Benjamin Franklin Middle School’s MWEE Gets Face Lift

Benjamin Franklin Middle School’s MWEE “face lift” along Powder Mill Creek is credited to the Pathfinders for Greenways under the direction of Greenways Coordinator Liz Belcher and Mid-Week Crew Director, Bill Gordge.  Since August 2016 the Mid-Week Crew has been diligently working to install best management practices designed to reduce erosion and sediment build-up along Powder Mill Creek located next to Benjamin Franklin Middle School. The strategic design includes a switch back reinforced with crusher run and stone, board walk, wooden bridge access, and relocating certain sections of the newly incorporated circular path.  Additional necessities of this MWEE project include an outdoor classroom complete with instructor podium and observation tables along the section of creek where the approximately 600 6th graders eagerly test the water quality and enjoy the natural beauty of Powder Mill Creek.

To read more about the Benjamin Franklin Middle School’s MWEE Program click on this link:2016-bfms-creek-week-franklin-news-post-review-oct-7th

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Nonpoint Source Success Story: Blackwater River

blackwater-riverAgricultural Best management Practices Improve Aquatic Life in the Blackwater River

 

High sediment loadings led to violations of the general standard for aquatic life use in Franklin County’s Blackwater River.  As a result, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) added two segments of the Lower Blackwater River to the 2008 Clean Water Act (CWA) section 303(d) list of impaired waters. Landowners installed agricultural best management practices (BMPs); these decreased edge-of-field sediment loading and helped improve water quality.  Because of this improvement, DEQ removed two segments of the Blackwater River from Virginia’s 2014 list of impaired waters for biological impairment.  To read more click on this link 2014-delisted-blackwater

Nonpoint Source Success Story: Big Chestnut Creek

big-chestnut-creekInstalling Residential and Agricultural Best Management Practices Reduces Bacteria in Big Chestnut Creek

High bacteria loadings led to violations of Virginia’s Water Quality Standard (WQS) for designated recreation (swimming) use in Big Chestnut Creek.  As a result, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) added the creek to its 2004 Clean Water Act (CWA) section 303(d) list of impaired waters.  From 2007 through 2012, stakeholders installed various agricultural and residential practices in the Big Chestnut Creek watershed that decreased nonpoint source runoff.  As a result, Virginia DEQ removed Big Chestnut Creek from its 2014 list of impaired waters based on attainment of the bacteria WQS. To read more click on this link 2014-delisted-bigchestnut

USDA Service Center Welcomes Research Scientists from China

2016 Chinese Engineer Visit at USDA Service CenterOn Tuesday, August 9, 2016 the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District and Farm Service Agency welcomed three research scientists from China with their area guide Dr.Dave Johnson. The Institute of Hydroecology is under the Ministry of Water Resources (central government), but is also a graduate degree-granting institute of the Chinese Academy of Science. The Institute focuses on both basic and applied research related to ecological and environmental issues resulting from water construction projects with the aim of supporting a sustainable development strategy in China. Since its founding in 1987, the institute has assessed the environmental effects of large hydro-projects such as the Three Gorges Project and the South-to-North Water Diversion project and carried out research on fishery resources in Chinese reservoirs and restoration of the water environment in reservoirs and lakes. Address: 578 Xiongchu Avenue, Wuhan, Hubei, China

  • Photo from left to right: Dr. Dave Johnson (Retired Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science at Ferrum College), Ms. Xiaojie Pan, Associate Professor and Research Scientist, Applied Ecology Department, Institute of Hydroecology (IHE, MWR & CAS) and she is an environmental biologist with a focus on ecological effects, distribution characteristics, occurrence mechanism, and control measurese for harmful algae,Tony Goff (Farm Service Agency Program Technician), Michael Tabor (Conservation Technician for Blue Ridge SWCD), Mr. Chengyan Wan; Professor, Research Scientist and Director of the Applied Ecology Department, Institute of Hydroecology (IHE, MWR & CAS) and is also Deputy Chief Engineer at IHE,  and Mr. Zhiwei Zheng, Senior Engineer at IHE,  Assistant Professor and Research Scientist, Applied Ecology Department, Institute of Hydroecology (IHE, MWR & CAS).

Goals of visit:

Support and enhance an on-going project in the Three Gorges region, Ecological restoration of Xiaojiang River, which includes:

  1. Evolution of the water environment and ecological mechanisms of algal blooms;
  2.  Construction technology for ecological protection zones;
  3.  Technology for improving riparian habitat;
  4. Pilot demonstration and key technology for fish enhancement and release to prevent and control algal blooms (bio-manipulation);
  5. Key technology research and demonstration for ecological restoration of the Hanfeng Lake wetland.
  • American researchers have always paid attention to the study and application of algal bloom control and ecological restoration, and achieved good results.
  • The objective of this visit is to exchange experiences and achievements on pollution control, eutrophication and algal bloom treatment, riparian zone and river corridor restoration, wetland protection and restoration, monitoring and evaluation of aquatic ecosystems with experts in order to learn additional techniques to support the project and lay the foundation for future research collaborations.
  • To view abstract click on this link:  Journal of Hydroecology abstract-Chinese visitors August 2016

Abbott Farms Hosts Educational Field Day

2016 July Carol David Rain Barrel Winner

2016 Abbott Farms EDU Field Day-Kabobs 2016 Abbott Farms EDU Field Day-networkinOn Saturday, July 23, 2016 at Abbott Farms, the community was invited to learn more about the farm’s community garden with the help of Virginia Cooperative Extension agents, Virginia State University Small Farm Outreach and the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District.

Blue Ridge SWCD’s  Program Manager/Education Coordinator, Kathy Smith demonstrated how to convert a 53 gallon food grade container into a functional rain water harvesting barrel.  For those interested in participating in the Blue Ridge SWCD Rain Barrel Drawing, names were collected in a bucket and the winning name was drawn out.  The recipient of the constructed Rain Barrel was Mrs. Carol David from Glade Hill, VA.  Congratulations!!!

Garden tips, demonstrations on how to cook fresh produce and sampling the finished prepared products were a mouth watering treat.

“When you have to go out and plant plants and weed a garden and pick produce in 90 something degree weather you really appreciate what you get on your plate and how much work goes into it and I think that’s important for people to see,” Clinton Carty from Virginia State University said.

The community garden on Abbot Farms is open to the public. Volunteers pick produce every Monday and Thursday morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. with all of the produce going to local food banks.

To view the day’s events on Ytube of the Abbott Farms Educational Field Day visit:   http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Abbott-Farms-in-Rocky-Mount-hosts-educational-field-day-388035682.html

Best Management Practice Applications Now Being Accepted for 2016-2017

DSC02091.jpg             The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District located at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA is currently accepting applications for assistance with installation of agricultural best management practices that are designed to conserve soil and protect water quality.

July 1, 2016 began our new fiscal year and agriculture producers who are considering signing up for assistance this year are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.  Since funding is limited, all practices must be signed-up prior to implementation and are subject to prioritized ranking for approval. 2016-2017 Cost-Share applications will be accepted through close of business on Friday, September 2, 2016.  Many of the eligible conservation practices can be combined with other conservation programs offered by USDA. If cost-share is still available after this first sign-up round, a second sign-up round of cost-share may be offered at a later date.  The following is a list of some of the practices available for cost share, however, it is not an exhaustive list.

 

  • Reforestation of Erodible Crop Land & Pasture Land
  • Grazing Land Protection (stream exclusion, water fountains, well, pipeline and fencing)
  • Harvestable Cover Crop
  • Non-Harvestable Cover Crop
  • Continuous No-Till
  • Animal Waste Control Facility
  • Nutrient management Plan Writing
  • Split Application of Nitrogen on Corn using Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test
  • Late Winter Split Application of Nitrogen on Small Grains
  • Riparian Vegetative or Forested Buffers

 

For more information regarding water quality and erosion control best management practices, please contact P.W. Morgan (Senior Conservation Specialist) at (540) 483-5341 ext. 115 or Michael Tabor (Conservation Technician) at (540) 483-5341 ext. 122.

Rain Barrel & Tumbler-style Compost Workshops Schedule

Rain Barrel PictureRain Barrel Workshops Schedule:  August – November 2016

If you would like to harvest rain water for your garden and landscaping needs then this is an opportunity for you to construct your very own rain barrel.  This old idea is making a big splash!  Please have the proper transportation to take the barrel(s) home as they are approximately 53 gallons measuring 42 inches in height and 24 inches in diameter.

 

Ages Dates Day Time Place Fee
18 & up August 4 Thursday 5:30 pm-7:30 pm Essig Center $50
18 & up Sept. 1 Thursday 5:30 pm-7:30 pm Essig Center $50
18 & up Oct. 6 Thursday 5:30 pm-7:30 pm Essig Center $50
18 & up Nov. 3 Thursday 10:00 am- Noon Coopers Cove Community Center $50

Tumbler-style Compost Workshops Schedule:  August – November 2016

How does your garden grow?  Learn how to develop compost that can be used as a soil amendment or as amendment to grow plants by constructing your own tumbler-style composter.  Please bring your own power drill, drill bits (1/4”, ½” and a small drill bit to prepare hole for wood screw) and a Phillips head drill bit for wood screws.  Remember to have adequate transportation to haul your finished project home that will be 3.5’deep x 31”wide x 4.6’ height.

 

Ages Dates Day Time Place Fee
18 & up August 18 Thursday 5:30 pm-7:30 pm Essig Center $90
18 & up Sept. 15 Thursday 5:30 pm-7:30 pm Essig Center $90
18 & up Oct. 20 Thursday 5:30 pm-7:30 pm Essig Center $90
18 & up Nov. 17 Thursday 10:00 am- Noon Coopers Cove Community Center $90

Registration Deadlines: Register on line through Franklin County Parks & Recreation at www.PlayFranklinCounty.com one week prior to one of the worskhops of your choice listed above.
Instructor: Kathy Smith, (540) 483-5341 ext. 117

Hudson Awarded Clean Water Farm Award

2015 Clean Water Farm Award-Billy Hudson
Billy Hudson (center) and his wife Kathy are awarded the 2015 Clean Water Farm Award from Michael Tabor (right), Conservation Technician for the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District

Billy Hudson, a beef farmer from Redwood, was recently awarded the 2015 Clean Water Farm Award from the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District for his extensive efforts to improve soil health and water quality. Hudson successfully manages a beef operation, consisting of 60 head of cattle on 70 acres of pasture, 75 acres of hay land and 122 acres of cropland. To find out more, click on this power point link:  2015 Clean Water Farm Award-Hudson.  It may take a couple of minutes to download this link, however, it is worth the wait.