The Loudoun Wildlife Stream Team recently established a new monitoring site on Piney Run, located within the newly created Sweet Run State Park (formerly the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship) in Neersville. The Piney Run site is located close to an existing site on Sweet Run, which is a tributary of Piney Run.
Certified monitors John Ellis, Chris Henke and Amy Ulland took advantage of the warm, sunny weather on April 21 to conduct back-to-back surveys at these two sites. Each site boasted an abundance of pollution-sensitive mayflies, as well as a wide diversity of other macros, and received a health score of 11 out of 12, indicating very acceptable ecological conditions.
Several interesting finds of the day included a 1.5 inch dragonfly larva and a 3 inch hellgrammite larva, as well as numerous casemaker caddisflies. The team also spotted darter fish, water striders and crayfish in the streams.
Loudoun Wildlife and Loudoun Watershed Watch just nominated these two sites to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as candidates for further study. If they are selected, DEQ will conduct benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, rapid habitat evaluations and measure dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and specific conductance at these sites in 2024.
Loudoun Wildlife is grateful to the Virginia State Parks for allowing us to continue and expand our monitoring in Sweet Run State Park, and we are happy to share our monitoring data with the Sweet Run State Park Manager, the Virginia State Parks Natural Resources Manager and the Between the Hills Conservancy.