Free Union Students and parent volunteers planted more than 80 native trees and shrubs to restore habitats and strengthen the riparian forest buffer along the two streams that flow by our beloved nature trail.
What is a riparian forest buffer, you ask? It is an area adjacent to a stream, lake, or wetland that contains a combination of trees, shrubs, and/or other perennial plants that bolster the landscape's ability to, among other things, filter nutrients, pesticides, and animal waste from land runoff; stabilize eroding banks; filter sediment from runoff; provide shade, shelter, and food for fish and other aquatic organisms; provide wildlife habitat and corridors for terrestrial organisms; and protect downstream communities from flood damage. The species planted on Friday were all native to the Piedmont Region of Virginia, including River Birch, Hackberry, Spicebush, Hazelnut, and Sycamore.
The ongoing removal of non-native invasive plants, replacement with local native species of plants, and research about the animal species that use our land have been central parts of the curriculum of our "Naturalists" classes originated and taught by Grace Carbeck. This tree planting effort was a collaboration with the Rivanna Conservation Alliance (led by Lisa Wittenborn, Executive Director and mom to an FUCS fourth grader) and the Piedmont Environmental Council.