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. If you see large amounts of trash, garbage or litter that have been illegally dumped or just collected in a place not designated or intended as a trash disposal site, please contact Fairfax County at 703-324-5230.
Do not remove trees, grade or disturb the land within 100' of the creek without permission from Fairfax County. The 100' buffer is designated the Resource Protection Area (RPA), and is protected by Fairfax County's Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance. Activities in the RPA are regulated by Fairfax County, as described here.
Use creek-friendly lawn care.
Never fertilize without testing. If your lawn doesn't need phosphorus (and most Northern Virginia lawns don't) don't add it, use a phosphorous-free fertilizer.
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.
Fertilizer from lawns is a major 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.
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.
Replace your lawn with native trees and plants. Who needs all that time-consuming, noisy, gas-guzzling, polluting, planet-warming lawn maintenance, anyway?
The Audubon at Home program (sponsored by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia) helps homeowners in Northern Virginia and nearby counties enhance the value of their properties as wildlife habitat, attract and support birds and other beneficial wildlife, and protect water quality in nearby streams.
If you live in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, Fauquier, or Rappahannock Counties, you can request a free visit from an Audubon at Home Ambassador, who can walk your yard with you and advise on ways to enhance its value as wildlife habitat. Submit your request here.
Landscaping for wildlife means adopting healthy yard practices that slow and absorb stormwater runoff, and protect water quality in Little Hunting Creek and other Northern Virginia streams.
If the wildlife shows up and uses your yard, you can even get certified as a Wildlife Sanctuary! Learn more about it here.