Mountain Run is a stream that flows through downtown Culpeper. It begins in agricultural fields before it feeds two drinking water reservoirs, flows through several popular park spaces, under bridges and highways, through backyards, and into the Rappahannock River. In 2019, the Upper Rappahannock River Report Card awarded Mountain Run the score of D+. The lowest score of any watershed in the region. This is due to water quality impairments, lack of protected lands, and a variety of other issues.

To address this, Friends of the Rappahannock founded the Mountain Run Initiative to help improve conditions in the watershed. This program works with community members, local organizations, the Town of Culpeper and Culpeper County to address a range of environmental issues impacting Mountain Run. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is also leading an effort to complete two “total maximum daily load” (TMDL) projects that result in cleanup studies and plans to address high priority project implementation. 

The Mountain Run Initiative has supported six local river cleanup projects, removed 725 pounds of trash and debris, and included 77 volunteers! Working with trained citizen scientist volunteers, we have established multiple water quality monitoring sites on Mountain Run. We have planted over 2,000 trees in local parks and riparian zones along streams. We teamed up with the Town of Culpeper to install pet waste stations to reduce bacteria pollution, lead education programs with master naturalists, guided paddle trips on local waterways, offered community members free rain barrels, and gave away 1,000 free trees! We also have been able to help finance several stream protection projects on local farms with our 0% interest agricultural bmp revolving loan program!

By holding youth tree plantings, litter cleanups and wildlife walks along Mountain Run, we are able to inspire the future generation of river stewards. Whether it’s seeing a blue heron skimming the river at Lenn Park, having a scavenger hunt for trash or picking at river critters, our education programs with the local school and communities help us ensure our river is left safely in educated curious hands for years to come. 

We are excited to continue to build relationships in the community to help protect and restore the Mountain Run watershed in Culpeper County. This program would not be possible without the support of our funders at the the Virginia Environmental Endowment, PATH Foundation, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Northern Piedmont Community Foundation, Virginia Department of Forestry, Campbell Foundation, Arbor Day Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 

Written by Deputy Director Bryan Hofmann and Development Coordinator Lis Heras

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