On Sunday, I was one of 90 volunteers who participated in an event at the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport.
It was a gorgeous day, up to 70 degrees and sunny, following several days of soaking rain that left the ground nice and soft — perfect for tree planting. The Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO) and the Rivanna Conservation Society (RCS) hosted a riparian buffer planting event, in cooperation with the County of Albemarle, VA Department of Forestry and Alliance for the Chesapeake. Grant funding support was provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation in addition to the Airport.
We all paid close attention as members of the VA Department of Forestry and Alliance for the Chesapeake instructed us on the proper way to plant the trees. Fortunately, volunteers had assembled the day before to stake the entire area so it would be ready for planting.
Chris French, from the Alliance for the Chesapeake, demonstrated how once our seedling was planted, a photodegradable tube should be placed over it, to protect the seedling from being an appetizer for the many critters that inhabit the area. Over the top of the tube we were instructed to place a net, to protect birds from getting down inside the tube and being unable to escape.
One volunteer asked why this planting was necessary; why couldn’t the Airport just stop mowing the land and let nature take its course? The answer: The seedlings planted will take root and grow faster than nature would progress, helping to inhibit erosion and runoff into the Rivanna. The planting also allows us to have control over what varieties of trees grow on the property — it’s necessary for trees of shorter heights to grow on the land which is within an appropriate distance from the runway, but nevertheless, according to FAA regulations, need to be below a certain height for aircraft visibility.
A great, enthusiastic group of volunteers spent most of the day planting.
There were environmentally conscious families, school kids, conservationists, teenagers, fans of the Airport and Airport staff who turned out for the event.
This is Robin — she’s a local artist who was hoping for inspiration for a painting while she planted trees.
Without a doubt, this little guy was everyone’s favorite volunteer. He worked just as hard as the big people and really, I don’t think we could have done it without him.
At the end of the day we’d made new friends, enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch provided by Hotcakes, planted more than 1,300 trees and left a little corner of our planet a better place.