Governor Kaine recognized the efforts of Fauquier landowners Dennis and Tracey Liberson today by attending the public unveiling of their stream restoration project along Bolling Branch.
The Libersons worked to restore more than a mile of Bolling Branch and 2,300 additional feet of tributary streams that flow through their property in an effort to improve water quality for people and wildlife in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Bolling Branch feeds into Goose Creek, a state scenic river, and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay via the Potomac River.
Also attending the unveiling was The Nature Conservancy, which guided the restoration and will monitor the project over the next 10 years. Williamsburg Environmental Group, Inc. designed the restoration, and construction was performed by Environmental Quality Resources.
"I am extremely thankful to the Libersons for their care of this property," Gov. Kaine said. "As my administration continues our quest to conserve 400,000 acres of open space in Virginia, I commend the Libersons for setting an example and a high standard for all of us."
"The health of the Chesapeake Bayis tied to its tributaries," said Michael Lipford, director of The Nature Conservancy in Virginia. "We all can take steps to help the Chesapeake Bay, and the Libersons are showing how regular folks can make a difference."
"Bolling Branch is home to 28 species of fish, including smallmouth bass and the endangered Appalachia darter," added Lipford. "Virginians will still be able to appreciate a place like this for generations to come."
Bolling Branch is seven miles long and feeds into Goose Creek. Goose Creek has a 350-square-mile watershed, flowing through Fauquier and Loudoun counties. It is a source of drinking water for Fairfax and parts of Leesburg.
The Libersons originally purchased their property in 2006. Soon after, they began to consider conservation options for their land and waters, and in December 2007 they placed the entire 119-acre property under a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy.Forty-two acres were restored as part of the stream and associated buffer project.
The Libersons are not the only ones who have placed property under a conservation easement in the area. Within a five-mile radius of the Liberson’s land are more than 19,000 acres of protected lands, through 82 Fauquier County Open Space and Virginia Outdoor Fund easements.
Funds for the restoration came from the Libersons themselves, along with the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. But Karen Johnson, a biologist from The Nature Conservancy who helped manage the restoration, said there are many options for landowners who want to improve the health of their lands and waters.
"There are a number of conservation programs that are cost-share, reimbursement, or provide full funding that landowners can participate in to improve stream and wetland habitats," said Johnson. "Conservation organizations and local soil and water conservation districts can be a great source of information on what's available."
"But one of the easiest and most important things landowners can do is get livestock out of the streams," she added. "Simply removing livestock and allowing a riparian buffer to regenerate will be a huge step towards improving water quality and stabilizing stream systems."
Dennis Liberson said he is looking forward to witnessing the rebirth of the stream and wetlands he and his wife created. He also looks forward to a time when all residents in the area can experience a healthy Chesapeake Bay first-hand.
"We are proud of what has been accomplished here," he said. "It is our hope this encourages others to take similar actions and look forward to what collectively we can do to help the health of the Chesapeake Bay."
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.