Sustainable Landscaping Workshop

butterflyBring Butterflies and Birds
Invest in Your Garden to
Save Money, Time & Energy

Date: Thursday, June 13th
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Where: Boyce Elementary School–Library

Experts from Blandy, Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District and Master Naturalists will share information about sustainable landscaping and yard care practices, garden ecology and backyard habitat creation—with an emphasis on Monarch butterflies. Discover how and why you can benefit by changing the way you care for your property and how that can help the local environment as we work to clean up Spout Run in Clarke County.

This program is completely free of charge and is brought to you by the Piedmont Environmental Council in cooperation with Clarke County and a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Please contact Gem Bingol at (703) 431-6941 or to sign up, or get more information about the program.

Trout raised in Powhatan classroom released to Spout Run

Powhatan School
May 14, 2013

Follow this blog post and check out the video of students at Powhatan School, with the help of Mark Zimmerman of Trout Unlimited, celebrate the release of several young “fingerling” brook trout, raised from eggs in the classroom, into Spout Run. Tracy Smith, who served as the parent coordinator of this valuable educational program, explains the importance of this 7th grade service project.

This flagship program of Trout Unlimited’s Youth Education efforts, Trout (or Salmon) in the Classroom (TIC or SIC) offers students of all ages a chance to raise salmonids in a classroom setting and then release them into a nearby stream or river. Caring for the fish starts to foster a conservation ethic in the students, and the act of walking to a streambank and directly releasing the fish into the water makes a concrete connection between caring for the fish and caring for the water.

Restoration Planning: TU topographic studies

Stream restoration specialists, Seth Coffman and James Fulcher, from Trout Unlimited take elevation and survey measurements to develop a targeted restoration plan for the stream below Millwood at Carter Hall.

Tall vertical banks contribute a tremendous amount of sediment to Spout Run and the restoration plan will ease the height and slope in targeted locations. Plantings will also help to stabilize the ground to minimize soil erosion.

New Spout Run stream monitors get their feet wet

The Spring weather cooperated last weekend as Gem Bingol of the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) led the streamside segment of her certification course in benthic macroinvertebrate testing. A certification exam was administer at the conclusion of the class.

The C Spout Run partnership has been recruiting volunteers to help monitor the health of our streams by checking the numbers and types of aquatic species that live in them. These certified volunteers will help gauge the effectiveness of efforts to bring back the watershed by sampling the animal life at various points several times a year.

Congratulations and thank you to our new class of certified volunteers. We look forward to sharing baseline and ongoing testing data with the Spout Run community as this project progresses.

Trees for TMDL – Planting in Boyce

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 1.17.25 PM

The Virginia Department of Forestry receives grant funds from U.S. Forest Service Region-8 for the purchase and planting of tree seedlings in impaired watersheds.   The grant, called “Trees for TMDL”, is distributed by the Virginia Department of Forestry to partners looking to install riparian buffers.  Clarke County was the recipient of a generous gift of $2,000.  These funds were used to plant over 200 seedlings in the Spout Run watershed at Boyce Elementary School, Powhatan School, and the Burwell Morgan Mill. Conservation Services, Inc. performed the planting.


Rescheduled for April 13: Clarke County Stream Monitoring Program, Training and Certification

Given the predicted 40 degree temperatures for Saturday, Saturday’s training is cancelled.  I realize I overestimated how warm the weather would be.  I think you would rather not freeze in order to participate!

Please put Saturday, April 13th at 1pm on your calendar for the rescheduled training date.

Thank you,

Gem Bingol
Piedmont Environmental Council

Clarke County Stream Monitoring Program Training and Certification

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 8.16.13 AMDate: Rescheduled for April 13 at 1:00 p.m.

Location: Powhatan School, streamside at Page Brook Run, by the bridge to the ball fields. Park in the back parking lot.

Learn how to perform the collection method for the Virginia Save Our Streams Protocol. Take the opportunity to become certified as a stream monitor afterwards.

Location: Powhatan School, streamside at Page Brook Run, by the bridge to the ball fields. Park in the back parking lot.

Bring: boots and notes from past classes, if you have them.

More for our instructor:

Hello Stream Monitors!

In-stream  training demonstration and practice will come first, followed by an opportunity to take the test to be certified.

For those who are unable to attend on the 9th, or need to retake the test, there will be an additional streamside training and certification opportunity in April, date TBD. Please let me know if you cannot make it on the 9th, but are still interested in becoming certified.

If you attended the classroom training, please remember to bring your notes. If you did not attend, I will have ID sheets available.
Please wear/bring boots or waders, as you will need to get in the stream in order to demonstrate proper collection technique.
If you’d like to have more opportunity to look at bugs online, you can check out these resources:
  — describes the characteristics of the various invertebrates that can be found.
  —  excellent set of pictures of each type of critter that you might find in the stream that you would have to identify.  It includes a wide variety of Mayflies, Stoneflies and Caddisflies with their specific characteristics visible.
  This is a fun site if you’d like to practice testing yourself–it’s an online test based on photos–doesn’t cover everything, but a good variety.
And there are lots of keys for Identification online.  If you google benthic macroinvertebrates or benthic macroinvertebrate key  you could spend a long time checking them all out and find your own favorites.
As a follow-up thought to our last class, you may be interested in getting a little more information about the taxonomy  of the various macroinvertebrates that you will see in the stream.
Here’s a link to a taxonomic chart that shows the various invertebrates that we specifically count during a monitoring session:
In the Virginia SOS protocol, there are several macros which you are not required to identify beyond the Class level. And in no case does the protocol require identification past the Order level, though there is a fascinating diversity of Mayflies, Stoneflies and Caddisflies which are the three most sensitive macros you will find.
There’s a short slide show at this link which describes benthic macroinvertebrates and the “jobs” that they have in a stream.
I look forward to seeing you on March 9th!
Gem Bingol
Loudoun & Clarke Field Officer
Piedmont Environmental Council
703-431-6941 (cell)

Spout Run volunteer session set

The Winchester Star
(February 9, 2013)

BOYCE — The C Spout Run organization is looking for volunteers to help monitor the health of the Shenandoah River tributary and chart the progress of restoration efforts.

The classroom portion of a certification program will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Boyce Fire Hall. A one-day stream-side training class will take place in March.

Spout Run and its tributaries Roseville Run and Page Brook have been declared “impaired” waterways by Virginia’s Depart- ment of Environmental Quality because of bacterial pollution and excessive sedimentation.

Various local groups have banded together to clean up the streams.

Sampling bottom-dwelling creatures is one way to measure stream health. Volunteers are needed to get their feet wet, learn a new skill and help the watershed.

Gem Bingol of the Piedmont Environmental Council will lead a free cer tification course in benthic macroinvertebrate testing, one way to monitor the health of streams by checking the types of aquatic species that live in them.

Certified volunteers can help to gauge the ef fectiveness of the efforts to bring back the watershed by sampling the animal life at various points several times a year.

Program could help in cleanup of Spout Run

SRJ Monitoring Class Promo 2

The Winchester Star

BOYCE — Tiny stream critters, looking like extras in a miniature horror flick, have a tale to tell.

To the educated eye, they can give clues to the health and cleanliness of flowing streams and rivers.

Gem Bingol of the Piedmont Environmental Council invited half a dozen Clarke County residents to become detectives panning for those clues in Spout Run, during a meeting Wednesday at the Boyce Volunteer Fire Company social hall.

Bingol is setting up teams to begin a monitoring program as part of the effort to clean up Spout Run, which has been declared an impaired waterway by the state.

A number of groups and organizations have joined forces to clean up the stream.

Bingol said the new monitoring program, which will survey aquatic organisms at specific sites four times a year, will be used in conjunction with the chemical monitoring of water samples from 12 sites in Clarke.

Aquatic organisms can provide a snapshot of the health of a stream, Bingol said, because some species can only live in clean water, while others have adapted to various levels of pollution.

“They can tell a story about the water quality and the ecological health of the stream overall,” she said.

Monitors use a net to capture organisms at a particular spot on a stream, usually downstream from a riffle, a spot where water gains oxygen by tumbling over rocks.

The volunteers follow a specific procedure, developed by the Virginia Save our Streams organization. They capture organisms, sort them — usually into ice cube trays — and then identify them. The number of each type is noted on a form and experts can interpret the str eam’s health through the data.

Bingol said the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality does the same type of biological monitoring at 150 locations across the state, but that means lots of places aren’t monitored. That’s where citizens can take action, she said.

With new volunteers, the PEC will help set up monitoring posts at locations on Spout Run, which could help show progress as other groups work on projects like stream bank restoration and tree planting.

It usually takes monitors about two hours to check a site, she said, adding that they want to quickly return the critters to their habitat.

A team leader will have two or three volunteers helping with the critter survey.
Bingol will lead a training session for the new volunteers on Feb. 12. Families are welcome to attend, she said.

Dean Bradley, who lives on the Shenandoah River, said he has four children who might be intrigued by the activity, while earning community service hours demanded by Clarke County schools.

Terrell Juth, who lives on the Blue Ridge Mountain, said she and her husband enjoy fishing in the Shenandoah, which was why they decided to attend the meeting. She said they will probably join a monitoring team. Citizen science, she said, “is a good way to get people to care” about the environment.

For more information on the monitoring program, contact Bingol at 703-431-6941 or email her at .

For information on the Spout Run cleanup project go to .

— Contact Val Van Meter at

Become a stream monitor

SRJ Monitoring Class Promo

(First training class February 12, 7:00 p.m., at the Boyce Firehall. Second Session: Saturday March 9th at 1 p.m. Location: Powhatan School, streamside at Page Brook Run, by the bridge to the ball fields. Park in the back parking lot. Bring: boots and notes from past classes if you have them.)

C Spout Run is looking for volunteers to help monitor the health of our stream and the progress of restoration efforts. Sampling bottom-dwelling (benthic) critters is one of the best (and most fun) ways to measure stream health. This is your chance to get your feet wet, learn a fascinating new skill, and help our watershed.

Gem Bingol of the Piedmont Environmental Council will be leading a free certification course in benthic macroinvertebrate testing.

Please come to the Boyce Firehall on February 12 at 7:00 p.m. for more information and take the classroom portion of your certification. A one-day streamside training class will take place in March (when it’s a little warmer).

Watch The Spout Run Journal: An Invitation to Stream Monitoring