Stream Valleys: Corridors of Life
Vol. 4 Issue 3, Fall 1999
By Joe Coleman
The sound of a rippling stream flowing over rocks, clean and fast, soothes and relaxes us, especially after a summer like the one that just ended.
A walk along one of these streams, with tall trees overhead and the sounds of singing birds around us, helps alleviate the stresses of our modern lives.
But when we walk beside one of these streams in our urban areas, or even in a suburban community, we are just as likely to find tons of trash and, in areas of building growth, silt and mud.
Intuitively, we know this isn’t right and that something must be done about it.
Fortunately, there is a growing recognition that healthy stream corridors are healthy for us. The Keep Loudoun Beautiful program has done a phenomenal job over the years cleaning up Loudoun’s streams. Several groups, including the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, the Audubon Naturalist Society, the Izaak Walton League and the Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, are all working to keep our streams healthy. The State of Virginia has created programs that not only encourage landowners not to remove vegetative buffers from stream valleys, but will actually pay people to plant trees and shrubs alongside streams.
Last year the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, like many others, began planting trees in stream valleys to create riparian buffers. Research shows that these buffers are one of the most important defenses for maintaining water quality. Riparian buffers filter nutrients and other pollutants, lower water temperature, improve aquatic habitat, stabilize stream banks, improve air quality and enhance recreation and wildlife. Healthy stream valleys are home to nesting birds, mammals, and fish.
This year, water has been on everyone’s minds more than ever before. But let us all remember that there’s more to water than what comes out of the tap, and pitch in to help care for our wild waters as well as conserving the tame stuff.