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Virginia CZM Program: 2016 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo

14

Grantee:

George Washington Regional Commission

Project Title:

Cedell Brooks Jr. Park Demo Garden

Project Description:

This grant to the George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC) will fund the installation of a native plant demonstration garden at Cedell Brooks Jr. Park owned by King George County. With previous NOAA funding from Virginia CZM (FY 15 Task 47), GWRC brought together partners to collaborate and develop a strategy that will increase use of native plants on private properties and help preserve existing native vegetation in the Greater Rappahannock region. GWRC received additional NOAA funding from the Virginia CZM Program to implement the “Plant Central Rappahannock Natives” campaign (FY 16, Task 50).

The demonstration garden produced under this grant will advance the goal of the “Plant Central Rappahannock Natives” campaign. Encouraging citizens to increase and maintain native vegetation for its ecological and aesthetic benefits is essential to protecting the ecological integrity of the Central Rappahannock region.  The garden and interpretive signage will convey the message that native plants have adapted to the local environment and have numerous environmental benefits including requiring little irrigation beyond normal rainfall, and little to no fertilizer and pesticide use. Additionally, native plants absorb stormwater runoff and nutrients which helps to protect water quality. And they provide critical wildlife habitats since many species of Virginia wildlife rely exclusively upon native flora to provide food and shelter.

King George County owns over 33 acres of land off of Route 205 which once included a 17.5 acre landfill. The landfill has been removed and after years of monitoring this area, the County began transforming the land into a park. The County officially opened Shiloh Park in 2013 and recently renamed it Cedell Brooks, Jr. Park to honor the retirement of long-standing Board of Supervisor member Cedell Brooks Jr.

King George provided the initial site development which included a baseball/softball field, a multipurpose field, a walking path, a parking lot, and playground equipment. Several community driven projects have also taken place to further enhance Brooks Park including a flag pole by Post 89 of the American Legion, Little Free Standing Library by a King George homeschool based group, bat boxes as an Eagle Scout project, wetland nature observation decks, and wetland identification interpretative signs.

This demonstration garden aligns with the Parks and Recreation Department’s mission to “To effectively deliver services by providing diverse and balanced recreation programs and facilities that incorporate the needs, interests and desires of our citizens. With citizens’ support and involvement and interactive utilization of facility, community and natural resources we contribute to maintaining community character, enhancing community spirit and developing partnerships between private enterprises, civic organizations and individuals; hence, reaching out enhancing lives and contributing to community livability.” In addition, the County envisions Brooks Park to be an educational, discovery and demonstration facility where visitors could learn through observation and hands-on experiences flora, fauna and conservation practices that may be applied at home.

The Plant Central Rappahannock Natives  Garden would  be  located at the west side of the parking lot along the existing trail (outlined in the aerial image at right). A design concept has been drawn by a local landscape designer at no cost to the project, with input from the Plant Central Rapp Natives Campaign regional team. The design lays out distinct sections, connected by pathways, to illustrate native plant groupings and layering for specific landscaping themes and growing conditions, such as rain gardens, meadow gardens, wetland areas, and planting for pollinators. All 72 native plant species to be installed in the demo garden are featured in the regional native plant guide “Native Plants for Central Rappahannock Virginia”, published by the campaign.

This grant would also fund installation of an entrance sign, partner acknowledgement sign and interpretive signage, as well as plant ID markers. The plant ID markers include a description and engraved drawing of the plant and the Plant Central Rapp Natives campaign logo and a QR code linking smart phone users to a downloadable copy of the regional plant guide - https://www.plantvirginianatives.org/native-plants-for-central-rapp/. These plant ID markers are used by other regional native plant campaigns and help to visibly connect the regional campaigns as a coast-wide effort.

A brochure will also be produced to guide visitors through the garden. This brochure will be distributed to local organizations and schools to encourage the use of the garden as an outdoor classroom and community resource.

Federal Funding:

$24,716

Project Contact:

Linda Millsaps, 540.373.2890, millsaps@gwregion.org

Project Status:

9/1/18 - 3/31/19; Project Completed

Final Product:

George Washington Regional Commission Cedell Brooks, Jr. Park Native Plant Demonstration Garden (PDF) 

Project Summary:

The Plant Central Rappahannock Natives Campaign is a marketing campaign to promote the use of native plants throughout the Central Rappahannock region of Virginia, including the City of Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford. The campaign is part of a coast-wide effort by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program and its partners to increase the demand and supply of Virginia native plants through public-private collaboration.

In September 2018, the Plant Central Rappahannock Natives Campaign received a grant through the Virginia CZM Program to design and construct a native plant demonstration garden at Cedell Brooks, Jr. Park in King George County, Virginia. The garden showcases landscaping strategies and native plant species to educate users on uses of native plants within the Central Rappahannock region. The grant was administered by the George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC) on behalf of the Campaign. The final products reflect an extensive amount of work conducted by members of the Plant Central Rappahannock Natives Campaign Steering Committee, volunteers, and GWRC staff and consultants.

The project was implemented in the following stages:

Initial Design

Sherry Graham of Artwood Gardens, a local professional landscape designer, created a preliminary design/planting plan for the demonstration garden. The preliminary plan was completed in July 2018.

Site Preparation

Campaign partners and volunteers prepared the site for planting. Site preparation was completed in October 2018.

Final Plan & Plant Acquisition

GWRC staff coordinated with campaign partners to approve the garden design and native plant selection and order the plants. The design was reviewed and approved by campaign partners in September 2018. Plants for the initial planting were ordered in October 2018, and plants for the additional planting were ordered in April 2019.

 

Signage

GWRC staff coordinated with campaign partners and CZM staff to produce signage for the garden. CZM staff designed six signs (signs for the entrance, rain garden, meadow garden, and hillside and streetside plantings as well as signs about pollinators and conservation landscaping). GWRC staff placed the order for the signs, which were delivered to and installed by King George Parks and Recreation in May 2019. CZM staff drafted the order for the plant ID markers (91 total), which were ordered by GWRC staff and installed by Master Gardener volunteers in June 2019.

Construction and Promotion

GWRC staff provided project oversight and coordinated with campaign partners and volunteers to install the garden in October and November 2018. Additional plantings were installed in April 2019. Signage was installed in May/June 2019. Partners participated in five coordination calls between February and May 2019 to plan a dedication ceremony. CZM and GWRC staff wrote a press release to advertise the ceremony; an article about the garden and dedication ceremony appeared on the front page of the Free Lance-Star on June 4, 2019. The ceremony, which was held on June 8, 2019, included an introduction by Chris Clarke, Director of King George Parks & Recreation, a keynote address by Peggy Stevens, a retired land conservation professional, a ribbon cutting, and tours of the garden. Copies of the brochure, which was designed by a Master Naturalist volunteer, as well as maps of the garden were given to attendees.

Long-Term Maintenance

GWRC worked with campaign partners to finalize the long-term maintenance plan for the garden, which assigns responsible parties for various maintenance tasks including watering, replacement of plants, weeding, and mulching.

Final Report

GWRC staff and consultants produced a 38-page final report, detailing the results of the project.

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:Laura.McKay@deq.virginia.gov

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to Virginia.Witmer@deq.virginia.gov or April.Bahen@deq.virginia.gov.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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