Welcome to the Smith Creek Watershed Partnership!
Imagine hoisting an 18-inch eastern brook trout from the crystal clear waters of Smith Creek or watching children splash in sparkling streams. To ensure these recreational activities are possible in the future, private citizens, non-profit organizations, communities and government agencies are joining forces to clean up Smith Creek and its tributaries.
Many agencies and organizations are now collaborating on projects such as the Clean Streams Initiative and the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture. Recently, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service also designated Smith Creek as a “Chesapeake Bay Showcase Watershed” to be used as a model for other watersheds in the state.
Flowing through Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley, the watershed contains 105 square miles (approximately 67,335 acres) of land in Shenandoah and Rockingham counties. It is located at the headwaters of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Framed by the western slope of the Massanutten Mountain range, the rolling countryside is predominantly used for agriculture and forestry with less than four percent in residential and commercial uses.
The Smith Creek headwaters lie in Rockingham County with a small portion in the city of Harrisonburg. Major tributaries include:
- Lacey Spring Branch (short branch of Lacey Spring)
- Mountain Run (western slope of the Massanutten Mountains)
- Fridley Run (tributary of Mountain Run)
In 1996, Smith Creek was added to Virginia’s Impaired Waters List due to excess sediment and bacteria.
A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Plan identifying goals for reducing bacteria and sediment was released in January 2009. A grass-roots committee is guiding actions and energizing residents to clean up the stream and remove it from the state’s impaired waters list.
Partners are working to educate and engage the agricultural and urban communities in improving land management to benefit water quality. Each landowner has an opportunity to help.
- For the homeowner, perhaps it’s placing a barrel under a gutter to catch rainfall or checking to see that the septic tank is working properly.
- For town officials, it might be advocating for stronger storm water controls in developing areas.
- Farmers can help by planting trees and plants along streams to filter out pollutants or fencing livestock out of waterways.