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Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed

People, Land and Water at the
Headwaters of the
Rappahannock River Basin


Table of Contents

1 Executive Summary

2 Introduction

2.1 Purposes of this work

2.2 Overview of Rappahannock County’s People, Land, and Water

2.3 Watershed Protection versus Watershed Restoration. 12

3 What factors can we use to assess the health and protection of our watersheds?

3.1 Shenandoah National Park (SNP)

3.2 Conservation Easements12

3.3 Land Cover

3.4 Forested Stream Buffers

3.5 Zoning

3.6 Erodible Soils on Non-forested Land

4 What and Where are the County’s Subwatersheds?. 14

5 How well protected are our watersheds?. 15

5.1 Comparisons with an “ideal”

5.2 Comparisons with poorly protected areas elsewhere. 15

5.3 How did we quantify the protection level of subwatersheds in the model?. 15

5.4 Comparing the subwatersheds’ protection levels. 16

5.5 Using the subwatershed protection map. 16

6 Values, concerns, and knowledge of those who own or use the land. 17

6.1 Mailed questionnaire surveys. 17

6.2 Consultations with individual landowners. 19

6.3 Participation in Public Hearings

6.4 Subwatershed Landowner Groups. 21

7 Public Policy: Local Government Protections for Watersheds. 21

7.1 Comprehensive Land Use Plan, especially Chapter 6: Goals, Principles and Policies

7.2 Zoning and subdivision ordinances. 23

7.3 Stream Buffer Protection Overlay (SPO) District of the Zoning Ordinance

7.4 Erosion & Sediment Control Ordinance. 24

7.5 Biosolids Ordinance

7.6 Stormwater Management Ordinance. 25

7.7 Land use taxation

7.8 Agricultural and Forestal Districts. 26

7.9 Farmland Preservation Program.. 26

7.10 Septic System Cost Sharing Program.. 26

8 Taking a Closer Look at Watershed Health and Protection. 27

8.1 Future development

8.2 Climate change

8.3 Private roads and driveways

8.4 Road/stream crossings

8.5 Stability of Streambeds

8.6 Residential and commercial landscaping and land management practices

8.7 Agricultural land management practices

8.8 Forest management

8.9 Sewage treatment plants

8.10 Septic systems

9 Indicators of water quality and quantity. 33

9.1 Impaired stream segments: what they mean and do not mean

9.2 DEQ Ambient Monitoring Stations Data. 34

9.3 Citizen Macroinvertebrate Monitoring Stations. 35

9.4 Coldwater Streams and Brook Trout Protection Area. 35

9.5 Special water quality studies

9.6 Precipitation and Surface Water Flow Measurements. 36

9.7 Ground Water Measurements

9.8 Quantity and Quality of Well Water37

10 Least-protected subwatersheds: The Lower Rush. 39

10.1 Rush River and Tributary Streams. 39

10.2 Lower Rush Easements

10.3 Lower Rush Topography and Soils

10.4 Streams, ponds, wetlands and floodplains in the Lower Rush subwatershed

10.5 Water Quality – Rush River

10.6 How is the land used in the Lower Rush Subwatershed?. 47

11 Least-protected subwatersheds: White Walnut Run. 49

12 Least-protected subwatersheds: Upper Battle Run. 50

13 Questions for Further Inquiry. 50

13.1 Water Quality Questions

13.2 Precipitation and Stream Flow Questions. 50

13.3 Groundwater Questions

13.4 Biological Indicator Questions

13.5 Environmental Services Questions. 51

13.6 Incentives for Agricultural Landowners to Protect the Streams. 51

13.7 Sustainable Forestry Question 51

14 Goals and Tools for Protecting Vulnerable Watersheds. 52

14.1 Goal 1: Increase monitoring of water quality and water quantity, and make this information accessible to the community

14.2 Goal 2: Increase the percentage of 100-foot riparian buffer zone that is managed to provide protection for streams, from the present 62 % to 80%

14.3 Goal 3: Increase the percentage of privately held land in easement from the present 20% to 40%



List of Maps

1    Elevation Contours – Rappahannock County

2    Percent of land in Shenandoah National Park

3    Percent of land in Virginia Outdoors Foundation Easement

4    National Land Cover Data

5    Percent of Land in Forest Cover

6    Stream Buffer Vegetation

7    Percent of Stream Buffer Area that is Forested

8    County Zoning

9    Percent of Land in Conservation or Agricultural Zones

10 Highly Erodible Soils on Non-forested Land

11 Percent of Land in Highly Erodible Soil on Nonforested Land

12 Subwatersheds Boundaries

13 Subwatershed Protection Assessment

14 Example Private Roads

15 Example Road/Stream Crossings

16 Surface Water, Impaired Stream Segments, and Monitoring Stations

16A Trout Protection Area

17 Rush River Subwatersheds

18 Lower Rush Subwatershed Surface Water

19 Lower Rush Subwatershed Topography

20 Lower Rush Subwatershed Highly Erodible Soils on Nonforested Land

21 Lower Rush Subwatershed Easements

22 Rush River RappFLOW Monitoring for E. coli Bacteria

23 Rush River RappFLOW Monitoring for Dissolved Oxygen

24 Lower Rush Aerial Photo

25 Lower Rush Stream Buffer Vegetation

26 Lower Rush Ag/Forestal Districts

27 Lower Rush Zoning

28 White Walnut Run Subwatershed Aerial Photo

29 White Walnut Run Topography

30 White Walnut Run Subwatershed Forest Cover and Stream Buffer Vegetation

31 White Walnut Run Subwatershed Surface Water

32 White Walnut Run Subwatershed Easements

33 White Walnut Run Subwatershed Ag/Forestal Districts

34 White Walnut Run Subwatershed Highly Erodible Soils on Nonforested Land

35 White Walnut Run Subwatershed Zoning

36 Upper Battle Run Subwatershed Aerial Photo

37 Upper Battle Run Topography

38 Upper Battle Run Subwatershed Forest Cover and Stream Buffer Vegetation

39 Upper Battle Run Subwatershed Surface Water

40 Upper Battle Run Subwatershed Easements

41 Upper Battle Run Subwatershed Ag/Forestal Districts

42 Upper Battle Run Subwatershed Highly Erodible Soils on Nonforested Land

43 Upper Battle Run Subwatershed Zoning

Next: Executive Summary