingo County Solid Waste Authority, City of Williamson, Veolia Water, and, new this year, Coalfield Devleopment's ReUse Corridor to collect waste tires to make sure they are disposed of properly and don't end up in our river. During our events this year, the ReUse Corridor will be collecting various items for donation to Goodwill or recycling. Keep an eye on our Facebook group for announcement of future events

Thanks to all that dropped off their old tires!

Coalfield Developement"s ReUse Corridor had some clothing dropped off for donation to Goodwill.

99 tires headed for proper disposal.

ORBA and NWF discuss the Tug Fork with our local people

March 25, 2023

The Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBA) and National Wildlife Federation (NWF) came to Williamson for an open discussion of local concerns and solutions for the Tug Fork River. ORBA hopes to bring federal government attention and funding to the Ohio River Watershed and was interested in hearing our local views and opinions on how that money should be spent. The Tug Fork flows to the Big Sandy River then into the Ohio River making our area part of the watershed ORBA is promoting.

Tell us your Tug Fork story

Friends of the Tug Fork River invites each and every one of you to this fantastic opportunity to let YOUR VOICE BE HEARD! This is a listening session regarding folks like ourselves who love and enjoy the Tug Fork River. Telling our stories regarding the Tug Fork, our concerns, and our future hopes for our natural waterway! If you want to be involved with this event please scan the QR code on the flyer to join this FREE event with food and refreshments on the house! More folks like us who enjoy our Tug Fork River deserve to voice any concerns, stories, or dreams they want to have for our River so please come one and come all! We hope to see you there!

FotTFR Board of Directors Dinner

February 25, 2023

We're one year old!

Our Board of Directors met for a meal before getting down to business at our quarterly meeting. Each member brings something special to the table to help us do good things for the Tug Fork River and its watershed.

Don't Miss Out On The 3rd Annual SWVFE

We're expecting almost all of our previous vendors and some new faces at this year's event. Come out and get great deals on all kinds of fishing and boating equipment!



Borderland Boat Ramp Project

The Mingo Messenger Newspaper mentioned Friends of the Tug Fork River in two articles and gave a thumbs up on their op-ed page today.

Thank you to the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority and Mingo County Commission for paving the way for further development of the Bloody Mingo Tug Fork River Flater Water Trail. We hope to eventually construct a concrete boat ramp on this site. Gaining control of the property is the first step of this multi year project.

FotTFR Board Members Attend State Flatwater Trail Meeting

West Virginia flatwater trail groups and supporting goverment agencies gathered at the Coal River Group Headquarters in Meadowood Park in Tornado, WV on Saturday, October 15th. Coal River Group and West Virginia's Flatwater Trail Commission hosted the informational event. Water Trail history and strategies were discussed by those in attendance. A tour of Coal River Water Trail access points and the new WV DNR Wildlife Education Center were conducted after lunch.

This was the 1st of what is hoped to become an annual event to be held at water trails across the state in the coming years.

Join us in March of 2023

Make plans now to come to the Historic Williamson Fieldhouse on Saturday, March 11, 2023 for the 3rd annual Southern West Virginia Fishing Expo! More Details to be announced.

Friends meet Friends

Monday, July 25, 2022 

It was an incredible privilege for Friends of the Tug Fork River to host Friends of the Cheat (River), from northern WV, in Williamson this morning.Thank you to the locals that joined us for breakfast at the Coal Cafe to discuss small town economics surrounding the Hatfield McCoy Trail System. FOC is visiting the area gathering information for a non-motorized multi-county trail system planned for northern WV.Special thanks to Wes Wilson for leading our trip to Death Rock above the city and sharing his wealth of information about the area.We couldn’t let our northern friends leave without something to forget us by. A jug of Pauley Hollow Distillery moonshine should do the trick! Pauley Hollow uses water from the original Randal McCoy well to distill the “fuel of the feud” just across the river in Forest Hills Kentucky.We hope to see our friends return soon!

Stream Monitoring Training

April 9, 2022 - Panther State Forest, McDowell County, WV:West Virginia DEP's Save Our Streams and Kentucky Division of Water's Big Sandy Watershed Watch joined forces for a historic first joint training seminar for Friends of the Tug Fork River volunteers.Our volunteers learned water sampling techniques, water chemistry, and macro-invertibate collection and identification.This is the first step in a very long process to improve water quality in our river.

2021 Tug Fork Tire Tug of War

Tire Tug of War Work Areas And Total Tire Recovery Numbers To Date - October 2021

2019 Tire Tug of War