Leesburg Town Branch Habitat Restoration Project
The tree planting along Leesburg’s Town Branch stream on Saturday, June 6 was a great success.
Gem Bingol from Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) kicked off the event.
She provided an overview of the project, describing the stream and how the riparian buffer will help improve water quality and explaining how we would plant 204 native trees and shrubs and 144 native perennial wildflower plants.
She then turned it over to Jeff Wolinski, the consulting ecologist and wetlands expert, who helped plan and select the plant species we’d be planting. He selected a great diversity of plants for this project that will not only benefit a wide variety of wildlife but also provide a more natural look to the restoration.
After giving a quick overview of the plants, Jeff demonstrated how to plant the trees and talked about fertilizer as well as the interrelationship between a beneficial fungus that grows in the soil and the plant roots.
Thankfully, Jeff, along with LWC’s Craig Himelright and Rocky Fera and a few others, spent Friday preparing for the planting by auguring the holes for the trees, placing the trees for planting, bringing out the mulch, and doing other preparations.
This pre-work made the planting straightforward, as volunteers could focus on planting the trees and mulching around them, rather than digging the holes.
On Saturday the work went quickly with over 50 volunteers from PEC, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, and an energetic Boy Scout Troop 998 jumping right in.
Volunteers came prepared with work gloves for getting hands-on with the planting.
Shovels were provided to help break up soil and put it back around the trees as they were settled into their holes. With the rain that we had the previous few days, the ground was very wet and a number of holes had filled with water overnight, making this a rather muddy job.
Eight people worked until almost 4 PM doing the final wrap-up of putting deer protectors around the trees and watering the plants.
Neely Law, Chair of Leesburg’s Watershed Committee, also played a key role in the success of the project. She was instrumental in getting the required permissions as well as the Leesburg Town Council’s support for the project, including their agreement that the planting area would be a no-mow area so it can become a viable riparian buffer.