About Reedy Creek Environmental
Reedy Creek Environmental was created in 2016 to address the scarcity of native plants of local ecotype in the metro Richmond, VA area. As described below, the recognition of this local need evolved over many years and grew directly out of my concern for water quality
During the previous 15 years, I was employed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and spent most of those years as an aquatic biologist performing ecological assessments of freshwater streams. Over time, I found myself summarizing my primary work function as “documenting the deterioration of Virginia streams.” And there was precious little progress in improving the streams identified as “impaired”.
In an effort to contribute to the actual improvement of Virginia’s water resources, I joined others in the local community to form the Reedy Creek Coalition in 2008. From the beginning, the Reedy Creek Coalition was committed to addressing the root causes of water quality problems in Reedy Creek. As an urban watershed, that meant reducing polluted runoff from rooftops, parking lots, lawns, and other sources of stormwater runoff. The Reedy Creek Coalition partnered with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to create a watershed protection program for private property owners. (This comprehensive approach to solving stormwater issues one property at a time lives on as the Alliance’s RiverWise program.)
The original pilot program highly encouraged vegetative solutions to stormwater problems such as rain gardens, Bayscapes, and tree planting. And native plants were emphasized because of their benefits to water quality as well as to enhancing the health and diversity of terrestrial habitats. During implementation of the watershed protection program, members of the Reedy Creek Coalition discovered Earth Sangha, a non-profit organization in northern Virginia, devoted to supplying native plants of local ecotype.
Earth Sangha collects seeds from healthy populations of local native plants, germinates the seeds, and then sells the plants in the local community. Earth Sangha also provides plants for a variety of habitat restoration projects. The key is that Earth Sangha plants are direct descendants of local plants adapted to the climate and soils of northern Virginia. By contrast, most nurseries selling native plants have no idea about the history of the plants and where the parents “grew up”. Reedy Creek Environmental is modeled after Earth Sangha and I am indebted to Lisa Bright, co-founder of Earth Sangha, for her inspiration, knowledge, and support. Earth Sangha is now 15 years old and offers over 300 species of native plants.
It is clearly beneficial to grow native plants that are “as local as possible”. Members of the metro Richmond community will now be able to buy plants derived from seeds of known origin from Reedy Creek Environmental. In most cases, plant sources will be identified by watershed, ecoregion, and county/city and will be derived from healthy populations within 50 miles of Richmond.
In addition to being a source for native plants of local ecotype, Reedy Creek Environmental also provides educational services and resource assessments. I have provided presentations to Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners, and the Richmond Tree Stewards for many years and want to continue promoting the importance of conservation landscaping with native plants.
As a certified aquatic macroinvertebrate taxonomist (Society for Freshwater Science certification) and former DEQ biologist, I can provide professional assessments of freshwater streams throughout Virginia. In particular, I am interested in working with volunteer watershed groups to provide low-cost monitoring of their local waters.