On April 17, 2016, Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR), John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Piedmont Environmental Council hosted, From the Rappahonnock for the Rappahannock, a conservation event at Marriott Ranch. Before the event, I joined a group of FOR volunteers to plant trees and put up bird nesting boxes on Marriott Ranch’s property.
During the event, I learned about efforts to protect land and water resources in the headwaters of the Rappahannock River. There were experts on hand to explain the conservation work at Marriott Ranch and other properties near waterways.
Tree planting is an important part of mitigating storm runoff along with keeping cattle out of the rivers by providing alternate sources of drinking water. Tom Turner, Conservation Manager, John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District, provided visitors and volunteers an excellent overview of the use of waterers to provide clean, fresh water for livestock.
During the morning hours, I participated in putting up bird nesting boxes. I traveled around the property with Woodie L. Walker, FOR Community Conservationist, and Maggie Magliato and Jackie Bucher, two college students from University of Mary Washington. We evaluated the land for spots to install bird boxes. We hung up two large boxes on trees for American Kestrels and small nest boxes on fence posts aimed at housing Eastern Blue Birds. After nailing up the last small nest box, we spotted a pair of Eastern Blue Birds right nearby! We were excited that they might move into this box!
After we finished with the nest boxes, Woodie drove us over to Fiery Run where we planted trees with other volunteers. In total, 50 volunteers planted several hundred trees near the waterway to reduce soil erosion and absorb storm runoff. This will improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat and protect the watershed.
The following organizations host volunteer opportunities, training, hikes and more:
Friends of the Rappahannock 3219 Fall Hill Avenue Fredericksburg, VA http://www.riverfriends.org
Piedmont Environmental Council 45 Horner Street
John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District 98 Alexandria Pike, Suite 31