Links & Resources

What Can You Do?

Browse the sections below for some practical tips and resources.

New Market Library Rain Garden Project
New Market Library Rain Garden Project

Take advantage of technical and financial assistance for Best Management Practices. Contact your local Soil & Water Conservation District or NRCS office.

The Town of New Market in partnership with VA Cooperative Extension, VA Tech and Rutgers University installed a rain garden to capture stormwater from the roof of the town’s new library.

Communities depend on balancing quality of life and economic activity. In the Shenandoah Valley, our communities and businesses derive multiple benefits from the scenic beauty and productive working lands to help recruit employees and deepen the strong cultural connections many residents have with our lands and waters.

Businesses can improve the health of our streams through efficient energy utilization, materials handling and waste management such as:

  • Reducing waste materials and landfill-bound trash
  • Implementing voluntary Best Management Practices such as vegetated stream buffers, rain gardens and bio-retention ponds
  • Reducing energy consumption thereby reducing air emissions and impacts on surface water

For additional ideas or assistance consult the following:

Open Field
Be Conservation Minded

Protecting your working land and waterways is a legacy for future generations.

Protecting farms, forests and wildlife habitat from intensive development helps sustain natural and cultural resources and supports local economies that are dependent on productive rural lands. Conservation easements and other protection tools are available to landowners who wish to voluntarily protect their land and related resources. There also are several significant tax benefits available to conservation easement donors.

Contact the following for assistance:

Valley Conservation Council
18 Barristers Row

Staunton, VA 24401

Virginia Outdoors Foundation
11 East Beverley Street

Staunton, VA 24401

Virginia Department of Forestry
Attn: Rob Farrell

P.O. Box 3758
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Use Best Management Practices

Simple changes in farm management make a huge difference!

  • Plant and maintain streamside buffers (or “riparian buffers”) to reduce erosion and keep fertilizer and animal waste out of streams. We recommend at least a 50-foot-wide planting of native trees and shrubs along streams.
  • Adopt best management practices (BMPs) to conserve and protect soil and water. Your livestock, your wallet and our water quality all will benefit in the long run.
  • Download the Valley District Stream Exclusion Info Sheet
  • Develop a manure management plan for areas where animals concentrate. It is better for herd health and water quality.
  • Learn more about Virginia’s Nutrient Management Program 
  • See the Crop Description Bulletin
  • Avoid dumping anything in sinkholes which can pollute groundwater and ultimately surface waters. Remember, this groundwater may be your well water or your neighbor’s.
  • Read more about Karst
  • Avoid filling or clearing wet areas as these naturally filter and retain water runoff, reducing sedimentation and flooding.

Virginia Agricultural BMP / Cost Share and Tax Credit Programs

Reductions in nonpoint source(NPS) pollution can be attained by reducing activities that produce NPS pollutants, reducing the amount of pollutants generated by an existing activity and reducing the negative effects these pollutants can have by controlling their dispersal. To that end, NPS best management practices (BMPs) are important tools in controlling NPS pollution and environmental contamination.

While there are many sources of NPS pollution, agriculture is among the most significant in Virginia. Because agriculture requires many acres, its potential impact on water quality is great. For example, one EPA study estimates that 27 percent of the phosphorus and 60 percent of the nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay originate from cropland. These pollutants need to be controlled to protect the environment.

DCR administers programs through local soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) to improve or maintain water quality in the state’s streams, lakes and bays through the installation or implementation of agricultural BMPs. Through the programs, financial and technical assistance are offered as incentives to carry out construction or implementation of selected BMPs.

Funding varies by district. The state provides funds to the districts for targeted priority hydrologic units. Areas with the greatest need, therefore, receive the greatest funding.

Assistance is available year-round to individuals willing to carry out an approved conservation plan. The business of farming requires as much planning and organization as any other. Strategies to protect surface and ground water should be in those plans. Many plans qualify but all must be approved by the local district board to participate in these programs. Districts seek and recruit individuals whose efforts can make the greatest positive impact upon water quality.


Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District
722-B E. Queen St.
Strasburg, VA 22657
(540) 465-2424

Natural Resources Conservation Service
722-B E. Queen St.
Strasburg, VA 22657
540-465-2424 ext. 114


Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District
1934 Deyerle Avenue, Suite B
Harrisonburg VA 22801
(540) 434-2853 ext. 101

Natural Resources Conservation Service
1934 Deyerle Avenue, Suite B
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
(540) 434-9126 ext. 118

Forest Stream
Protect Our Creeks and Streams

Best Management Practices are key to improving watershed health.

  • If you are actively managing your forestland for commercial timber harvest, employ best management practices (BMPs) to ensure that disturbed soils remain in the woods to grow the next generation of trees and do not end up in streams.
  • Maintain a forested buffer at least 50 feet wide along streams during harvesting activities which keeps wildlife habitat and travel corridors intact while keeping soil and nutrients out of the water.
  • Obtain assistance from a professional forester to develop harvest and management plans which will yield healthier forests and better economic returns from the timber.
  • Plant trees in sensitive streamside areas and abandoned agricultural fields to restore habitat for wildlife and to reduce soil and nutrient run off impacts on streams.

Contact the following for technical and financial assistance:

Virginia Department of Forestry
State Office
900 Natural Resources Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Shenandoah County Forester
VA Department of Forestry
265 Lakeview Drive
Woodstock, VA 22664

Rockingham County Forester
VA Department of Forestry
265 Lakeview Drive
Woodstock, VA 22664

Planting a Tree

Make a difference with simple changes in your home and lawn maintenance.

  • Landscape with native wildflowers, shrubs and trees to enhance property values, attract birds and other native wildlife, discourage invasive species and contribute to healthy watersheds. You will also reduce your need for fertilizing and extra watering.
  • Install a rain garden (a prepared depression planted with native plants) or rain barrels to help reduce the impact of stormwater runoff and reduce water costs.
  • Allow streamside areas to remain vegetated with shrubs and small trees, or plant native grasses, shrubs and small trees in these areas. It creates natural habitat and armors streambanks against erosion.
  • Minimize your use of herbicides and pesticides, as these cost money and can wash into streams during storms and kill plants and animals.
  • Have your soil tested before fertilizing your lawn and garden. Follow fertilizer application instructions carefully — excess fertilizer wastes money and can wash into streams, damage aquatic habitats, and degrade water quality.
  • Minimize impervious surfaces like paved roads and driveways, as well as rooftops, which prevent water from soaking into the ground and contribute to downstream flooding.
  • Avoid dumping anything into sinkholes which can pollute groundwater, wells, and ultimately streams and rivers.
  • Avoid clearing or filling wet areas as these naturally filter and retain water runoff, reducing sedimentation and flooding.

Contact the following for assistance:

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
Division of Soil and Water Conservation
44 Sangers Lane
Staunton, VA 24401

Virginia Native Plant Society
400 Blandy Farm Lane, Unit 2
Boyce, VA 22620
(540) 837-1600

Virginia Cooperative Extension
965 Pleasant Valley Road
Harrisonburg, VA 22801

Fenced Field
Local Government Protecting Our Environment

Many resources are available to help your community safeguard the health of its watershed.

Land use and economic development decisions made by local government leaders can have a far-reaching effect on both local economies and the health of natural resources, including water quality. Clean water is an important asset to robust communities. There are numerous watershed protection resources available to local government leaders and staff.

For additional ideas or assistance consult the following: