Volunteers plant trees along the Occoquan Reservoir

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Newly planted trees on county-owned land near the bridge across Occoquan Reservoir are just saplings, but over time they will grow and create a small ecosystem.

“After probably the second year, you’ll start seeing birds on the young trees,” said Tim Hughes, environmental specialist with the environmental services division of Prince William County Public Works. “Then the natural vegetation and grasses start to grow. Once the forest has grown, after about five years, it feels natural.

Volunteers from Pathfinder Troop 1719, Lake Ridge, and the NOVA Chapter of the Climate Reality Project, under the direction of master gardeners from the Virginia Cooperative Extension-Prince William, or VCE, recently planted 110 native tree saplings at the 6320 Davis Ford Road. Red Buds, Sycamore, Flowering Dogwood, River Birch, Holm Oak, Swamp White Oak, Red Maple, Paw Leg, Hornbeam, Black Gum, Service Berry and Tulip Poplar are now housed in space.

The volunteers planted the trees in a Resource Protection Area, or RPA. RPAs contain perennial watercourses or water bodies essential to the watershed. Prince William County is required to protect RPAs under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.

Restoring APRs through reforestation helps keep water clean in Prince William County and beyond. “It helps in so many ways,” Hughes said. “We are restoring a resource protection area and protecting water quality. In this case, the Occoquan reservoir is a source of drinking water for several million people locally. It reduces stormwater runoff and protects the creeks, banks and waterways that feed the Potomac River, which empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Anything we can do to reforest and restore RPA contributes to all that is good. »

In addition to planting the saplings, the volunteers planted 150 tree cuttings called live stakes along the water’s edge. “They take root over time and hold the banks together,” VCE Education Outreach Instructor Nancy Berlin said of the real-world issues.

Reforestation projects provide financial and environmental benefits to the county. “It saves the county money because we are no longer paying to manage or mow grass areas. We are converting it into a forest with native trees. Of course, this also contributes to air quality and carbon sequestration.

The project is part of Prince William County’s overall plan to plant more trees. “We usually do three or four resource protection areas a year, so it’s part of a larger plan to increase the tree canopy in the county,” Berlin said.

The Girl Scouts gained a lot from their participation in the project. “Not only do the girls get a few hours for their community work, but they also get a patch for making the Girl Scout Tree Pledge,” Troop Leader Amy Jordan said of the national Girl Scout effort to plant five million trees across the country by 2026. “It’s also important to get them out. It was an easy and family project. We were doing something fun on a nice Saturday and we did a good deed,” Jordan said.

The environmentally conscious members of the NOVA Chapter of the Climate Reality Project saw a chance to do something tangible for the environment. “We have a deep understanding of climate change, so this was a great project to do something to positively address climate change,” said Natalie Pien, group leader of the Climate Reality project. “I was happy to do something good rather than just ringing the alarm bells. It was a great family activity. It was a great day.

Live trees and stakes cost the county public works department about $2,000. Volunteer work was free. In total, it took less than two hours for 30 workers to complete the project after two years of efforts to eradicate non-native wisteria from the site.

Contractors will soon plant another 550 native trees on the 1.6 acre site adjacent to the third of an acre the volunteers recently planted.

– Submitted by the Prince William County Government

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