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Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District
8850 Rixlew Lane
Manassas, VA 20109
Tel: (571)379-7514
Fax: (571)379-8305

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News & Events

Prince William Drinking Water Clinic 2018

Prince William Cooperative Extension will hold the annual drinking water clinic. Kick-off meeting is March 26th, 7-8:30pm at PWC Board Chamnber at the McCoart Building. The sample drop off meeting is March 28th 6:30am to 10:00am only, and the results interpretation meeting is May 9th from 7-9pm at PWC Board Chamber at the McCoart Building. Complete information may be found here.

Youth Conservation Camp July 8 - 14, 2018 held at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

For forty years the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts has sponsored a week long summer conservation camp for Virginia high school students (currently enrolled in grades 9-12) on the campus of Virginia Tech. The program brings together about 70 interested students for a week of learning about Virginia's natural resources from conservation professionals and faculty from Virginia Tech. Most of the instruction is hands-on and outdooors. A $500 scholarship has been made available by Ducks Unlimited. Camper will provide the $50 registration fee to the District. Pictures from last years camp are available on Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts Facebook page. Camp agenda for the week and Camp application. The application is due to Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District, 8850 Rixlew Lane, Manassas, VA 20109, phone 571-379-7514, fax 571-379-8305 or email

Water Quality Monitoring Volunteers needed for Biological Citizen Science Program!

What is the health of our streams? How can we improve our water quality?
Citizens collect and send stream data to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) through local Save Our Streams program. Join Certified Monitors and Veronica Tangiri, our Associate Director and Water Quality Monitoring Volunteer Coordinator, to learn about the health of our streams and how you can impact the health of our waterways. Answers to common questions are:
*How often can a site be monitored? Not more than 4 times in a year (quarterly).
*What does it take to become certified? 1. Be able to identify the critters. 2. Be able to properly demonstrate the field protocol in data collection. Both are easy and open book!
*Must I be a certified stream monitor? No, you can help the existing monitoring teams, too! But DEQ only accepts data that comes from certified stream monitors.
*What is recommended before taking the certification test? Take part in at least 2-3 stream monitoring events before sitting for the certification test.

Adopt A Stream Program

For information about the Adopt A Stream Program visit the Adopt A Stream page. For Water Quality Monitoring programs call 571-379-7514 or email

Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs)

We are scheduling MWEEs at Windy Knoll Farm, Nokesville, for spring 2018. This program is Virginia Standards of Learning based for third grade students to promote stewardship in the context of one's neighborhood and community. Carefully selected experiences, driven by academic learning standards engendering discovery and wonder, and nurturing a sense of community will further connect students with the watershed and help reinforce an ethic of responsible citizenship. 1800 students and 70 teachers have participated in these programs since 2012. The students are excited to get their hands down into the soil, learn the substance of soil, the uses of soil, NO SOIL - NO FOOD, and about the human impact on soil and water. There is an action component for every MWEE for restoration, stabilization or protection projects and a recently added bonus "Pollinators". Without them we would be in big trouble. We invite you to volunteer for this great program. Training provided, no rocket science involved. Contact us to register 571-379-7514 or or

2017 Clean Water Farm Award


Greenville Farm - Congratulations to Thomas and Alisha Latham and family, owners of Greenville Farm and Family Campground, located on Shelter Lane in Haymarket, for being the recipients of the 2017 Clean Water Farm Award.. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation recognizes Virginia farmers who implement conservation practices for doing their part to preserve water quality. These individuals are role models who encourage stewardship in others.

Thomas is the fifth generation in his family since the farm was founded in 1828. He is the primary individual responsible for day to day operations of the farm. The farm maintains a herd of approimately 150 beef cattle, 270 acres of field crops and 90 acres of hay are raised to support the cattle and sale. In 1967 the Family Campground was added to the operation, which currently consists of 43 wooded acres developed for all types of camping from tents to RV's.

Conservation of soil and water resources has been a long-time cornerstone for the management of Greenville Farm that has enabled them to maintain nearly two centuries of continuous agricultural production. Mr. Latham's father began working with Northern Virginia SWCD and SCS on conservation plans and practices in the 1970's and 1980's. The current generation has continued to be good stewards of the land by installing, maintaining, and/or upgrading conservation practices over the years and participating in cost-share funds.

2016 Clean Water Farm Award

loneoak Lone Oak Farm - Congratulations to John and Barbara Brower, owners and Raymond and Ray Byrnes, Jr., operators, for being chosen as the recipients of the 2016 Clean Water Farm Award. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation recognizes Virginia farmers who implement conservation practices for doing their part to preserve water quality. These individuals are role models who encourage stewardship in others.

Lone Oak Farm on Pageland Lane in Catharpin is a historic, circa 1886 farm held by the Brower family. The 100 acres 56 acres in pasture and 44 acres in hay, are home to 40 beef cows that are rotated through six pasture fields. The Browers signed up for Stream Exclusion with Grazing Land Management cost-share program, installing buffer fencing, stream crossings, and water roughs. The buffer fencing protects approximately 10,300' of streambank, creating 22 acres of vegetated buffer.

The owners and operators of Lone Oak Farm have kept current with their conservation plan over the years. Their goal is to continue farming while protecting the soil and water.

2015 Clean Water Farm Award

Heflin Farm The Cedars Farm - Congratulations to Carlton Heflin, of The Cedars Farm in Haymarket, for being chosen as the recipient of the 2015 Clean Water Farm Award. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation recognizes Virginia farmers who implement conservation practices for doing their part to preserve water quality. These individuals are role models who encourage stewardship in others.

The Cedars farm is a 125 acre property nestled next to 43 new neighbors in Dominion Valley. This is a 35 head commercial brood cow operation on this historic family farm, owned and farmed by the family since 1936. Carl signed up for the SL-6 Livestock Exclusion best management practice in the spring of 2014 protecting over 6,900 feet of stream bank. He rotates the cattle in five pasture fields as part of his rotational grazing system on 67 acres of the property. Thirty two acres are in woodland excluded from livestock. Carl keeps his nutrient management conservation plan up to date through the District and has benefitted by the assistance and knowledge of the staff.

2015 Ducks Unlimited Conservationist of the Year Award

PWCA treePrince William Conservation Alliance Congratulations to Kim Hosen, Executive Director, Charlie Grymes, Chairman and Bill Olsen, Vice Chairman. Members of Ducks Unlimited announced their winner of the prestigious Conservationist of the Year Award for 2015. The PWCA Board will be honored at the annual Ducks Unlimited Banquet on February 26 at the Portuguese Club.

Prince William Conservation Alliance (PWCA) is an independent nonprofit conservation organization focused on watershed protection and natural resource conservation. Formed in 2002 by concerned county residents, PWCA conservation programs have helped protect important community resources and open public lands for public uses. PWCA's successful effort to form a conservation partnership with Marine Corps Base Quantico and Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) permanently preserved the 300-acre historic Merrimac Farm and established the first Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Northern Virginia. Today Merrimac Farm WMA is open to the public for hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching. PWCA continues to partner with DGIF to provide community programs at Merrimac Farm. Our Wildlife Garden, a landscape conservation demonstration project, replaced a wasteland of invasive plants with high quality native habitat where suburban homeowners can discover possibilities for natural landscaping. This project recently received recognition from the Plant NoVA Natives Campaign.

PWCA's work over several years at the County-owned Dove's Landing site led to the opening of this 225-acre natural area for low-impact, wildlife-compatible uses. At Silver Lake, PWCA's leadership helped protect this new parkland for passive recreation uses. PWCA's outreach and advocacy efforts led to a new US Fish and Wildlife Service management plan that recommended opening all of the Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge to public access, which is expected to happen in 2016. Together, these sites represent an additional 700 acres of natural areas available for wildlife watching, hiking, and other passive recreation uses in densely populated Northern Virginia, where public natural areas are limited and in demand. Still on the list: opening Lake Manassas to public fishing, as is already allowed on the Occoquan Reservoir. Conservation of natural areas in Northern Virginia is not a one-time project. Thanks to local support, PWCA plans to continue its efforts for years to come.

2014 Ducks Unlimited Conservationist of the Year Award

Kelly and ChipPrince William Soil & Water Conservation District nominated Kelly Jimenez for the Ducks Unlimited Conservationist of the Year Award. Chip Rohr, Ducks Unlimited, presents this award to Kelly Jimenez at the February 27th Ducks Unlimited banquet, held in Manassas. Kelly is an outstanding conservationist and her tireless efforts to protect the natural resources of Prince William County will have a lasting impact. Her leadership in developing the Prince William County Adopt-A-Stream program has led to the annual cleanup of litter from over 40 miles of waterways in our locality. As a result of her efforts, over 50 tons of trash have been removed from these waterbodies. This has vastly improved water quality and wildlife habitat. Her ability to pull new people and organizations into the conservation community has enabled her to accomplish this great feat. She has inspired hundreds of individuals to assist her in cleaning up the rivers, streams, and wetlands of Prince William County.

Kelly has spearheaded other projects that have had significant influence on water quality in our community. She has worked with the town of Quantico and Prince William Forrest Park to develop a water quality monitoring program on Quantico Creek. The purpose of this monitoring program is to try and identify the source of bacterial contamination in the creek, so the problem can be resolved and the stream used safely once again for recreational purposes.

Kelly was also the leading force in the establishment of a forested riparian buffer on Catharpin Creek in Haymarket. This project took place on the grounds of Battlefield High School. Kelly brought conservation professionals from the Prince William SWCD, NRCS, Cooperative Extension, PWC Public Works, Earth Sangha, and other organizations together to assist and educate earth science students from BHS through this hands on learning experience. These upcoming conservationists now have a living classroom where they can explore firsthand how conservation practices improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

In addition to these projects, Kelly has demonstrated her dedication to being a conservation leader in numerous other ways. She has helped develop and lead the Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition. This organization works hand in hand with the PWC Parks Department to develop and expand public access to natural lands and waters in PWC. She has served as the local administrator for the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Consevation Districts scholarship program and the Youth Conservation Camp, as well as an Area II Envirothon leader. By serving in these capacities Kelly has provided numerous area youths the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of conservation and natural resources. Kelly and her family have a rural property in Catharpin and they manage it in a manner to conserve and improve natural resources. This has inspired many of their friends and neighbors to do the same. Congratulations Kelly!

Evergreen Acres

2014 Clean Water Farm Award

Congratulations to Jim and Jean Gehlsen for being chosen the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Clean Water Farm Award. This award is given to a Prince William County farmer who implements conservation practices to do their part to preserve water quality. These individuals are role models who encourage stewardship in others.

Farmers who receive the Virginia Clean Water Farm Award are progressive in managing their farm operations and have adopted and implemented innovative conservation tools, technologies and practices. The Gehlsen's gladly share their stewardship accomplishmemts through educational outreach with other farmers.

The Gehlsen's own and operate Evergreen Acres Farm in Nokesville on 46 acres of speciality crops including 38 acres of Christmas trees planted no-till. The balance of the cropland is in vegetable crops and pumpkins. Mr. Gehlsen utilizes cover crops heavily in the operation and some of his crops are planted no-till into the cover crop. He accepts stall waste from local horse farms which he composts and applies to his crop fields. The utilization of this stall waste insures that it is properly repurposed so the nutrients are kept out of the waterways, thus out of the Chesapeake Bay. The entire length of 3,700' of Cedar Run stream bank on the property is protected by a voluntary 50'+ wide buffer. His farm operation is certified organic and is environmentally sound.

The Gehlsens open up their farm each fall for the Prince William County Farm Tour. At this event they showcase their operation and practices to hundreds of visitors. Cooperative Extension and other groups use Evergreen Acres for field trips and in-field producer meetings. For years Mr. Gehlsen has presented a display of materials, from his farm, for the 1,600 4th grade students at our Farm Field Days two day program at Prince William Fairgrounds. Mr. Gehlsen shows students how he produces crops and protects natural resources.

Congratulations to Jean and Jim Gehlsen for their diligent efforts to produce "clean" food and Christmas trees for Prince William County citizens in such a way that they improve water quality in our streams and waterways.

A message from Jay Yankey, District Manager

A conservation plan can help direct landowners in making management decisions that can increase animal health, profitability, and the aesthetics of their property, while protecting natural resources. The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and County Code requires that all agricultural lands in Prince William County have a conservation plan. The Conservation District is tasked to write these plans, free of charge. Our Conservation Specialists and I will be actively engaging farmers and landowners who do not have conservation plans to offer our plan writing services. For farms that already have a conservation plan we will revise/update your plan if it is over three years old, or if you have significantly changed your operation. We would be happy to schedule a visit with you at your convenience and we look forward to working with you in the coming months. Any questions, give us a call 571.379.7514.

Regulations on Fill Dirt

In November 2013 the Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved a zoning text amendment (ZTA) that affects agriculturally zoned properties. The ZTA requires a special use permit for storage or disposal of non-agriclutural excavation material (fill dirt) on A-1 zoned properties, if the material transported to the property exceeds 15 deliveries on any one day or 300 deliveries in one year. The amendment language also defines non-agricultural excavation material as only rock and soil not generated on the farm.

The District discourages the disposal of non-agricultural material on cropland, hayland, or pastureland. The material is generally poor quality, and lacks the structure, organic matter, and nutrients needed to successfully establish grass or crops. Our experience has been that it is a long and expensive process to overcome these obstacles and convert this fill material to productive soil.

If you accept non-agricultural fill material on your property, we suggest that you do not bury your top soil in the process. The top soil and native subsoil should be separately stripped and stockpiled before fill material is brought to the site. The stockpiled subsoil and topsoil should then be spread back on top of the fill material in the correct order. The fill material, subsoil, and topsoil all need to be compacted as they are put back into profile. All this excavation requires that appropriate erosion and sediment controls are in place until the site is stabilized with vegetation. Excavation or spreading of fill material is prohibited in a resource protection area or wetland without the appropriate permits from Prince William County, Virginia DEQ, and the Armu\y Corps of Engineers.

Contact Prince William County Zoning office at 703.792.8154 or if you have further questions on the ordinance. If you need technical assistance identifying resource protection areas and other sensitive sites on yoru property, regarding erosion and sediment controls, or reestablishing vegetation on areas of fill material contact the District office at 571.379.7514 or

Citizen's Action Directory for Water Quality in Prince William County

This directory provides contacts for whom to call in the county about water quality issues. The directory covers Agriculture & Forestry, Public Roads & Facilities, Lawn Care & Landscaping, Hazardous Waste & Spills, Public Water & Sewer-Private Wells & Septic, Litter, Recycling & Solid Waste, Stream & River Cleanups, Soil, Erosion, and Drainage & Storm Water Management.

Congratulations Paul House, Kettle Wind Farm, LLC, 2013 Clean Water Farm Award recipient!

Kettle Wind Farm, owned and operated by Paul House and family, is primarily a dairy cattle operation. They also farm grain and turf. They manage all of their land by strictly following conservation and nutrient management plans, provided to them by the District and a private consultant. Extensive use of conservation practices such as conservation tillage, cover crops, grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, manure storage, and livestock stream exclusion on this operation shows that Kettle Wind Farm is committed to protecting natural resources.

Double Congratulations Tom House, Dutchland Farm, Inc., 2013 Potomac Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Award recipient!

This award is only presented to one farm in the entire Potomac River watershed each year. Dutchland Farm, owned and operated by Tom House and family, is a dairy and cash grain operation and has a long history of working with the District to conserve and protect natural resources. they manage the entire operation following a conservation and nutrient management plan. All of the cattle on Dutchland Farm have been excluded from the streams and water ways on the farm. Much of the exclusion fence was done voluntarily. Over the years, they have installed manure storage systems, grassed waterways, and other conservation practices, as well as implementing conservation tillage and cover crops on their cropland.

It is an honor to recognize these operators for their commitment to conserving natural resources in our community. Tom House, the Potomac Grand Basin award recipient will be recognized at the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation District Annual Meeting, December 9th, in Roanoke . For more information on the Clean Water Farm Award contact the District at 571.379.7514.

USDA People's Garden Initiative!

Kudo's to Ashland Elementary School in Manassas for taking part in this great project!!!!!

When Abraham Lincoln founded the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1862, he referred to it as "The People's Department." On February 12, 2009, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack broke ground on the first People's Garden at USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC commenorating that historical event. Today, USDA Agencies and community organizations are working together in establishing People's Gardens to educate and engage the public. People's Gardens must be collaborative efforts that: There are now 1,245 People's Gardens across the country that showcase Pollinators, Native Species, Organics, Wildlife Habitat, Water Gardens, etc. For more information or call the local contact, Roger Flint, NRCS, Warrenton office in Fauquier County, 540-347-3120.

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