Less Divots to the Bay

Less Divots to the Bay

Mount Vernon Country Club received a $25,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in recognition of its initiative to stabilize eroding stream banks to improve water quality in Dogue Creek Watershed and ultimately the Potomac River. The club also invested nearly $300,000 of its own funds on the effort.

"The primary issue was to cut down on silt flowing into the river and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay. That also impacts fish spawning" said Michael Bond, club board member.

Assisting in the effort was Del. Kristen J. Amundson (D-44). "I was very happy to work on this project. The club was trying to do the right thing. I just broke some bureaucratic log jams," she said.

"We had to get permits from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Fairfax County. That took two years before we could do it," Bond said.

"Most of the work was bank shaping. Erosion was widening the stream and taking soil down stream. This enabled us to halt that," said Ken Barlow, president, Mount Vernon Country Club. Amundson, Barlow and Bond were joined on the stream bank by Pete Van Pelt, general manager, MVCC, and Ron Fitzsimmons, staff aide to Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland.

The award is part of the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed grants program.

As one tool of a multistate consortium, allied with the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the grant program, which provides funds ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, helps local organizations undertake voluntary improvements to streams, fisheries, submerged vegetation, wetlands, and water quality.

"The urbanization upstream from the club over the past 50 years has steadily increased the amount of water in the streams. As streets, sidewalks, and driveways replaced open land, the increased runoff has steadily eroded the stream banks. Members used to be able to jump over the creek 30 years ago. Now it's 40 feet wide," Van Pelt said.

Restoration procedures involved shaping vertical banks into stable slopes, then placing biodegradable mats made of coconut fiber over the newly shaped banks to temporarily hold the soil in place. Long term stability occurs from native vegetation and grasses planted on the slopes that will grow through the mats.

"This project helps everyone. We stop losing parts of the golf course and the water quality is improved downstream," said Barlow.