Registration is now open for this summer's North Fork Conservation Corps at Seven Bends State…
2022: Year in Review
As we look back at the year, 2022 stands out as a year where this and last year’s critical investments in programming continue to bring growth in the scope and reach of our programs to keep the North Fork clean, healthy, and beautiful. The support of our growing member base, through annual memberships, sponsorships, and special gifts, allows us to continue to solidify and build upon these programs in advocacy, community action, education, and science.
Friends strives to keep our watershed community informed and involved in decisions that have potential repercussions for the health and flow of the North Fork. This year, we worked alongside community members in Rockingham County to block a multi-use travel center and truck wash from going in on the banks of Smith Creek. We also made sure that our Shenandoah County neighbors were informed about plans to rezone a parcel just outside of Strasburg Town limits, which, if passed, would request municipal water use, thereby increasing demand on North Fork surface waters. FNFSR also sits on Shenandoah County’s Water Resource Advisory Committee, is participating in the county’s Master Plan for the North Fork, to be included with the Comp Plan for 2045, and is participating in the environmental focus group for Rockingham County’s Comprehensive Plan. This year, Shenandoah County has made important advances in their floodplain and stream buffer ordinances to protect the health of the North Fork.
It takes a whole community to support the health of a river! In 2022, we have had the privilege of working alongside dedicated community members of all ages to clean up harmful refuse in and on the North Fork, and to help reduce sediment and nutrient loading by planting and maintaining forested buffers along the North Fork and its tributaries.
Riparian Buffer Planting- April 2, 2022
In partnership with the Virginia Department of Forestry, FNFSR volunteers planted 2 acres of native trees along the North Fork in Toms Brook. This buffer will grow to provide myriad water quality benefits for the North Fork including reducing the amounts of sediment, organic matter, nutrients, pesticides, and other pollutants in surface runoff, as well as provide habitat for aquatic organisms, and shade to lower water temperatures and increase dissolved oxygen.
Earth Day Trash Cleanups- April 22-24, 2022
In partnership with the Potomac Riverkeeper Trash-Free Shenandoah Campaign, Zach Grandle of the Plains Mill in Timberville, the Warren County Anti-Litter Council, Warren County Izaak Walton League, FNFSR and volunteers conducted at all public access points for the North Fork and two unofficial access points: Riverton, Cattlets Ford, Deer Rapids, Chapmans Landing, Memes Bottom, the Broadway Foundry, and the Godfather’s Pizza access in Timberville.
Riparian Buffer Support Program- Spring and Fall 2022
In order for young riparian buffers to flourish, they need regular maintenance for their first three years. While there are resources available to help cover the cost of planting riparian buffers, the burden of maintenance falls solely on landowners. FNFSR’s Riparian Buffer Support Team eases this burden by inspecting tree tubes, removing competing weeds from within, righting downed stakes/tubes, and flagging for replanting, if necessary. This year, our volunteers provided maintenance for three parcels and over 30 acres of riparian buffers (that’s over 9000 trees!!).
North Fork Conservation Corps- July 2022
The North Fork Conservation Corps offers project-based, mentor-led experiences to teens, ages 13-17, at Seven Bends State Park. This year, we held two week-long sessions, enrolling 15 teens. You can see the great work they accomplished on both entrances to the park: the split rail fence between the picnic pads and field on the Hollingsworth side, and the fence around the historic Lupton Barn.
Fall Tire Cleanup- October 22, 2022
In partnership with the Shenandoah Riverkeeper, FNFSR coordinated volunteers from Virginia Eagle Distributing Company to remove 140 tires from the banks of the North Fork near Helsley Bridge in Woodstock.
Integral to our mission to protect the health of the North Fork is educating community members of all ages about the watershed, the complex, dynamic nature of the water cycle, and what we can do to keep our water clean, healthy, and beautiful for generations to come.
Summer Camps- June 2022
We had 45 campers this summer and introduced them to the wonders of the watershed through experiments, field trips, community service, and river time. Campers expanded their comfort zones, practiced teamwork, and learned how to help keep the river healthy while enjoying it.
SCPS Summer School- June 2022
Education staff supported the Shenandoah County Public Schools Summer School Program during their field trip to Seven Bends State Park with a water cycle game and guided river time for 360 students.
Shenandoah Stream Team- 2022/2023 School Year
This year we created and began piloting a new education program in Shenandoah County Public Schools. Stream Team is a series of in-class programs focused on the watershed that culminate in a stewardship project and end of year showcase. We engaged 9 teachers and 21 classes to reach 475 students!
Massanutten Regional Governor’s School Programming- Fall 2022
In a new partnership this year, Friends certified the 37 juniors at MRGS as benthic macroinvertebrate monitors and set up two new monitoring sites that MRGS will maintain in the future. The students also helped maintain a local riparian buffer system by removing competing weeds from tree tubes to allow the saplings to thrive.
Lecture Series and Workshops- Spring and Fall 2022
Between the spring and the fall, we held five lectures on topics relating to the watershed and water quality, and held three workshops designed to conserve water and reduce waste. Our lectures had 135 registrants and over 500 views on our YouTube channel. Click here to view our recorded lectures.
Any approach to environmental sustainability is better when it’s based on data! Our science programs are designed to involve community members in collecting data about the health of the North Fork and its tributaries and share this data with our watershed community and conservation partners.
Virginia Save Our Streams Water Quality Monitoring- Spring and Fall 2022
Benthic Macroinvertebrate monitoring grew at Friends this year! Our spring trainings certified 30 new monitors in the watershed, and our fall training with the Massanutten Regional Governor’s School certified 37 more! This year, we collected data from 16 sites– 7 sites on the North Fork and 6 tributaries in the watershed, including Toms Brook, Pughs Run, Passage Creek, Cedar Creek, Hollow Run, and Swover Creek.
Winter Salt Watch with the Izaak Walton League
From February to April 2022, FNFSR hosted a student from the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation gathering baseline salinity data from four sites in the North Fork watershed and creating a public survey on winter salt use. This winter, FNFSR is building on that data by distributing Salt Watch kits to volunteer monitors who will take chloride readings throughout the winter to see how much road salt is ending up in our waterways.
We had a great time this year organizing and participating in events for the community to come together to experience, celebrate, and support the river. We celebrated Father’s Day in Strasburg by hosting floats for families and providing river-oriented information and activities in the Conservation Pavilion. Our “Ripples and Reflections” art show at Muse Vineyards in August featured 40 river-inspired works of art by 20 artists from the Valley and beyond. We rounded out the summer with our “Voices of the Shenandoah” event at Swover Creek brewery featuring river-related storytelling and music from the band “Katie and Kelly.” The fall brought our most successful annual fundraiser to date, now rebranded as “A Night for the North Fork,” raising over $60,000 to support the North Fork!
Friends of Seven Bends State Park
We are so proud of the work of our dedicated Friends of Seven Bends committee members and volunteers, who coordinated bi-monthly work days and open meetings at the park throughout the year. This great team helped work on the Natural Playspace on the Hollingsworth entrance, lay down ADA-accessible walkways, remove invasive species, and plant trees at the park.
Seven Bends Walker’s Club
This year, volunteers with FBSP kicked off the Seven Bends Walker’s Club on July 23, 2022 with walks on Monday and Friday mornings. So far, the Walker’s Club has hosted 144 individual walkers logging a total of 390.6 miles and raised enough money to build 5 benches at the park, on which park visitors can take a rest and relax.
Beats on the Bend– October 2022
For the first time, FSBSP hosted a music event at the park– Beats on the Bend. Despite a weather-related postponement, this event drew 93 participants in October and featured the musical duo Katie and Kelly, ice cream by C&C’s Frozen Treats and the park’s new merchandise trailer!