Managing flowing aquatic resources in the Piedmont is particularly important, due to our location in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Improvements to aquatic resources at the local level will enhance regional water quality. It is our duty as members of the greater ecological community to think of what our actions on the local level will do to wildlife downstream.
Where does our water flow and what effect do we have on downstream communities? Can we do better? There are ways to improve your aquatic resources on the local level while remaining sensitive to water quality issues at the regional level.
- To manage a section of stream or river for fishing, landowners should stock their waters with trout from a reputable hatchery.
- A list of warm-water, undesirable fish species include: crappie, bullhead catfish, yellow perch, pumpkinseed sunfish, green sunfish, and Israeli carp. These fish tend to overpopulate and become stunted in growth, or have other adverse effects on the freshwater ecosystem.
- Before stocking fish on private property, either in a moving body of water or body of water that is otherwise connected to the watershed (such as a pond with an outflow that reaches a stream) landowners must fill out an application and gain approval from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. This will prevent creating an imbalance in the aquatic ecosystem and will limit the possibility of spreading diseases downstream and throughout the watershed.
Restoring Riparian Buffers
To manage for healthy terrestrial and aquatic habitat and control erosion, allow a wide riparian buffer to grow around your pond, lake, stream, or river. Riparian buffers provide habitat and food for animals using the water, shade the edges with cover for aquatic organisms (macro-invertebrates, amphibians, fish, turtles, etc.) and wetland nesting birds, and help filter sediment and other pollutants from the aquatic system by using the vegetation to absorb and filter nutrients before they hit the water supply.
Mowing to the edge of the water source is not recommended, as it eliminates the positive ecological function that vegetative cover provides to the aquatic system. Additionally, exposing the banks by mowing leaves nesting wildlife vulnerable to predation and allows erosion and pollution of the water to occur.