Throughout 2020, Friends of the Rappahannock held several events focused on Mountain Run, which is part of our larger goals of our Mountain Run Initiative. Mountain Run is a large tributary to the Rappahannock River and runs right through downtown Culpeper. Like most streams in the area, Mountain Run receives lots of runoff from roads, parking lots, and buildings every time it rains. The Mountain Run Initiative includes events such as tree plantings, river clean ups, interpretive trips, and education programs.

Educational Events

We held several education programs and interpretive trips in Culpeper throughout the year. Our interpretive trips included paddles on Lake Pelham and Mountain Run Lake which were focused on the natural history and ecology of the area. We also participated in a family-friendly macroinvertebrate education program in partnership Culpeper County Parks and Recreation and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at Lenn Park.

Debris collected at a Mountain Run clean up

River Clean Ups

This summer, we held river cleanups at Rockwater Park with the Town of Culpeper and at Lenn Park with Culpeper County Parks and Recreation. River Cleanups are a great way for local volunteers and community groups to help keep their waterways and public spaces clean and safe for recreation and drinking water. At Lenn Park we were joined by volunteers from Old Rag Master Naturalists to mulch dozens of trees and clean up trash from the park. At Rockwater Park, 31 community volunteers removed over 15 bags of trash, 7 car tires, and other debris from Mountain Run.

Tree Giveaways and Plantings

In October, we held a tree giveaway in Culpeper with Culpeper County Parks and Recreation, Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission, and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative with funding from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Arbor Day Foundation. We gave away 500 free trees to residents of Culpeper County. These native trees will held sequester carbon to improve air quality, regulate temperatures in urban environments, increase property values in Culpeper neighborhoods, and improve habitat and water quality.

Tree planting project. Photo by Piedmont Environmental Council

We recently planted 800 native trees and shrubs along Mountain Run at Old House Vineyards in Culpeper with the help of 35 volunteers. This planting was part of our Headwater Stream Initiative in partnership with Piedmont Environmental Council. “Establishing riparian buffers is an effective, natural method for mitigating the transport of excess nutrients into our waterways. Planting trees to establish riparian buffers within the Chesapeake Bay watershed improves not only the biological integrity of the local ecosystem, but that of the Bay itself,” said Annie Ligush, Bay Watershed Specialist for Virginia Department of Forestry.

In 2021, we will continue to hold events with partners in the Culpeper community as part of the Mountain Run Initiative. Keep an eye out for education programs about citizen science, more river clean ups, and more tree planting events!

“In every instance, FOR’s staff and volunteers have showcased their dedication and passion for Rappahannock River advocacy, restoration, and education.  It is with confidence that as we move into 2021, the Culpeper County Parks & Recreation Department is enthusiastic because we know that from environmental education programs to park improvements, we have more than an ally and partnership – we have “friends” in FOR.” – Andrew Hardy, Director of Culpeper County Parks and Recreation

-October Greenfield, Upper Rappahannock River Steward

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