Going Native! Part II

Merrimac Farm a model for homeowners to emulate

In my last blog, I explained how going native – homeowners using native plants to replace some or all of their lawn – was beneficial to the environment, and listed a couple of web sites with ideas to help them get started.

Today’s focus is on a program right here in Prince William County that can provide homeowners with information, ideas, and hands-on experience in working with native plants.

Prince William Conservation Alliance has begun a conservation landscape project at Merrimac Farm, a 302-acre Wildlife Management Area located in Nokesville.  It includes more than 100 acres of contiguous wetlands protected by 200 acres of hardwood forests and upland meadows, at the headwaters of the Occoquan Reservoir.

Yesterday (9/24), more than a dozen enthusiastic volunteers gathered for a work day to spread compost in preparation for the first planting day on October 15.  Rain was forecast, but the weather stayed clear as shovels and rakes flew and wheelbarrows dashed from the compost pile to the dumping site and back again.  Spirits were high among the volunteers as we saw the tangible results of our work spread across the backyard of the Old Stone House.  All of the PWCA volunteers are knowledgeable about the natural world, Prince William County specifically, and are happy to share their knowledge with others.

The purpose of the Merrimac project is to enhance wildlife habitat, reduce pollution and conserve water on the property by planting the area around the Old Stone House entirely in native plants. This project expands natural areas to reduce the invasion of non-native grasses and increases the variety of food and habitat sources to welcome a wider variety of wildlife – the same goals that a homeowner might have.

The plan includes a planting scheme that will provide areas to attract birds and butterflies, a wetland pool, an upland meadow and a moist meadow, with trails for access to each area.  A unique aspect of the Merrimac Farm Conservation Landscape Project is that it is a demonstration project, meaning that it is open to the public for the purpose of showing how everyone, including homeowners, can do their part to protect and improve their little patch of nature.

You will find a diagram of the plan, the planting list, and ways for the public to help here.

This is a large project that will be implemented over several years.  There will be frequent future work days and many volunteers will be needed for a successful outcome.

And, of course, there will be opportunities for you to bring your family to observe the progress of the landscape conservation project and pick up tips and information about going native with your piece of the planet.

Click here for directions to Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area, 15020 Deepwood Lane, Nokesville, Virginia.

Click here to Like PWCA’s Facebook page and view pictures of yesterday’s work crew!

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