Archive for the ‘Stream Monitoring’ Category

Riparian Buffer Management – Control Invasives, Encourage Natives

August 23, 2017 by Bobby Whitescarver

As summer moves closer to autumn it seems there are more native plants in the various riparian buffers we have around the farm. Butterfly weed, jewelweed, wingstem, purpletop, and many other plants are in bloom now. However; there are many invasive, non-native plants in bloom as well.

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GCA Story Map Up and Running

Story Map

Click on the image to visit the Story Map

GREAT NEWS! GCA’s Story Map is up and running. GCA has a new water quality monitoring Story Map which has been produced by David Ward of Loudoun Watershed Watch. We are grateful for David’s expertise in updating our watershed monitoring map so that we can see where our sites are, see a photo of each site, and see up-to-date monitoring results for each site.  David, has also updated our monitoring data and is keeping track of GCA’s water quality scores. This is how we can analyse trends and show what influences could be affecting Goose Creek and its tributaries.  This a great way to keep watch over our beautiful GC and help keep the water clean!


Click on Image to Download Scoring Map

Download GCA’s Spring 2015 monitoring survey results map here. The scores are the scores from the monitoring done during the spring of 2015.

Beaver Dams: The Good, the Bad, The Reality

By Marcia Woolman For Middleburg Life       

In the past two months, two new beaver dams have sprouted up on local streams south and east of Middleburg in the areas monitored by the Goose Creek Association. Before you start jumping for joy or go to get your gun, better to have a frank conversation about beavers, pro and con.

There are two major issues: one a positive and the other a negative. Most would agree that wetlands are one of the most important ecological land uses we can preserve or create. So in nature, who do we turn to for help in this task of wetland protection and creation? The beaver, of course, which creates wetlands when it builds its dams or huts. It raises the level of the stream it plans to live on and the increased water area becomes home to fish, turtles, frogs, birds and ducks. Native Americans called the beaver “the sacred center” of the land because this species created a rich watery habitat for these other animals.

On the other side, what keeps erosion to a minimum and water within its flood plain, are riparian buffers, planted with native trees and grasses. The purpose of a buffer is to create dense root systems that soak up the rain water before it is able to flood, unabated, into the stream. When beavers arrive, their behavior is counter in most ways to this ideal of good steward of the waterway in that they cut down trees and shrubs to eat and for use building their new homes.

In many cases this is detrimental to the stream, but not always. Often a single tree cut will produce a large number of shoots or new limbs which become new tree trunks over time, thus doubling or tripling the amount of tree growth and leaf surface. Since leaves help reduce carbon from the air and that helps mitigate the effects of global warming, the beaver’s forestry management appears harmful in the short run, but might be beneficial in the long run. That’s why planting riparian buffers on your property might be the best way to be a good steward of your watershed. It will guarantee that both water quality and air quality will be enhanced.

It would be of great interest to the Goose Creek Association to assess how many beaver dams there are in the Goose Creek and its tributaries.(Small creeks that eventually flow into the Goose Creek.) The two new beaver dams mentioned above are new to our monitoring sites, but there surely are others in the watershed. If you know of one please consider calling the Goose Creek Office at 687-3073 and just leave a message of stream name, location between the two nearest roads up and down stream or a GPS reading.

The hope is that upon seeing a beaver dam, you will first enjoy the sight of such an amazing structural feat worked by nature’s original engineers. Then ponder on the good health this helps to bring to the creek and the corresponding danger of removing some very important trees from the riparian buffers.

(Marcia Woolman is a member of the Goose Creek Board.)

Family Stream Day in Ashburn a Success, See Photo Gallery

GCA participated in Family Stream Day in Ashburn, Virginia on Saturday, October 19. The wonderful, outdoor event was well attended by students and their families from Loudoun County.  This is an interactive, environmental education event that Loudoun Environmental Stewardship Alliance (LESA), Loudoun Watershed Watch and Loudoun Water co-sponsored.

GCA hosted a booth with an educational activity demonstrating how stream monitoring helps  determine water quality in our streams. Attendees gain an understanding of the importance of keeping our waterways healthy and why we should preserve and protect them.

Flicker photo gallery of Family Stream Day courtesy of David Ward from Loudoun Watershed Watch!


Grants Received from Chesapeake Bay License Plate Fund

Both our MWEE and Water Quality programs have received grants this year totalling almost $5,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Restoration License Plate Fund.  This fund was generated through the sale of Chesapeake Bay license plates. The grants will be used to help develop the MWEE program which is dedicated to giving students in the Goose Creek watershed a meaningful watershed experience and to further enhance our watershed programs.

Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund

A crab on your license plate does more than let other drivers know you appreciate the Chesapeake Bay. Money from the sale of Friend of the Chesapeake license plates is used to fund projects that restore the bay or teach people about it.

bayfund_bayplateThe impact of this cartoon crab is felt well beyond the coastline of the bay. Funds are available to governments and nonprofit organizations throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which makes up about 60 percent of Virginia’s land base. From 1995 through 1999, more than $3 million was granted to more than 300 community groups for restoration and environmental education from the Shenandoah Valley to the shores of the bay itself.

The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund recommended funding for 62 projects in 2001 for a total of nearly $440,850. The funds support projects ranging from $250 for “Conservation Days” for seventh-graders at Pocahontas Middle School in Goochland to $22,000 for public outreach campaigns to raise awareness on preventing toxic substances from entering Virginia’s most polluted bay tributary, the Elizabeth River.

Funded projects were chosen from applications from private not-for-profit conservation organizations, schools and universities and government agencies whose projects affect water bodies located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The bay’s watershed includes all lands draining into the bay.

With a little help from DCR’s staff, the Division of Legislative Services manages this eco-friendly fund. More information on the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, including grant applications and guidelines, can be found here, or by contacting:

Division of Legislative Services
General Assembly Building
910 Capitol Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 786-3591

Stream Monitoring News

Jeff Millington, a GCA Board Member since 2011, has recently become a certified stream monitor. Jeff will be monitoring his Goose Creek site checking for stream water quality using the VA SOS method two times a year.

Jewel of the Piedmont

Since approximately 2002, the Goose Creek Association has established a stream monitoring program that is providing evidence that upper Goose Creek and some of its tributaries indeed fit the description, “Jewel of the Piedmont.” However, some tributaries, and much of the lower Goose Creek, as it runs through Loudoun County are challenging this assumption. What makes the difference? The answer is simple: land use differences.

The purpose of the stream monitoring, both macroinvertebrate (insects in the stream) and the e-coli testing (fecal coliform from feces), is to assess the stream’s health. This program also hopes to establish a base line of information so that any future contamination can be quickly identified and have scientific evidence to show any degradation. Since both Fairfax and parts of Leesburg obtain their drinking water from this creek, it becomes a very precious resource for more than its scenic beauty and ability to provide water for many uses over its entire 350 square mile watershed.

View Goose Creek Water Monitoring Project in a larger map

During our most recent monitoring, the low water levels were an additional concern. Our continuing drought has reduced some of the stream’s tributaries to a mere trickle. The Goose Creek Association even had to cancel its annual June canoe trip due to water levels. There is not much that we can do about water levels, but we surely can focus on water conservation.

This can start with basics at both ends of the conservation spectrum. First be aware of impervious surfaces on your property and in your community. Every time a parking lot or street is paved, or another roof erected on a house, building, barn or shed the ground underneath is no long a sponge for returning water to the aquifer. The water running off these impervious surfaces merely runs off into ditches, gains speed as it rampages into tributaries, and with excessive force and volume, erodes banks and destroys the fragile riparian buffers along the stream edge all the way to the Potomac.

At the other end of the water use spectrum is consumption. Water could well be the replacement for oil as the most precious commodity of the 21st century. Now is the time to teach serious conservation of water use. From the basics of teaching our children and grandchildren to turn off the water while brushing their teeth, to planting native grasses and shrubs that do not require watering, or better yet letting most of your property just grow up with lawn only around the immediate house area. Woodlands absorb the water and return it to the aquifer much more efficiently than anything else. Open space, best management practices on our farm land, and proportionate areas of woodland make for a healthy watershed. Development, removal of trees, paving, etc. causes watershed dysfunction

Of course, we all realize that development and paving are necessary, but modern science is showing ways to collect water and control run off. Some of this is occurring in more progressive projects, but the everyday use of water by all of us is still in the dark ages. Most people think of water as a never ending, replenishable resource. After all, “Matter can neither be created nor destroyed.” Right? Wrong! Clean water can become dirty water, fouled by human use or human wastefulness as it cascades as muddy silted liquid into the Chesapeake Bay. It’s on our watch. Teach and practice water conservation now, so that we can continue to enjoy all our “outdoor” activities, like fishing and swimming in clean streams, riding along pristine waterways that have no odor nor broken down, eroding banks, hiking over land that is still natural. It all comes back to good stewardship of our most precious resource; water.

Board Member Marcia Woolman is a freelance writer from The Plains, VA. She serves on the Boards of three conservation organizations. If you would like more information on watershed issues, please contact us at 540.687.3073 or


Grants to GCA for Water Quality Testing

We are thrilled to announce that GCA has recently been awarded a grant from the Chesapeake Bay License Plate Fund and a grant from Dolphin Quest that will help us to continue our work to protect our beautiful, pristine resource, Goose Creek. We will be scheduling stream monitor training sessions to train interested citizens how to monitor macroinvertebrates at designated creek sites. If you would like to be a stream monitor or an assistant to our stream monitors, please contact our office at or 540-687-3073. A training schedule will be posted on our website at in March.

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