The Goose Creek Association kicked off its 2013 riparian buffer project called The Goose Creek Challenge, chaired by Marcia Woolman, using a joint project with Tom Turner of the John Marshall Soil and Water District (JMS&WD), to plant 433 trees on March 15 and 16. The success of this watershed conservation effort was in large part attributed to local schools that sent ecology club and science class students from Highland Upper School with teacher Jon Kraut and Middleburg Academy with teacher Ann Reimer. The Piedmont Environmental Council’s Andy Washburn assisted in locating our young helpers. All together forty two students participated on Friday, along with members of the Virginia Dept. of Forestry and other staff from JMS&W. Several volunteers from the community and the Goose Creek Board also rolled up their sleeves.
The Saturday volunteers consisted of students who were brought to the farm by parents who worked with them in teams along with many who also participated on Friday. Over the two days more than 100 people of which nearly all were volunteers, provided approximately 285 hours of community service. The students were provided with certificates verifying this from the Goose Creek Association.
The goals of the Goose Creek Challenge are wide ranging, and begin with restoration and preservation of the stream banks and wetlands within the Goose Creek watershed. Our primary concern is the health of our watershed, but as you know “we all live downstream.” The Chesapeake Bay and Leesburg and Fairfax are all downstream. The work we do for water quality here in Fauquier and Loudoun counties pays dividends to millions we don’t even know.
That is just the beginning, as educational goals are equally important. To provide a meaningful educational experience for the students that re-enforces the science lessons they are learning is the key to life time learning. To have parents bring their students on a weekend and share in that learning fulfills yet another goal of community environmental education.
No meeting or lecture can bring forth the understanding that comes from hearing Tom Turner explain the value of trees to the protection of water quality while he holds a young tree and you lean on a shovel or tree tube and listen. Then he continues by discussing the value to wildlife and the types of animals and birds that will benefit from the seeds and produce of these trees and bushes. Only native plants were used in an effort to help restore the food base for the song birds and migratory birds that use our countryside as their homes. It will support the squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, mice, foxes and deer as well.
The valuable shade that will be created and the root structure that will hold the ground firmly while absorbing huge amounts of water will, as they grow, take up more of our heavy rains and prevent them from spilling sediment and pollution from fields into the waterways. They will eventually prevent nutrient overloads that are creating the dead zone in the Bay.
So much value from this project, leads the Goose Creek Association to believe that our job has just begun. Land owners who need riparian buffers should seek information on the web site www.goosecreek.org. Schools that want this opportunity for their students should seek this connection, and parents wanting to spend some quality time with their children and feel the joy of community service, should come too. It takes a village, and we are one.
(Video of the event provided by The Downstream Project.)