Rebuilding a trout habitat

Early last Saturday, some 30 volunteers showed up at the lower end of Cliff Miller’s Mount Vernon Farm in Sperryville for a brief trek to a stretch of the Thornton River where 230 native trees and shrubs were to be planted.

The volunteers, organized by Trout Unlimited (TU) and Fairfax-based Earth Sangha, came from across the area and such local and regional organizations as RappFLOW, the Piedmont Environmental Council and Miller’s trout fishing club, to plant sycamore, black willow, hickory, American chestnut, red and white oak, dogwood and other trees on the banks of the Thornton.

Biologist Nat Gillespie had walked the area for TU several months ago and found that existing riparian buffer conservation programs on Miller’s property and others upstream — and last year’s removal of the only remaining dam between the Chesapeake and the Thornton’s headwaters — had already made it a habitat suitable for brook trout and other species. But some additional native ground cover could, he concluded, hurry the process of restoring the habitat.

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