Middle and Upper Watershed




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 / hannah.vonoeyen@riverfriends.org 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


      Our Low Impact Development Program

Rainscape Retrofits.


Read about our Rainscape Retrofits in the Free Lance - Star

About the program.

Stormwater runoff is the leading cause of river pollution in the Rappahannock River and it is a serious problem in the Fredericksburg area.  Traditional storm water management is based on getting storm water out of our roads, sidewalks, and home properties as fast as possible, but this technique skips the purification and dispersion process that should be part of the natural cycle.  Due to urban development, construction, agriculture, and compacted grass lawns at home, there are not enough permeable surfaces to catch, soak in, and spread out storm water. Stormwater runoff today carries excess phosphorous, sediment, bacteria and other pathogens, debris, and household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids into our river. Stormwater runoff also carries excess nitrogen (a nutrient commonly found in fertilizers), air particles, and car exhaust that will cause algae to overpopulate.  When algae decompose, oxygen is sucked out of the water creating dead zones or “dead water” where nothing can live. The volume of dead water in the Rappahannock is seven times the amount of dead water in all the other Virginia rivers combined.

We can help combat this by implementing Low Impact Development retrofits at home, or "Rainscape Retrofits." While agriculture is the leading contributor to excess nutrient waste, residential sources make up a majority of urban/suburban nutrient load and other pollutant load contributors.  Retrofits can be rain gardens, downspout disconnection, soil amendments, soil aeration, deep soil decompaction, and rain barrels.  Rainscape Retrofits are not only better for the environment, but they are better for a yard.  Catching all that rain water will keep yards and home gardens healthy and beautiful.

Friends of the Rappahannock are providing a rainscape retrofit building tool kit to residents in the Fredericksburg and surrounding county areas so residents can have Low Impact Developments installed with ease on their home property. While many people express great enthusiasm for building a rain garden, once they sit down to plan one, they are often intimidated by the process.  Our kit breaks down these barriers and provides homeowners an easy, cost effective way to install rain gardens, rain barrels, and other retrofits on their property. We come and build rain gardens for you!

What is a "Rainscape Retrofit?"
It is..... We offer assistance for different types of Retrofits for your home: rain gardens, downspout disconnection, soil amendment, soil aeration, deep soil decompaction, and rain barrels/cisterns.

Rain Gardens
A rain garden is an attractive native plant growth, a garden of sorts, with a special purpose: to reduce the amount of polluted storm water that rushes into our streams and rivers and to filter storm water before returning it to groundwater.
PDF: Rain Garden, A Northern Virginia Homeowner's Guide
Citation: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District

Downspout Disconnection
You can disconnect your downspouts from existing standpipes and let it flow over landscaped areas or lawns.  Disconnection can be a low-maintenance option to help move water away from building foundations and allow it to soak into the ground, reducing runoff.  Disconnecting includes cutting the downspout; attaching elbows, extensions, and splashblocks to direct the water to flow away from the house; plugging the standpipe; and securing the materials to existing structures.
PDF: Downspout Disconnection
Citation: James River Association

Soil Amendment
Soil restoration is an Environmental Site Design (ESD) practice applied after construction, to deeply till compacted soils and restore their porosity by amending them with compost. These soil amendments can reduce the generation of runoff from compacted urban lawns and may also be used to enhance the runoff reduction performance of downspout disconnections, grass channels, and filter strips.
PDF: Soil Amendment
Citation: Virginia DCR

Soil Aeration
Lawn aeration involves the removal of small soil plugs or cores out of the lawn with a machine.  Known as a core aerator, it extracts 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter cores of soil and deposits them on your lawn.  Other types of aerators push solid spikes or tines into the soil without removing a plug (spiking). These are not as effective because they can contribute to compaction. Core aeration is a recom­mended lawn care practice on compacted, heavily used turf and to control thatch buildup. It allows your compacted soil to breathe and enhance infiltration of rainfall.
Citation: Virginia Cooperative Extension

Deep Soil Decompaction
Over time, lawns become extremely compacted and impervious. Decompacting the soil in your lawn will increase permeability, thus catching and soaking in more run off when it rains. This can be a big project.
PDF: Deep Decompaction
Citation: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The use of rain barrels is an inexpensive way to decrease storm water runoff, conserve water for garden and lawn use, and save money on your water bill. The barrels are placed under gutter downspouts or where roof lines end and water runs off. A single rain barrel can save about 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months.
PDF: Rainbarrels and Cisterns
Citation: James City County VA

Check out other ways to get invloved!
We sell Rain Barrels at FOR! And did you know that skipping the fertilizer till fall is better for the river AND for your lawn?
Click bellow!


I want a Rainscape Retrofit for my home!

Please contact me.


Bioretention Demos at Lancaster Primary School

In the Fall of 2010 we constructed 4 bioretention cells (rain gardens) at Lancaster Primary School in Virginia's Northern Neck.  The school drains to the Currutoman River, a tributary to the Rappahannock.  The project was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and was a partnership with the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District and the Northern Neck Master Gardeners.  For more details contact john.tippett@riverfriends.org.


Living Shoreline Demo in Deltaville

 In September 2010 we funded and help construct a demonstration "Living Shoreline under a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  The site is the beginning of our Living Shorelines initiative in the tidal Rappahannock where we hope to use a "pay it forward" model to involve riverfront homeowner volunteers in restoring shorelines across the tidal Rappahannock.


River Clean Ups
Our annual Spring and Fall cleanups make a significant positive impact for the river. Typically over 300 individuals participate in each clean-up and collect over 6,000 pounds of trash from accessible river banks over a 15 mile stretch of river.  We partner with Mountain View High School Learn & Serve students in organizing the cleanups each year. 

Water Intake Visual Buffer Plantings
FOR has established vegetated buffers at the new water intakes for Motts Run Reservoir in Fredericksburg and Hunting Run Reservoir in Spotsylvania County. Scores of FOR volunteers planted both deciduous and conifer trees and shrubs to create a visual buffer between the river and the pumphouse structures. Other FOR volunteers have assumed the watering tasks for the large numbers of trees throughout drought periods, and helped successfully treat a nasty blight that threatened the plant stock. Funding: FOR operational, County of Spotsylvania, Pinelands Nursery.  

Linden Farm Conservation Easement/Restoration
Culminating over a year of work by FOR and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), a 118 acre conservation easement was recorded on Linden Farm in Orange County. The easement is made up of forested stream buffers that traverse this 1,000+ acre livestock operation in the Rapidan river's rolling Piedmont watershed. FOR brought CBF and the landowner together to negotiate the major part of the easement. FOR wrote another grant proposal to fund the purchase of easement on the remaining acreage, plus to install livestock exclusion fencing. Linden Farm is now one of the best examples in the region of an economically viable livestock operation that is also on the leading edge of water quality protection.  

Livestock Exclusion Fencing - Stream Buffer Protection

FOR continues to make significant progress in our riparian restoration and livestock exclusion fencing program. In partnership with the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District, two significant reaches of headwater streams were protected from livestock access via new fencing in 2002. These areas will also be restored with buffer plantings. Funding: Various state and federal grants, Corps of Engineers, Virginia Wetland Mitigation Trust Fund.


Phragmites Control
Phragmites (frag-my-teez) is an exotic, invasive species that has destroyed the habitat value of vast acreages of wetlands along the East Coast. FOR assisted the Rappahannock Phragmites Action Committee in combatting the invasive species on private lands in the lower tidal Rappahannock. FOR applied for and received a grant to assist the committee in funding a large aerial spraying operation which eradicated the plant on several hundred acres of tidal marsh. This is allowing native plants to return to the wetlands and restore the historic productivity and ecological integrity of the lower Rappahannock wetlands.  


volunteers.JPGFOR is looking for core volunteers to help us manage and restore the FOR natural area located at our headquarters in Fredericksburg, along the Rappahannock River.  Volunteers primarily will be involved in controlling invasive species (click here for more information about invasive species), maintaining trails, planting native trees, and helping pick-up trash from the river.  There will also be opportunities for mapping and monitoring invasive plants.  Volunteers can help organize and lead work days throughout the year, recruit new volunteers, and help advertise our Rappahannock Restore Corps events.

volunteer2.JPGInvasive Species - Volunteer stewards will learn about Virginia’s native plants and ecosystems as well as invasive species that have been introduced to the area.  Volunteers typically derive a great sense of pride and accomplishment in helping to restore native ecosystems.  Furthermore, participating in ecological restoration activities will provide a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy fresh air and exercise.


If you would like to get involved in FOR's stewardship program or would like more information contact us at (540) 373-3448 or andrew.orr@riverfriends.org



Program A (1.5 hrs):

·         Walking the Path of the American Indian – Discover how American Indians used nature to provide all their food, shelter, and water. Make pottery and experience the American Indian oral tradition with a story that still applies today.   

Program B (1.5 hrs):

·         Walk like the Animals - Use your senses to discover how the forest and river provide a good place for animals to live.

Program C (1.5 hrs):

·         Water Properties – Why does the river look different at different times? Little scientists will love to experiment with this question while learning about our beloved Rappahannock River.




Kindergarten and 1st Grade: 


Program A (3.5 hrs):

2010 Science SOL’s: K.1, K.2, K.4, K.6, K.7, K.9, 1.1, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8

·         River Investigation Hike – Investigate the river habitat with your senses – observing, describing, and charting. Discover how animals use their senses for survival.

·         Trees – Gain a better understanding of tree parts, trees as a resource, and why trees are so important to our river.

·         Life in the River Habitat – Explore many different plants and animals along the river and discover why they live next to the river.

Program B (3.5 hrs):

2010 Science SOL’s: K.1, K.5, K.6, K.7, K.9, 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8

·         Aquatic Arthropods in Action– These tiny creatures are extremely important to the river ecosystem. Discover the secret lives of our little friends living in the river through a series of investigative dry-land activities. 

·         Water Properties –What can the river tell us about the properties of water? Conduct an experiment to find out!




 2nd and 3rd Grades:


Program A (3.5 hrs):

2010 Science SOL’s: 2.1, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 2.8, 3.1, 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10

·         Wetlands: Snowden and Beyond – Hike to a wetland ecosystem, learning about plants and animals along the way. Deduce how wetlands help wildlife and the river.

·         Just Around the River Bend – Explore the diversity of plant and animal life, their inter-dependency, and their relationship with the river.

·         Water Cycle Game or Food Web Game (choose 1) – Both of these activities cover important topical vocabulary disguised as a fun game!

Program B (3.5 hrs.):

2010 Science SOL’s: 2.1, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 2.8, 3.1, 3.4, 3.6, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10; History and Social Science SOL’s: 2.2, 2.4, 2.6

·         Signs of Seasonal Change – Why do the leaves change colors and drop from some trees? How do animals survive during winter? Collect and analyze evidence of seasonal change to answer these and other questions.

·         Rappahannock Connections - Discover how the Rappahannocks, an American Indian Tribe of the Eastern Woodlands, used their natural resources to meet life needs.  Investigate their respect for nature through pottery, artifacts, and oral tradition.



4th and 5th Grades:



Program A (3.5 hrs):

2010 Science SOL’s: 4.1, 4.5, 4.9, 5.1, 5.7

·         We All Live Downstream - Deduce the benefits of riparian buffer zones along our river, discuss erosion and pollution’s impact, and propose solutions.

·         What is a watershed? – Where does the water go? Manipulate a model of a watershed to better understand human impacts on ecosystems.

·         Commit to Conserve – Find out how you can protect our waterways and commit to an action that will help.

Program B (3.5 hrs):

History and Social Science SOL’s: VS.1, VS.2, VS.3, VS.4, VS.6; USI.1, USI.2, USI.3; 2010 Science SOL’s: 4.5, 4.9, 5.7

·         Survivor: John Smith - Visit the northwest extent of John Smith’s exploration of the Rappahannock, comparing Virginia resources now and then. Through tasks and role playing, simulate the Jamestown settlers’ effort to survive and fulfill responsibilities to the Virginia Company and the King.   

·         Rappahannock Connections - Discover how the Rappahannocks, an American Indian Tribe of the Eastern Woodlands, adapted to their environment and used their natural resources.  Investigate their respect for nature through pottery, artifacts, and oral tradition.   




6th through 12th Grades:  


(can be adapted for collegiate/adult participants)

Program A (3.5 hrs):

2010 Science SOL’s: 6.1, 6.5, 6.7, 6.9; LS.1, LS.4, LS.6, LS.8, LS.9, LS.10, LS.11; ES.1, ES.2, ES.6, ES.8, ES.10; Environmental Science; Ecology

·         Water Quality and Protection – Students will perform both biological and chemical water quality tests. Biological tests include benthic macro invertebrate sampling; chemical tests include data collection via handheld digital probeware and traditional chemical tests.

·         Riparian Buffer Hike or Wetlands Hike (choose 1) – Students will learn why these ecosystems are important by investigating their impact on our watershed.         

Program B (3.5 hrs)

2010 Science SOL’s: 6.7, 6.9; LS.11; ES.6; Civics: CE.1, CE.9; Environmental Science; Ecology

·         Environmental Literacy and Ethics – How do you interact with the environment when no one is looking? How do your environmental ethics compare to those of your peers? Students learn how to advocate for environmental issues they care about.

  • Conserving the Natural Landscape – Students play the role of key stakeholders in a mock public hearing about land rights issued through a conservation easement. Learn how easements work and why they are a valuable



 Additional Programs:



·         Nature Journaling (appropriate for 2nd-8th grades) - Discover the value of natural places using science, history, and art.  Hone your observation skills and record nature along the scenic Rappahannock River. 

·         River Safety (appropriate for 3rd-8th grades) - Learn to evaluate river safety conditions in order to enjoy the river safely. Interactive and hands-on, but all on dry land. Health SOL’s: 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 7.1, 7.2, 8.1

·         Snorkeling (8 yrs. and up) – Investigate how water quality, invasive species, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification affect food chains and webs. Identify fish, aquatic insects, and aquatic vegetation. 2010 Science SOL’s: 3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 4.1, 4.4, 4.5, 4.9, 5.1, 5.5, 6.1, 6.5, 6.7, 6.9; Environmental Science; Ecology; LS.6, LS.8, LS.9, LS.19

·         Water Quality Testing by Canoe/Kayak (12 yrs. and up) –Collect water samples from different tributaries of the Rappahannock by canoe/kayak. Complete chemical water quality tests of the different samples to compare and analyze.

·         Fishing (8 yrs. and up) – Learn fishing/river safety and “Leave No Trace” fishing basics. Eye protection is required (sunglasses or safety glasses work well). Group size is limited to 15.




Program Fees 

  • $6 per child/student (snorkeling and boating prices vary, call for details)
  • $50 registration fee (will be applied to the $6/child fee for the program)
  • Payment balance due the day of the program unless prior arrangements have been made
  • Minimum group visit $60
  • Adult chaperones are free
  • Special arrangements may be possible for groups where cost would otherwise prevent participation

    Please Note…

  • You will receive a confirmation letter when scheduled
  • Please let us know of special needs and we will try to accommodate them
  • All programs include river and trail safety instruction
  • Programs may be altered during inclement weather

Adult chaperones are free, Please limit chaperones to no more than 1 per 5 children. Exceptions to the maximum chaperone limit are special needs children, home school, small preK and scout groups.  No siblings, please.    


Cancellation Policy

Classes are conducted rain or shine unless weather is a safety issue.  We will contact you as soon as possible to notify you of cancellation.  If you wish to cancel a program, please do so at least 4 weeks prior to your scheduled program in order to receive a registration fee refund.     

Directions to Field Trip Sites

Friends of the Rappahannock - River's Edge Nature Preserve 3219 Fall Hill Avenue, Fredericksburg

From I95:  Exit at 133A- Falmouth. Follow road to Rte 1-right at light onto Rte 1 S.  Go over the bridge (look at the great view of the river), to second light, right on Fall Hill Ave., past houses, past bend in river, right into Virginia Outdoor Center/Friends of the Rappahannock.   

Westmoreland Berry Farm 1235 Berry Farm Road, Colonial Beach

From I95: Exit at Route 3 East. The farm is approximately 35 miles East of Fredericksburg Follow Route 3 East to the Intersection on Route 3 and Route 301 Continue on Route 3 for approximately 7.5 miles, enter Westmoreland County Turn right onto Claymont Road (Rt. 634) Follow Claymont Road (Rt. 634) for approximately 1 mile Turn Right on to Rappahannock Road (Rt. 637) Follow Rappahannock Road (Rt. 637) for approximately 2.5 miles Will see a Berry Farm sign on the right next to Berry Farm Lane Turn right on to Berry Farm Lane Follow the road back to the Farm Market   


Questions & Registration

Friends of the Rappahannock 3219 Fall Hill Ave Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Tel: 540-373-3448 ext. 115 Fax: (540) 373-8111 Web: www.riverfriends.org Email: education@riverfriends.org    


 TitleModified DateSize (Kb) 
Contact Information and Waiver for Homeschool10/8/2009106.96Download
                                                                Scouts can participate in any of the regular youth programs or they can work on specific scout badges/beltloops/pins.* Our scout programs are designed to meet scouting requirements for the achievements.





EcoExplorer Brownie Girl Scout Badge

Brownies investigate the river and woods habitat discovering the interactions of plants and animals with their environment.  Complete badge.


Earth and Sky Brownie Girl Scout Badge

The soil and the sky are essential to all life.  Explore the wildlife living in both. Complete badge. 


Earth Connections Junior Girl Scout  Badge

Junior girl scouts delve deeper into the woodland ecosystem learning to more about interactions of plants and animals with their environment as well and plant identification and medicinal uses.  Complete badge.


Wildlife  Junior Girl Scout Badge

Take a closer look at wildlife investigating  adaptations, poisonous plants, and animal habitat and behavior. Complete badge.


Wildlife Conservation Cub Scout Belt Loop and Pin

While visiting the Friends of the Rappahannock cub scouts will explore a variety of natural resource concepts including the food chain and camouflage and conservation.  To complete this belt loop and pin, scouts will need to learn about and report on an endangered species to their den.


Fishing Cub Scout Sports Pin and Belt Loop

Scouts will learn how to cast, bait a hook with live bait and lures, and then go fishing.  A review of the fishing regulation book will complete the Belt Loop requirements and  put them  well on their way to the Fishing Pin. (allow 2 hours)


River Safety:Although this is not a specific scout badge, it is popular with troops because it teaches scouts valuable skills and is the basis for many of the scouting water activity achievements. Learn how to read the river to evaluate safety conditions and to enjoy the river safely; interactive hands-on activities all on dry land.  River levels and weather permitting, we take the scouts in the river to practice what they have learned.




Programs are conducted at the Virginia Outdoor Center on Fall Hill Ave, Fredericksburg.  They last 1 ½ hours unless otherwise noted, and  cost $6 per scout, minimum $60 per program.   See the education brochure for more details.  For reservations call 373-3448 or email education@riverfriends.org 


*The requirements for each badge/loop are met as indicated, but the actual patch, loop, or pin is not provided. Patches should be ordered through your unit or pack.

Rising 1st and 2nd graders
Junior River Rangers spend their mornings exploring along the banks of the Rappahannock River! Learn about the plants and animals that make their homes in and around the river. Play games, meet new friends, hike, make sandcastles, and much more! If you like to get dirty and spend time outdoors, this camp is for you! *Please note: Junior River Rangers may get wet, but do not get in the river.
9am-1pm:  July 16-20, 2012 or August 13-17, 2012  


$85 FOR members, $100 non-members
Email: education@riverfriends.org Phone: (540) 373-3448

Rising 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders
River Rangers spend their days hiking, swimming, tubing, rafting, snorkeling, fishing, playing in the woods, and more! Learn about the Rappahannock River while playing in it. If you like to get wet while learning 
about our natural world, spend a week at FOR!
9am-3pm: July 23-27, 2012 or August 6-10, 2012

Cost: $160 FOR members, $185 non-members
Email: education@riverfriends.org or Phone: (540) 373-3448

Rising 6th, 7th and 8th graders
River Rats, our oldest campers, will kayak, hike, swim, tube, snorkel, fish, and more! Hang out with new and old friends while learning about river recreation, wilderness survival skills, and how to help protect the Rappahannock River.  If you want an outdoor challenge this summer, then this camp is for you!
9am-3pm:  June 25-29, 2012

$160 FOR members, $185 non-members
Email: education@riverfriends.org Phone: (540) 373-3448



We are happy to offer summer field trip opportunities for your center at Friends of the Rappahannock! Bring your group down to the river for an educational and fun outdoor experience. Our age-appropriate environmental education programs are the perfect compliment to your summer program! Preschool and school age programs are available.
Choose from one of the following programs or call to arrange a program to match your summer themes.

Animals by the River – Students will learn about life in and around the river by participating in interactive games, scavenger hunts, crafts, and more!

Water, Water Everywhere – Students will participate in interactive games, activities, and crafts that cover river safety, the water cycle, and the importance of protecting our waterways.

Programs run from 9:30-11:30am or 12:30-2:30pm. An additional 30 min. can be added the beginning/end if you would like to have lunch at the river. (We have a covered picnic area.)  *Four hour programs based on our regular school field trip programs can also be arranged for an additional fee. For a listing of these programs, please see www.riverfriends.org.

Price: $6/child, minimum of ten children ($60) per group. Maximum group size is 25 per program. Available dates are limited and will fill up quickly. Deposit of $60 is due by June 1, 2010 to reserve your trip. Registration after June 1 available as space allows.

I hope to see your group down at the river this summer! Call to register today!

Commit to Conserve is a program developed by Friends of the Rappahannock to engage children in personal action to preserve both the quantity and the quality of water that flows from the mountains, down the Rappahannock River and to the Chesapeake Bay.  Our goal is to empower the children to have a personal impact on their environment and to extend the impact of the field time they spend here at the Rappahannock River.  We hope you will find this program useful in your interactions with children.  There is also a version for families. This program was funded by a grant from CarMax.


You may select an action to conserve water quantity or quality.  Examples are turning off water while brushing teeth or washing hands, taking shorter showers, or using one paper towel rather than many. Families may choose to compost rather than using their disposal, wash the car on the grass instead of pavement, or collect the water that runs while waiting for the hot shower water and use it to water plants.  There are plenty of other ideas you can find on the internet or in our Livable Neighborhoods program.  Fill out a Pledge Card, and then print a tracking picture to put on your refrigerator. Pledge Card and tracking picture are below for you to download.  Every time you do one action to help the river, fill out one ripple in the picture to help the water get from the mountains to the bay.  

 TitleCategoryModified DateSize (Kb) 
Tracking Form 3/6/2009938.44Download
Pledge Card 3/6/2009190.33Download

What is a livable neighborhood?
 Imagine a neighborhood where the attractive landscape invites you to stroll down the street.  The bushes and trees are used as a water-purifying filter.  There are fewer toxic pesticides for your children and grandchildren to ingest when they play outside.  Neighbors know more about each other than the make of their car or where they work.  A Livable Neighborhood is a place you want to be.
This Livable Neighborhood and the river are directly linked.  The same actions that make our neighborhoods safer, healthier and prettier also restore the rivers and streams.  Our water resources are being harmed by our daily lifestyle choices.  How we live threatens the drinking supplies, the recreational uses and beauty of our rivers.  A Livable Neighborhood is only possible in the long-term if we have healthy rivers and groundwater. 

How does the program work?
We will give you materials, training and ongoing support to be a leader in your community.  Each step of the way, our staff will be there for you.  Together we will build a team of your neighbors who will meet 4 times.  This team selects from 32 step-by-step actions in a workbook designed to improve the water quality and water efficiency of each household.  None of these activities are difficult or new.  the program simply gives you the extra motivation and support to ensure you actually complete them.  Some examples include:
-  Reducing toxic products in your home
- Reducing the use of weed killers and fertilizers on your lawn
- Mulching grass
- Washing your car with the least impact
- Installing a rain barrel and other water saving devices
See the workbook section below for more details descriptions of the activities. 
Be part of the solution and become a Team Leader.  Contact Daria Blom 540-373-3448x115 or education@riverfriends.org for more information or to sign up for the team leader training
What do the team leaders do?
Team leaders work with the staff to gather and motivate the neighborhood team.  You will attend one 4-hour training session and host 4 gatherings with your neighbors.  The staff will be with you every step of the way. 
Teams are forming now.  Team Leader trainings are happening now!  Contact Daria Blom at 540-373-3448 x115 or education@riverfriends.org to sign up.


FOR partners with the University of Mary Washington to do an environmental education internship during the fall and spring semesters.  It's a fun chance for students with junior or senior standing to try teaching!  We visit area 4th grade classes to teach about water quality and conservation, along with other environmental science concepts.  For more information, please contact Cassie Pallai at cassie.pallai@riverfriends.org or 540-373-3448 x 118.

Nature Adventure Packs is a new and growing program started by FOR education staff.  The NAPs are themed children's school backpacks filled with books, field guides, natural objects--such as rock collections and tree samples--as well as tools for exploring nature--like binoculars and bug viewers.  They are available free for check out through library systems.  So far, we have 9 packs in the Central Rappahannock Regional Library:
                  Nature at Night                        Butterfly Bonanza
                  Mammal Mania                        Rocks and Minerals
                  Creepy Crawlies                       Feathers in Flight
                  Reptiles and Amphibians          Woodland Wonders
                  A River Journey
We also are working to expand the program to the upper and lower regions of the Rappahannock watershed.  Check back in the coming months to see if your library has been added!

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