Conservation awards: Local trio take bow
Posted: November 20, 2012
The Winchester Star
STRASBURG — There’s something fishy about Mark Zimmerman, and the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District honored him for it last week.
Zimmerman — a member of the local Trout Unlimited (TU) chapter — was presented Thursday with the group’s Conservation Educator Award for 2012 for his work with the Trout in the Classroom (TIC) project.
A Frederick County farmer and a Clarke County supervisor were among the other award winners.
Richard Hoover, chairman of the district board, said the honorees have helped prevent soil erosion and water pollution and have enhanced habitats and protected wildlife.
A semi-governmental agency, the district promotes best management practices that prevent water pollution and soil erosion and help administer federal and state funds for such programs.
Hoover told the audience at the luncheon meeting at the Hotel Strasburg that the effects of the work of Zimmerman and others run “all the way to the Chesapeake Bay.”
Zimmerman, a retired research scientist who moved to the Winchester area in 2003, founded the Trout in the Classroom program in 2007 after the local TU chapter received a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.
TU provides cold water aquariums and native brook trout eggs, which arrive in early October. Teachers and students watch the trout eggs hatch into fish less than 1⁄8-inch long, and then feed and raise them to 2- to 3-inch fingerlings.
In early May, the students release fingerlings into a local stream and spend a morning learning about macro-invertebrate aquatic life there.
District board treasurer Bernard “Bud” Nagelvoort said that to date, local students have released more than 5,000 brook trout into Redbud Run.
The program helps restock local streams with a species that has been decimated by polluted waters and teaches students about the environment, meeting the state’s Standard of Learning requirements.
In the current year, Nagelvoort said, the local TU chapter is supporting 17 aquariums in Winchester, Boyce, Woodstock and Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., raising trout provided by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Zimmerman served as vice president of education for the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited from 2006 to 2009 and, as part of his duties, was state coordinator for the TIC program. During that time, the program expanded across Virginia. Thirteen TU chapters have taken it up, and more than 200 aquariums are functioning this year.
The district’s award for Outstanding Conservation Farmer of the Year was presented to Timothy W. Kettlewell of Stephens City.
Kettlewell’s 91-acre farm lies along Stephens Run southeast of the town, where he operates a beef cow/calf herd and raises sheep on pasture.
Working through two federal programs — The Conservation Reserve and Enhancement Program and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative — and the state’s Agriculture Best Management Practices program, Kettlewell created a plan to protect and enhance the riparian areas of his farm and its mature forest area and improve its soil and pasture.
Kettlewell drilled a new well to water livestock, allowing him to fence them out of Stephens Run and rotate them through seven pastures.
He installed more than a mile of fencing to accomplish that, and created a 35-foot-wide buffer area along the stream and around a spring and pond. He planted the area with native hardwoods, to stabilize the stream banks and create wildlife habitat.
District director Paul Anderson of Frederick County, in presenting the award, said Kettlewell has done “excellent work,” and made a significant investment in improving and conserving water and farmland.
Clarke County Supervisor David Weiss, a partner in the family-owned Frankford Farm in Clarke, was recognized for his effort to advocate for conservation efforts in the county.
His father, the late Art Weiss, was for many years chairman of the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District board.
Frankford Farm is a 2,200-acre operation, with both owned and rented land. The Weiss family has 150 acres in cropland, 430 acres of hay and more than 1,600 in pasture for a commercial brood cow operation of 475 head.
While Frankford Farm’s management has installed watering troughs, fencing and a rotational grazing plan, district director Wayne E. Webb of Clarke County said Weiss’s influence is responsible for stream fencing projects at three other county farms.
Long Pond Farm protected 7,400 feet of Craig Run; North Hill Farm protected 2,500 feet of the Shenandoah River and is working on a another 2,600 feet; and Penhurst Trust is finishing a project to protect nearly 1,300 feet of Craig Run.
“David has lent his experience and valuable opinion to many similar projects in the past, which is why we are pleased to award him with the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservation Advocate Award,” Webb said.
— Contact Val Van Meter at email@example.com