June 18th happens to be National Go Fishing Day, and we’re certainly here for the celebration! Our Conservation Partners team loves fishing, especially with our families. Fly and bait; freshwater, saltwater, and everything in between!
We want to be able to keep fishing for years and years to come, so we work hard to help stream restoration efforts.
What’s the matter with our streams?
Well, cold water holds more dissolved oxygen than warm water, so keeping the streams at their current temperatures is critical for fish survival. Warm water also increases the concentration of algal blooms, which further decreases the amount of oxygen for fish to breathe. Algal blooms are also the result of pollutants: nitrogen and phosphorous. Sediment pollution in streams can fill up the deep fish holding pools that many species require for survival.
What do we do about it?
At Scott Hollow Farm, CP’s President Taylor Cole and his wife Lois have been instrumental in stream and wetland restoration efforts on their homestead, which is protected by a conservation easement. When Taylor purchased the farm in 1998, the river and the wetlands were in bad shape. In fact, the wetland areas were void of any life. The Cole’s immediately ceased the over-application of poultry litter and removed the cattle from the streams, both of which were contributing to excess nitrogen and phosphorous pollution. They created vegetated buffers ranging from 100 to 300 feet along the river and its tributaries, which included the planting of hardwoods on 34 acres. In the year 2000, SHF native rocks were used to stabilize 2,000 feet of the heavily eroded stream bank. In 2005, the Cole’s placed their farm into its first conservation easement with Virginia Outdoors Foundation. Following the purchase of an additional 191 neighboring acres to expand the farm, they installed duck boxes and nesting grasses for duck habitats. In 2018, Scott Hollow Farm began working with The Nature Conservancy to restore and expand approximately 50 acres of wetlands on both sides of the Calfpasture River, which runs through the farm.
Scott Hollow Farm is a fantastic example of the difference conservation efforts can make on stream health. The Calfpasture River is no longer listed as an impaired stream (with an exception of a 2 mile stretch further downstream) as a result of the conservation easements placed on Scott Hollow Farm and on neighboring farms along the river. In fact, a family member of Conservation Partners’ staff brought her rod along on to our company picnic and caught a little trout within the first 30 seconds of casting her line (pictured right)! The fish and their friends are happy to have a clean stream and prolific wetlands to live in. In fact, SHF has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation with the 2019 Clean Water Farm Award.
What can you do about it?
There are plenty of ways you can help ensure that we’ll have good fishing for years to come! A conservation easement can be a great way to make an impact, as can other good stewardship practices on your land. Some Best Management Practices (BMPs) include fencing cattle out of streams and reducing the amount of fertilizer runoff from your property. Even if you don’t live near a stream, the nitrogen in the runoff from your front yard still makes it into our waterways. Picking up trash and disposing of it properly, whether in the city or out in the wilderness, helps keep our water clean. Just spending time out by the water (without leaving garbage behind) helps remind you why it is so important to preserve the beauty of a creekside habitat and restore our waters for future generation to enjoy!