James Pinsky: Buffy, the non-point source pollution slayer

James Pinsky

Most people like super heroes, even conservationists.

Comic books, movies and even international conventions have been dedicated to names like Super Man, Aqua Man and of course, Wonder Woman because they all help save our fantasy world.

Make believe can be fun, if not futile.

Super heroes do exist though, and my favorite one isn’t a fantasy – or human. Known simply as Buffy to a tree hugger like me, my forest friends and her single-parent guardian, Mother Nature, chances are you know her better by her alter-ego name, Riparian Buffer.

What’s her superpower? She saves the world, of course. Riparian Buffer doesn’t wear a cape, fly around Woodstock or even have an invisible jet. Nope, this soil-laden organic do-gooder does her best work as vegetated land adjacent to a stream or water body. There her vegetation helps water quality and habitat by helping to regulate temperature, add organic matter like leaves and twigs, which help reduce pollution and provide sustainable wildlife habitat.

Buffy’s a pretty busy lady these days. While Superman and his Justice League are off fighting the mythological Legion of Doom, Buffy is fighting and winning a very real battle against an equally destructive but authentic army of villains like non-point source pollution, erosion and loss of wildlife habitat.

Her list of duties, according to some soil experts from North Carolina State University include maintaining and improving water quality by protecting water resources from non-point pollutants such as sediment, nutrients and pesticides from both urban and agricultural activities, shading streams and regulating fluctuations in water temperatures to help maintain fish habitat, especially for cold-water fish such as trout that can’t tolerate high stream temperatures. Buffy also helps stabilize stream, river, pond, and lake banks preventing erosion.

Not only is Buffy a friend to the forest, she’s a super hero to our wallets as well. If Buffy hangs out where you live she’ll increase the land value, help produce profitable alternative crops , and even help you increase lease fees for hunting because when she’s around so are the deer, bears, ducks, turkeys and other wild game animals.

So, the next time you or your family want to indulge in the fantasy world of being a super hero, pause and consider seeing a real one like Buffy along your local river, stream or pond. Take a picture with her, I hear she loves selfies.

If you can’t find Buffy, or know where she might be needed, don’t worry. Give us a call at the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District. We know how to make her appear, and we’ll be happy to show you just how it’s done.

James Pinsky is the Education and Information Coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.  Contact him at 540.465.2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org. Visit us at www.lfswcd.org or follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/lfswcd