This past spring, FOR was contacted with an opportunity to partner with Grymes Memorial School, a local school in Orange County. Grymes is located adjacent to Laurel Run, less than a mile from the Rapidan River, which is the largest tributary to the Rappahannock River.

The school had recently constructed a new classroom facility on their property and took the initiative to include a bioretention basin in the design. Unfortunately, the practice was being inundated by upstream erosion caused by large volumes of stormwater runoff from the roof of the new building and the surrounding lands. What to do?

In response to the erosion and sediment entering and clogging the bioretention basin, FOR staff contracted Gentle Gardener Green Design and Brent’s Native Plantings to design three grass swale Best Management Practices (BMPs) to “slow the flow” and catch sediments before entering the bioretention basin.

This project involved several days of site assessment and surveys, nearly two days of excavation, and a whole day of planting native grasses including switch grass, Panicum virgatum, and soft rush, Juncus effusus. Over two tons of river stone were delivered to the site and used at the pipe openings to help prevent scouring from taking place during high rainfall events.

The resulting project has been a success and continues to have a substantial impact on water quality, but the largest success of this project was the opportunity to integrate a group of students into the construction.

This was truly a team effort and could not have been accomplished without the help of FOR volunteers and an amazing group of students. Special thanks go out to Grymes Memorial School’s faculty/staff and students, Virginia Rockwell (VSLD, VCH, NMP) and FOR volunteers Ian Littlejohn and Ben Camber.

By Brent Hunsinger, FOR volunteer

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