Eight generations of cattle farming had taken its toll on the streams at Dean and Carina Elgin’s Mountain Hollow Farm in northern Fauquier County. Historically, “all the cattle had access to the creek. That was our watering system. And that was the norm in that day,” Dean Elgin said. But by 2015, the Elgins wanted to repair the streambank erosion and reduce the water pollution caused by the foot traffic and waste generated by 200 cattle moving in and out of the water repeatedly. But there was a problem.
PEC was recently awarded a $15,600 grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment to further our work identifying and prioritizing opportunities to implement agricultural best management practices (BMPs) and strengthen efforts on land protected by conservation easements in the Goose Creek watershed.
What’s good for wildlife is often good for water quality,” said Celia Vuocolo, PEC’s wildlife habitat and stewardship specialist, as she spoke to guests at the fifth Annual Thumb Run Open House.
This sentiment was reinforced at the event, held on November 13 at the Orlean Fire Hall, by speakers Amy Johnson of Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Virginia Working Landscapes Program, Janet Davis of Hill House Farm and Nursery and Dr. Tania Cubitt of Performance Horse Nutrition LLC, whose presentations focused on grassland bird conservation, landscaping for wildlife and healthy horse pastures, respectively. While the presentation topics varied, the underlying theme was the same — land stewardship supports clean water.
PEC’s Sustainable Habitat Program Manager, James Barnes, often works with landowners in the Piedmont on a one-on-one basis—helping them find ways (and funding) to improve their properties to restore wildlife habitat and water quality. This conservation work is important, and Barnes has worked with many excited landowners. He’s realized, however, that to make a lasting difference in habitat resoration in the Piedmont, landowners will need to start looking past their property lines.