District awards honor environmental efforts

By Josette Keelor

STRASBURG — The Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District held its annual awards luncheon Thursday to honor community members and organizations that have made sweeping efforts to improve the region’s soil and water quality.

Those recognized were named at a presentation at the Hotel Strasburg. Richard W. Hoover, chairman and director of the LFSWCD in Warren County, led the presentation, stating “It’s time for the district to honor its heroes,” and members of district’s board of directors presented the awards.

Director Joan M. Comanor presented the Conservation Farm Award to Wilkins Brothers Dairy in New Market. Praising their success in building upon 30 years of producing grade-A milk and growing cattle feed, she said they now produce 130 acres of corn and 50 acres of soybeans. They’ve improved soil composition and health and set up 1,000 feet of fencing along a tributary to the North Fork of the Shenandoah River to prevent pollution to the waterway.

Jeffrey S. Carithers, who runs Spring House Farms with his wife Ali, accepted the Outstanding Conservation Partner Award from Associate Director Mary L. Gessner for improving wildlife habitat improvement, timber stand improvement, invasive species control, conversion of a former pasture to warm season grasses and wildflowers and the establishment of two riparian forests.

Michael Swauger, Harry Reed and Everett Zimmer accepted the Outstanding Conservation Partner Award on behalf of The Happy Creek Project from Hoover.

Along the Front Royal bypass, Hoover said, project participants transitioned land into a beautiful wooded waterway habitat “for trout and other living resources.” They also set up a rain garden with the help of the Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Izaak Walton League of Warren County.

Roberta L. Walters of Clarke County accepted an Outstanding Conservation Farmer Award from Clarke County Director Bernard “Bud” Nagelvoort for her work at Page Brook Farm near Boyce, where she improved water quality and installed 8,660 feet of screen fencing, 12,353 feet of interior fencing, 6,500 feet of pipeline and 20 water troughs for her cattle and horses.

More than a mile of Page Brook has been improved, Nagelvoort said.

The Urban Forestry Award went to the Senior Lawyer Conference of the Virginia State Bar for its Trees for Virginia Project in Winchester, awarded by Winchester City Director Renae Patrick. Over the past three years, the project has provided over 550 seedlings for the Community Tree Planting Program, and they also engaged other partners to assist with tree tubes and steaks, portable toilet rental and other supplies.

Cindy Frenzel, from the Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah Valley, received the Outstanding Educator Award from M. Lauck Walton, director at large, for increasing the Friends’ education efforts.

Friends Executive Director Leslie Mitchell said the award recognizes the huge effort the North Fork has made to educate the community on the river’s importance.

“In the last five years we’ve really grown in that area,” she said.

After receiving the Conservation Partner Award from Associate Director of Shenandoah County Henry Staudinger for promoting accurate, useful and balanced information for agricultural growth in Shenandoah County, J. Seth Coffman, chairman of Shenandoah Forum, said the award honors the effort they’ve made.

“We’re excited to get it,” he said after the ceremony. “It’s exciting to be recognized.”

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com