What Can I Do to Preserve and Restore Little Hunting Creek?
Homeowners living in the watershed have an important role to play. The actions you take can improve the water quality of Little Hunting Creek, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.
Not only that, some actions that help the creek -- adopting creek-friendly lawn care practices, building a rain garden, installing a rain barrel, or (if you live next to the creek) restoring streamside buffers or placing a conservation easement on your property -- can also
save you money and work,
provide free water for your garden,
attract birds and butterflies, and even
win you tax credits!
First, do no harm!
Make sure nothing goes down a storm drain except water.
Pet waste adds fecal coliforms to the creek and should be disposed of in your trash, never down a storm drain.
Leaves, yard waste, and grass clippings should never be dumped in the creek or disposed of down a storm drain. They pollute the creek with nitrogen and deplete its oxygen. .
Report storm drain dumping. If you see someone dumping hazardous substances like paint or pesticides down a storm drain, call Fairfax Co. Fire and Rescue at 703-691-2131. Report dumping of non-hazardous materials such as pet waste to the Health Department at 703-246-2300.
Do not remove trees, grade or disturb the land within 100' of the creek without permission from Fairfax County. The 100' buffer is a legally protected Resource Protection Area, as described in a brief summary and in more detail in Riparian Buffers Modification and Mitigation Guidance Manual.
Use creek-friendly lawn care.
Use a lawn care service that uses watershed-friendly practices. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation has a list of local lawn care services that have entered into water quality agreements with the Commonwealth.
Never fertilize without testing. If your lawn doesn't need phosphorus (and most Northern VA lawns don't) don't add it, use a phosphorous-free fertilizer such as FESCO.
Use less or no fertilizer by mowing high with a sharp blade and leaving grass clippings on the lawn. They supply up to 1/3 of the nitrogen needs of a lawn.
Consult the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for useful advice about Bay-friendly yard care.
Better yet, replace the lawn with native plantings! Who needs all that time-consuming, noisy, gas-guzzling, planet-warming lawn maintenance, anyway?
Fertilizer from lawns is a big source of pollution. Stormwater runoff carries nitrogen and phosphorous into the creek and causes algae growth and reduces water clarity. It causes "dead zones" in the Chesapeake Bay where oxygen is depleted and fish cannot survive.
Learn about conservation landscaping in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Native Plants for Wildlife Habitats and Conservation Landscaping, which includes a comprehensive list (with pictures) of beautiful native plants that thrive in our region.
Become a Creative Conservationist!
Reduce stormwater runoff from your rooftop and driveway, and find other creative and money-saving uses for it. The gutters, downspouts, and storm drains that surround us were designed to remove rainwater as quickly as possible and dump it in the creek. The high volume and speed of that runoff scours out the stream in its upper reaches, and brings sediment and pollutants down the creek into the Potomac and the Bay.
Several conservation practices (some new, some very old-fashioned) can improve water quality and bring other benefits. You can: