We are very fortunate to have nearly a mile of land alongside the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Our riparian buffer totals 52 acres and is the site of much research and beauty.
Our overall goal is to restore the previous fescue-dominated grazing field to native warm season grasses and wildflowers in order to benefit wildlife.
The field is divided into seven management areas, each of which is undergoing different treatments. In cooperation with the Virginia Department of Forestry, we burned one section in January 2012 and an adjacent area in March 2012 to compare the results. This past March, we burned an additional section and reseeded with a mixture of native warm season grasses and forbs as part of a grant through the Smithsonian Institute.
The riparian area is one of the study sites utilized by the Smithsonian Institute’s Virginia Working Landscapes program in which surveys are taken of birds, pollinators and plants.
Most recently, we have formed a partnership with the Virginia Tech Conservation Management Institute (VTCMI) to study native warm season grasses. The VTCMI is utilizing the warm season grass habitat restoration site as a comparison to a nearby warm season grasses biofuel planting at the Merck, Sharpe, and Dohme Stonewall Plant in Elkton. Virginia Tech students and VTCMI staff will monitor both sites to compare avian abundance and diversity between the two types of plantings.
This past spring, we were grateful to host Page County high school students who installed native wildflowers along our new river path which meanders through the sycamores and boxelder. The path has become a feature of the riparian area, continually providing new opportunities to observe wildlife, admire the river and enjoy the variety of plants.