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Plant Trees to Clean the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has put out a call for people who’d like to plant trees – hundreds of them – in the Shenandoah Valley.

Matt Kowalski says the owner of Sutmoller Farm in Rockingham County has fenced his property to keep cows and horses out the streams that lead to Smith Creek, but when it rains or snow melts, soil, animal waste and other fertilizer can be washed into the water – from creeks to rivers to the Chesapeake Bay. Trees, with their long roots, help to prevent that problem.

“They help slow down the water flowing off the land," Kowalski explains.  "When it slows down, there’s more of an opportunity for that water to sink in, and that means that pollutants also get a chance to soak into the ground, and then the trees can absorb some of those nutrients and some of that water as well.”

More than 900 seedlings will be planted on three acres just south of New Market.  Kowalski says tools and snacks will be provided, but volunteers should dress for the weather.

“I understand we’re going to bein the 20’s tomorrow morning, working our way up into the 40’s, so they need to dress warm, and most of the time if you can wear a good pair of boots that helps out.”

And, of course, organizers will explain how to plant the seedlings and protect them from hungry deer.

Details for volunteers:

The tree planting will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on the Sutmoller Property at 235 Fairview Church Road in Timberville, just south of New Market. Volunteers should be prepared to get wet and muddy and wear layers, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Children can take part in the planting if closely supervised by adults. Light refreshments will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring water. All volunteers must register in advance at this link or by visiting

The planting will be led by the Shenandoah Valley Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with support from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. This conservation project is funded by the National Water Quality Initiative under NRCS and Virginia’s Agricultural Cost Share Program administered by the SWCD.