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.
The overall goal of farm owner Scott C. Plein 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. Different sections have undergone a burn in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. 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. We are now on a three year burning schedule for specific plots.
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.
We are grateful to Page County high school students, the Raw Learning group, Oakbrook Church Stewards of Creation, the JMU Migrant Studies program participants and other volunteers who have installed native shrubs and wildflowers along the river path. 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. It also provides a great opportunity for students to study various aspects of ecology and institutes of higher education to pursue research data.