Protecting the Goose Creek Watershed

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.

“The 385-square-mile Goose Creek watershed in Fauquier and Loudoun counties has one of the largest blocks of privately conserved land in Virginia, with more than 92,689 acres — or 38 percent — of the watershed permanently protected,” says Tracy Lind, PEC field representative.

“The grant will help PEC and our partners target where BMPs can be installed on protected lands to accelerate restoration of polluted waterways.”

The current grant will build upon efforts from a 2017 grant also awarded to PEC by VEE. Last year’s initiative matched the Virginia Outdoors Foundation’s conservation easement database with information about land enrolled in BMP programs to uncover opportunities for implementing BMPs on conserved land. We reviewed 338 VOF easements in the watershed, identifying and mapping 168 properties that lack riparian buffer provisions or had not been enrolled in programs with local soil and water conservation districts.

The new grant will help us work with landowners to install BMPs that will have a big impact on water quality. It will also enable us to analyze the remaining 170 easements in the watershed that are not held by VOF. The analysis will complement ongoing efforts to improve water quality and further land conservation in the Goose Creek watershed.

The recently completed Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Plan for Upper Goose Creek calls for 169 more miles of exclusion fencing with riparian buffers as a critical practice needed to restore water quality. The John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District has expanded funding to assist more landowners with installing BMPs in the watershed.

“The focus of our Goose Creek initiative is to collaborate with landowners and conservation partners to accelerate the pace of both permanent land protection and the adoption of BMPs in the watershed,” says Tracy.

About Virginia Environmental Endowment

The mission of VEE is to improve the quality of the environment by using its capital, expertise and resources to encourage all sectors to work together to prevent pollution, conserve natural resources, and promote environmental literacy. To date, VEE has made over 1,400 grants totaling $34 million and leveraging matching funds to achieve more than $80 million in environmental improvement. The Endowment is based in Richmond and celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017.

This article was featured in our Winter 2018 member newsletter, The Piedmont View.