The population in the Rappahannock River watershed is growing every year. More urban growth means a greater risk of human contamination getting into the river. But with a little education and some changes of everyday practices, we all can make a difference! To find out how you can help keep the river clean, read on!

Watershed 101
What is a watershed? Why is it important to learn about water quality and how we affect it? Learn all about watersheds, water cycles and why every individual should do their part to help. read more ...

Pollution Prevention
Learn several different ways you can help to keep pollutants from entering the river and its tributaries.  read more ...

Yard Practices
Everyone likes a well-kept lawn. But sometimes keeping that lawn looking nice can take a toll on the river. Here's some practices you can do to help. read more ...

Water Conservation at Home
Conserving water at your home can help the river. Much of our drinking water is provided by the river. If we can use less of it, we can help keep the river water plentiful for the future. read more ...

Help Prevent a Killer Threat to the Rappahannock
One of the leading threats to the Rappahannock is excessive sedimentation originating from land use erosion. These sediments enter our waterways, creating "chocolate" water that smothers organisms and degrades water quality. As environmentally-responsible citizens, we can help report erosion problems to the appropriate authorities. read more ...


Low Impact Development (LID)Training Series in the Northern Neck
As part of the expansion of our programs into the lower Rappahannock basin, FOR and the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District have completed a series of 4 professional training workshops on aspects of LID. The forums brought in technical experts for training in design, construction, and maintenance of LID facilities.  Special thanks to Rappahannock Community College Workforce Development Center for hosting the trainings.


Get the Dirt Out Training (GTDO)

FOR recently hosted a GTDO training at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg.  For more information visit our GTDO page

Friends of the Rappahannock Executive Director John Tippett was appointed to the Commonwealth's Technical Advisory Committee for the development of new stormwater regulations.  Now that the regulations are drafted, FOR is working to rally public support for the passage of the final regulations by the Soil and Water Board and the Governor.  19 FOR members went to Richmond in June to testify at the public hearing in support of the new regulations.  FOR is working closely with other conservation organizations across the Commonwealth to oroganize support for the regulations.

Stafford County Watershed Plan Implementation
Under a contract from Stafford County (funded by a VaDCR grant) FOR has completed a project to implement many of the recommendations we made in our prior watershed planning report for Stafford Rappahannock Tributaries (see below).  The projects includes illicit discharge identification and prosecution, targeted riparian restoration, cable and radio ads, neighbor-to-neighbor pollution reduction education programs, and a new signage program for Resource Protection Areas. 

City of Fredericksburg LID Ordinance Project
Under a grant from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, FOR has completed a project to assist the City in drafting new ordinances to increase the use of Low Impact Development (LID) practices in the City.  The ordinances were passed unanimously by Council, making Fredericksburg the 3rd locality in the Rappahannock basin that FOR has assisted in the creation of new codes for Low Impact Development.

Rain Barrel Program
FOR's AmeriCorps*Vista volunteers initiated a rain barrel program in 2003 that has been an ongoing success. The use of rain barrels to collect rainwater is an inexpensive way to decrease stormwater runoff, conserve water for garden and lawn use, and save money. The stored water can be used any where non-portable water is needed (for example, for your garden). The barrels are outfitted at our headquarters and are for sale.
 read more ...

BayGateways - Rappahannock Water Trail
Under a series of grants from the Nationa Park Service Bay Gateways program, F.O.R. has developed an interpretive map and guide covering the Rappahannock from Kellys Ford to Fredericksburg's City Dock, and from Ely's Ford to the Confluence on the Rapidan Rivers. The project also includes interpretive kiosks and a new Water Trail web page. Our teams in the field collected GPS data on a variety of features, which we overlayed onto high resolution aerial imagery. Our next project will be construction of a canoe slide at Old Mill Park in Fredericksburg.  This will repair a bad erosion problem and provide a much needed safe takeout at the Park.
 read more ...

City of Fredericskburg Riparian Lands Conservation Easement
F.O.R. worked for 3 years to promote the placement of the City of Fredericksburg's upriver land holdings into permanent conservation easement.  With the partnership of The Nature Conservancy and The Virginia Outdoors Foundation, we did it !  In April 2006 4,232 acres of riparian corridor (30+ miles) was placed into permanent conservation easement.   Funds were provided to the City from the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, and these funds were placed in a permanent endowment to fund a river steward position.  That position has now been filled and the River has a full-time steward for the City-owned lands.   

In April 2007, FOR organized the first annual Easement Celebration Days in rememberance of the easement.  Gov. Tim Kaine joined us and lauded the City for its actions. 
Thank you Fredericksburg citizens and councilmembers for preserving this scenic river corridor for this generation and future generations ! 

Stafford County Rappahannock Tributaries Study
This intensive watershed management study for Stafford County was funded by a grant to F.O.R. by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. An intensive field data collection effort included hiking over 50 miles of tributaries and development of a GPS-based inventory of stream erosion levels, sediment deposition, pipe inflows, dump sites, and numerous other parameters. Macroinvertbrate, bacterial, and chemical monitoring were conducted for a year at stations on 10 tributaries. Extensive GIS analysis was used to evaluate riparian corridor protection and land use patterns and trends. The final report provided detailed rankings and comparisons for each watershed, along with a suite of recommended policy actions for Stafford County. Download the final report from our publications page.
 read more ...

Stafford County LID Training and Demo Project
In 2004 F.O.R. led this project to train engineering professionals in Stafford County on the design and implementation of Low Impact Development projects. Two workshops were conducted with a total of over 60 attendees. Williamsburg Environmental Group was subcontracted to assist in the training workshops. FOR also designed and constructed two bioretention cells in the parking lot for the Stafford County Administrative Center, and coordinated the installation one Filterra (R) stormwater filter. The demonstration projects are being used by County staff to instruct developer applicants in the proper construction of LID practices.

Low Impact Development Initiative
Low Impact Development (LID) is a totally new approach to managing development impacts to water quality. The premise is to replicate the pre-development water flow and water quality from a development site. Pioneered in Prince George's County Maryland, this approach is starting to take root in other areas across the country. Over the past several years FOR has made significant strides toward our goal of making the Rappahannock River Basin a national model for the implementation of LID practices. Our approach focuses on the the "institutionalization" of LID as the preferred development approach in local government programs. View our annual reports for details.

Passage of the Stafford County LID Code
In the four years prior to 2003, FOR had led a number of educational and consensus building projects aimed at preparing the County staff and elected officials for the next step: code change. In 2003, after extensive work by FOR at the committee level, the Stafford Board of Supervisors passed a series of changes to the Subdivision Ordinance and the Stormwater Code related to LID. First numerous "roadblocks" in the subdivision codes were removed. These codes had provided disincentives to LID, or prohibited certain LID practices outright. Then, the national LID manual was adopted by reference into the County manual, providing clear technical guidelines for LID design and implementation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the County agreed to our request and adopted incentives for developers to choose the LID option now offered in the codes. Specifically, developers that choose to construct new sites according to the LID guidelines will be allowed to do special water-filtering swales in lieu of curb and gutter. They will also be allowed to do trails through common green space in lieu of sidewalks, as long as adequate avenues for pedestrian mobility are maintained. These code changes have set Stafford County as a model both in the Commonwealth and the nation for the "institutionalization" of LID. FORs long term advocacy efforts that yielded code changes in Stafford County have made us very popular on the speaking circuit. We have received invitations for a keynote address at the upcoming National LID Conference; we are speaking at the National Association of Homebuilders Conference in Texas; and our director has been invited by the U.S. Agency for International Development to once again to travel to Southeast Asia to share our advocacy approach with nonprofit and governmental leaders. Funding: FOR Operational

Low Impact Development Tutorial and Tookit
In 2003 FOR developed a comprehensive CD-based tutorial and resource toolkit covering the concepts and practice of Low Impact Development. With requests for over 400 copies in the first 3 months, this resource has fast become the standard tool for LID education across the Commonwealth. The CD (now in its 3 rd revision) includes a narrated 1-hour slideshow that contains numerous pictures, design examples, and even sample calculations. Also on the disc are numerous text resources such as the national LID manuals, rain garden design specs, and example codes. Copies are available for $6 by calling the FOR office. Funding: Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation.

Town of Warsaw LID Code Development
In 2003 FOR and the LID Center developed a first-of-its-kind Low Impact Development code for a local government in Virginia. The code was developed for the Town of Warsaw, located along the Rappahannock in Virginia's Northern Neck. The Town saw the advantages of an LID approach, and wanted to shift development paradigms by establishing LID as the standard practice in the Town. In 2003, the Town adopted the LID ordinance as policy. The Town's LID ordinance makes LID the standard required approach for any new development in the locality. While other localities make LID optional and incentivised, this required approach is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth. Funding: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation - Small Watershed Grant.

Bioretention Promotion Project
In 2002, FOR completed a major project to develop resources for promoting the use of bioretention (rain gardens) in developments across the basin. The materials include technical resources and a bioretention tour . The project also included education and outreach meetings with numerous developers and local governments, several of which resulted in new bioretention projects. Funding: Virginia Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund

Celebrate Virginia Conservation Easement
2002 concluded with the recordation of a major 133 acre conservation easement along the banks of the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg. The easement ensures perpetual protection of one of the few previously unprotected segments of riparian buffer on the stretch of river between Fredericksburg and Culpeper. The easement was donated by the Silver Companies, and will serve as a buffer between the river and the new Celebrate Virginia development. FOR served as the broker and negotiator of the easement. The easement negotiations involved large amounts of time by FOR staff and board members in the field and at the table, working out details of the easement's extent, holdership, and allowable uses. The easement represents some of the best protection afforded to any riparian land in the watershed, and has the added protection of being exempt from state eminent domain, due to the fact that it is co-held by Virginia Outdoors Foundation. Funding: FOR Operational

Massaponax Creek Waterhsed Planning Study
Spotsylvania County's Massaponax Creek watershed is the fastest developing watershed in the County, and one of the fastest in the Commonwealth. In 2002, FOR completed a state-of-the-art analysis of the watershed and drafted a set of recommendations for management of the watershed in the future. The analysis included a detailed assessment of current impervious cover, based on high resolution aerial imagery. The analysis also projected impervious cover at buildout, based on the County's buildout data. FOR presented the results and recommendations of the study to the County's Planning Commission and we are currently working with County staff and officials to see that the study's recommendations are implemented in the coming months and years. These include various measures for establishing Low Impact Development as standard development practice in the County and the development of an open space plan for conservation of key natural areas in the watershed. Funding: Chesapeake Bay Program



Have you ever seen the river turn brown? When we explain it to kids, we say "the river looks like Chocolate Milk" - in reality, it's SEDIMENT POLLUTION. The river is filled with DIRT blocking out sunlight for plants, clogging the gills of fish, suffocating shellfish, and keeping us from enjoying a clean and clear river to swim and fish in.  Where is all this dirt coming from? Erosion - fast erosion that has been sped up by human activity.  Mainly it's coming from construction sites!  Construction storm water run-off is supposed to be regulated by both state and federal law, however many construction sites don't properly follow these "minimum standards," and inspectors are far fewer than necessary to effectively monitor every construction site. You can make a difference by participating in "Get the Dirt Out". You can learn how to recognize when "minimum standards" are not being properly followed - then you can bring it to FOR's attention and we'll do the rest. Help us fill in the gaps! We need more eyes. Only through the power of community can we truly protect our river from sediment pollution. Use the App if you have a Android or Samsung Smart Phone for easy picture taking and reporting. 

If you already have something to report, or you do not have an Android or Samsung Smart Phone,
you can text and/or email pictures of concern with a description of the location to:
Or contact Hannah von Oeyen at 540.373.3448 x 153 / to see how you can get involved.

See past areas of concern, or add your own:

Volunteer Monitors Sediment Mapper Login

(Volunteers login: User: Volunteer, Pwd:GTDO)

(administrator login)


Get the Dirt Out is a collaborative project to support localities in controlling and investigating stormwater runoff. By attending one of FOR’s training workshops; volunteers will learn to identify, evaluate and report construction sites contributing to sediment pollution in our waterways. 

Trained volunteers will become local monitors collecting crucial field observations, to be used in stopping pollution.

Get started by attending one of our upcoming trainings:

Please check our event calendar for the next training.







 TitleSize (Kb) Created DateDescription
Field Guide to spotting problems!2,466.77Download10/12/2012Keep this guide with you. Sometimes it's best to leave it in your car! The pictures will help you identify areas of concern. Contact information is included as well as an abbreviated list of the Minimum Standards.

Must complete all fields, please double check that your information is correct:


Video Produced by Fran Burst, Burst Video/Film, Inc. for the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

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