In 2015, the Alexandria Chapter in Virginia received a $25,000 grant from the IWLA Endowment for a very ambitious watershed conservation project.
The chapter worked in cooperation with Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality and employed the services of an environmental law firm to develop an Environmental Management Program that served to identify and define the goals and objectives of this project. The project had three major goals that were clearly defined in the chapter’s grant application to the Endowment.
1) Rehabilitate land that had been impacted by erosion from stormwater runoff from the chapter’s property and from the chapter’s neighbor, the Marine Corps Base at Quantico. The chapter owns more than 200 acres, almost all of which is impacted by runoff from the surrounding area. The chapter’s objective was to prevent further silt build-up in its two ponds and prevent future erosion. Of particular concern was runoff into the Aquia Creek watershed, which drains into the Potomac River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.
Silt build-up in chapter ponds was of concern because the ponds are stocked for fishing and the chapter annually opens the ponds for a kids fishing day. Scouts also fish in the ponds and members and their families regularly enjoy the fishing and the picnic areas around the ponds.
2) Establish a program to continuously monitor chapter activities to ensure there would be no adverse effect on the area’s watershed. This involved stabilizing the hill and slope above the ponds, which were used as a parking lot, by means of an engineered retaining wall with drainage and drain tiles. Of necessity, this project required county inspection and approval which (as you’ll know if you’ve ever dealt with municipal government regulation) entailed a good bit of time and effort.
3) Partner with a local high school biology department to provide education and awareness by involving the students in taking water and soil samples, following their biology course curriculum. The chapter also hosted seven Boy Scout troops for camping events, and the Scouts helped with trail maintenance and improving a small stream crossing, which was part of the soil erosion project.
With the improved facilities, the chapter held an outdoor skills day for the general public, including displays on water conservation, to develop conservation awareness among members, visitors, and the community.
Exclusive of the volunteer hours, the chapter developed a detailed budget showing a total of $46,000 needed to accomplish the project. The actual costs turned out to be slightly over $51,000, which means that the Endowment funds were matched more than 50 percent by the Alexandria Chapter. There were about 2,200 volunteer hours put into the project. The chapter will continue to test and monitor water quality and use this as an educational project.
As with any project of this magnitude, it needs people to step forward and take responsibility for getting the job done. In this case, the work and dedication by chapter members Ed McBride, Bethany Harvey, and Scott Miller provided the leadership and drive to make it happen.
The Alexandria Chapter’s watershed conservation project is an excellent example of the Endowment’s support for programs that are supportive of the philosophies and objectives of the League.
For more information about Endowment grants, including grant application forms, go
to http://iwla-endowment.org. Applications can be submitted electronically.