Students from Loudoun Valley High School learned how to be Stormwater Stewards through hands-on activities in the classroom and on the Chapman DeMaryTrail, thanks in part to a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They monitored the water quality of the South Fork Catoctin Creek that runs along the trail; researched water issues, recommended a plan of action on how to improve the buffer zones along the bank, and then created informational materials to educate hikers on the trail. Students came up with six recommendations to enhance the riparian buffer in the pollinator plot located on the trail. One of the lead students, Jennifer Betz, presented the recommendations to the Town of Purcellville and the land owner. They will be planting trees and shrubs to enhance the riparian buffer in the pollinator plot close to the creek. The plants must be native, appropriate for riparian buffer zones and able to provide food and shelter for pollinators and/or be a host plant.
Thanks to a grant funded in part by the Captain Planet Foundation, The Nature Generation, along with Boy Scout Troop 961 and the Virginia Native Plant Society removed invasive plants that were choking out native plants in the pollinator habitat at the Trail and replaced them with native plants to provide food and shelter for wildlife. This also enhanced the riparian buffer at a portion of the South Fork Catoctin Creek, part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Volunteers also planted 62 shrubs and flowers. In addition to making great progress in removing and deterring invasive plants, The Nature Generation established monthly Weed Warrior maintenance days at the Trail; an effort that will continue through the years. Go to www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0a49adae28abf49-beamonthly to sign up.
More than 70 people attended the annual water quality Catch and Count Creek Creatures event at the Trail on June 4. Residents, students, and scout troops from Purcellville, Hamilton, Round Hill, Hillsboro, and Arlington, all helped test the quality of the water in the South Fork Catoctin Creek. Attendees also planted trees in the outdoor classroom area, enhanced the riparian buffer in the pollinator plot with over 60 new native plants, and picked up 15 pounds of trash. They also had a chance to test their water knowledge with The Nature Generation’s water trivia game.
The stream was clear and the benthic macroinvertebrate sampling results show that the ecological condition of the South Fork Catoctin Creek is within the “acceptable” range. The discovery of small schools of darter fish was also an indicator of good stream health. The Audubon Naturalist Society used their Creek Critters app and based on different benthic macroinvertebrates and their sensitivities to pollution, the creek water quality was rated as “excellent.” This is an improvement over last year when the samplings of benthic macroiinvertebrates didn’t yield high enough quality results to clearly indicate stream health. For more information, go to NatGen.org.