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Panhandle stream to get a $400,000 rehab

May 14, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Things are looking up for Rockymarsh Run - as well as the Chesapeake Bay - following the release of $400,000 for a restoration project for the local stream.

Rockymarsh Run is a picturesque stream that winds through farmland along the border of Jefferson and Berkeley counties.

It can be seen along W.Va. 45 just west of Shepherdstown, including where the highway intersects with Winebrenner Road.

Over the years, vegetation and trees along the stream that act as a natural filter against nitrogen and phosphorous runoff into the stream have been removed, according to Joe Hankins, vice president of the Conservation Fund and director of the Shepherdstown-based Freshwater Institute.

Nitrogen and phosphorous come from sources like septic tanks and agricultural fertilizer and can cause algae growth in streams, which results in "dead zones," Hankins said.

On Thursday, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced it had awarded the Conservation Fund a $400,000 grant for restoration of natural buffers along the stream, according to a news release from The Conservation Fund.

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The project will also involve returning brook trout to Rockymarsh Run, Hankins said.

Hankins said his group's approach might be restoring natural buffers along different sections of Rockymarsh Run and then monitoring the health of the stream. The results of that work can be used for similar projects in other parts of the state, Hankins said.

Hankins said the project could also include working with property owners along the stream to help them establish natural buffers.

The grant will not only benefit Rockymarsh Run but the Chesapeake Bay, which has suffered from nutrient runoff over the years, according to the release.

The $400,000 grant was part of $5 million in grants announced Thursday by Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water for the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The grants will be used to protect watersheds in areas like Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C., which ultimately affect the Chesapeake Bay, Hankins said.

"These projects have tremendous potential to accelerate the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

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