We continue to partner with US Fish and Wildlife to spray each year for purple loosestrife. This invasive species grows in a variety of wetland habitats including marshes, stream banks, ditches, wet meadows, and edges of water bodies. Loosestrife can invade both natural and disturbed wetlands, replacing native vegetation with nearly pure strands of loosestrife. As this plant establishes and spreads, it outcompetes and replaces native grasses, sedges, and other flowering plants that provide a higher quality of nutrition for wildlife.
In 2011 we were awarded various grants (a $5000.00 grant from Stream Partners and a $2000.00 grant from the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District) to control a thick stand of knotweed that grew on the Winchester Grade tributary.
Japanese knotweed can grow in a wide variety of habitats. It is found in open areas such as roadsides, streambanks, and woodland edges or even in partial shade. Japanese knotweed spreads quickly, forming dense thickets that exclude native vegetation. The plant poses a significant threat to riparian areas, where it can survive severe floods and is able to rapidly colonize scoured shores. Japanese knotweed does not stabilize stream banks as well as native vegetation and large infestations can affect water quality and fish habitat.
Before we began this project the knotweed grew to heights of over six feet and totally blocked the stream in some areas. While not totally eradicated, this past year there were only a few spots where knotweed grew, and those specimens that dated to show themselves were no more than two or three inches high.
In order to further control the knotweed, which does not flourish in the shade, it was our plan to establish a good riparian buffer along the banks of the tributary. However, once the knotweed was under control, damage done to the banks was fully revealed. A $7000.00 319 grant was obtained to do streambank restoration before planting a riparian buffer. It is anticipated that the restoration project will be completed by September of 2013. Funds from the 2011 Stream Partners grant were used to plant 20 chokeberry bushes on the shoulders of a newly installed culvert through which the Winchester Grade Tributary passes under the driveway leading up to Berkeley Baptist Church. The road was washed out by the September 1st flood; the bushes planted in a partnership between WSWA and Berkeley Baptist Church will help to control erosion of that area, and will not be disturbed by further work to stabilize the stream banks.
The remaining funds from the 2011 Stream Partners grant were used to purchase 200 trees and shrubs to be planted along the banks of the Run as it passes through property owned by the Eddie Stotler family.
In 2012 the WSWA was awarded a $20,000.00 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program (CBRAP) to create a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan. This document, (See ….) which was completed in June of 2012, outlines sources of impairment in the watershed, potential projects to address these issues, and the order in which various projects should be undertaken.
One of the first tasks recommended in the management plan is testing by a state regulated laboratory to establish a baseline from which to judge the efficacy of various projects in terms of reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. A 2013 Stream Partners grant of $5000.00 will pay for the testing of total nitrogen, total phosphorus, total suspended solids, fecal coliform, dissolved nitrate, dissolved orthophosphate and total suspended sediment. As part of this project, it will be necessary for the WSWA to establish a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP.)
Finally, the WSWA has been awarded a $2500 grant to capture the first inch of rainfall by installing hybrid rain barrels/rain gardens at 10 locations in the Town of Bath. We will also explore with participating businesses other ways in which they can be good stewards to the Run. Businesses which adopt various best management practices will receive a plaque recognizing their efforts.
In 2009, the WSWA received its first Stream Partners Grant. The funds were used to hire Kevin Wurster, a student at Shepherd University, to do the fieldwork required for a watershed assessment. We also purchased five out of the eleven books in the Urban Subwatershed Restoration Manual Series, published by the Center for Watershed Protection. These books have proved invaluable in planning various projects undertaken in recent years.
A $300.00 grant from Potomac Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development allowed us to buy equipment do test for fecal coliforms in the Run. Our testing indicated there is significant coliform contamination in areas south of the sewage treatment plant. We did not determine possible sources of contamination.
The 2010 Stream Partners grant of $5000.00 was used to plant a riparian buffer on in a floodplain area owned by Morgan County. We also created a roadside sign to be installed adjacent to the buffer informing passing motorists on US Route 522 of the importance of a riparian buffer in helping to control flooding.
A $2500 grant from Two Rivers Giving Circle allowed us to create brochures that were mailed to every address in the watershed. The brochure outlined impairment of the Run as well as efforts undertaken by the WSWA to address these issues. In addition to a membership form, the brochure had a list of actions residents can take to prevent further degradation of the Run.
We have worked with various other agencies such as the Division of Forestry and the Cemetery Board to plant trees throughout the watershed.