ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - With so many people looking to enjoy nature during the COVID-19 shutdown, the James River Association (JRA) is working to make sure the Chesapeake Bay watershed stays clean. They are partnering with landowners to make it happen, by planting thousands of trees and bushes as part of the James River Buffer Program.
“Getting a mature forest doesn’t happen overnight. But we’ve noticed that as soon as people stop mowing right up to the edge of the water, pretty soon you start to already see some benefits coming, you may see wildlife start to return to those areas," Mary Klein, a landowner in Albemarle County participating in the buffer program, said.
Thousands of plastic tree shelters now wrap around sprouting plants on her land, Bundoran Farm. Eventually, the native trees will help stop erosion and protect the streams and wildlife.
“They provide tree canopy to help keep our streams cool that a lot of our little aquatic friends really appreciate and depend on,” Amber Ellis, of the James River Association, said. “They provide a variety of habitat for different birds and animals that use these riparian corridors for shelter habitat migration, and of course, people enjoy these spaces as well. With trees and water, they’re really great places for us to recreate and enjoy”.
In the spring of 2020, the JRA, along with the Virginia Department of Forestry is planting in 12 locations in central Virginia:
- (6) Albemarle Co.
- (2) Amherst Co.
- (2) Fluvanna Co.
- (1) Nelson Co.
- (1) Buckingham Co.
The JRA has completed 100 acres of planting toward its 242 buffer acreage goal. The work being done will help complete the commonwealth wide Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan, which calls for 26,000 acres of buffers by 2025.
A steward’s program run through the JRA is expected to start later in 2020. That would allow people who are interested in the project to help maintain the buffers through weeding and fixing the tree shelters when needed.