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River Friendly Yard Program Receives Phase I Funding

Last week, the Virginia Urban and Community Forestry Partnership (VDOF) and the Tri-County/City Soil and Water Conservation District generously awarded funds for Phase I of the River Friendly Yard program. The program is a growing grassroots multi-year partnership between the City of Fredericksburg, the National Wildlife Federation, the Tri-County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Rappahannock River Basin Commission, Biogreen Corporation, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, George Washington University, Gentle Gardener Green Design, and other private and public entities.

The Mission of the River-Friendly Yard Initiative is to determine the costs and benefits of conversion of conventional suburban lawn to a river-friendly yard for the City of Fredericksburg and perhaps also including suburban lands in surrounding jurisdictions. The River-Friendly Yard is a landscape design concept intended to reduce nutrient pollution loading to the Rappahannock River of Virginia.

The project is important because according to the Chesapeake Bay Program, approximately 10% of the nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay is from urban/suburban sources. The project audience is urban/suburban homeowners with existing lawns and City public works staff that maintain public spaces. The audience also includes parties likely to be involved in a future river-friendly yard economy (nurserymen, lawn and garden retailers, landscape contractors, etc.). ┬áThese comprise the “social capital” required to create a self-sustaining river-friendly yard culture beyond the life of research and development seed funding.

Phase I kickoff is set for fall of this year.

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