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Restoring local watershed through replanting project

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Category: impact Video duration: Restoring local watershed through replanting project
Students in the College of Natural Resources and Environment learn about tree planting techniques and equipment used in ecological restoration. The group plants seedling trees along the Stroubles Creek watershed to improve the health and quality of the valuable community resource. Learn more about New River Conservancy's restoration efforts at

Sometimes, I'll take it from the top and twist down. It's typically easiest for me. So we're out here at Virginia Tech's StREAM Lab, managed by Virginia Tech's Biological Systems Engineering. We're working with forestry students to learn about reforestation techniques. As we partner with New River Conservancy to restore Stroubles Creek's riparian forest habitat. So we went through the systems of how to successfully establish a forest. Talking about tree shelters, shelter stakes, and then also the specialized tools we'd use to plant them. We'll go up to our designated planting location and scalp the existing vegetation down to bare soil. And then we use a specialized planting tool called a Dibble bar to create a pilot hole for the tree to go in. Put the tree in, plant it at the correct depth, which is right to the root collar, close up the hole. And then we install our shelters on. And then to fix the shelters to the ground, we install a wooden stake, and to top it off, we put a bird net over the top. I thought this was really exciting. It felt really good to be doing something good for the community. I love that we're restoring a creek near Virginia Tech. It's a really awesome experience to be a part of. Tree planting is a huge part of the industry's work, whether it be in public forestry or whether it be, it be in managed plantation forestry. Super important to understand the skill, so while we're just doing a small restoration project here, this has big implications for all of our futures. Over the past decade, we've planted over 40,000 native trees. And this spring we're adding 10,000 more to the ranks. And in total, the number of species, we're exceeding 50 different species. And our management objective is to create a resilient forest and maximizing diversity in the process. The motto of Virginia Tech is Ut Prosim, which means, "that I may serve." And I take that as not only serving our human community, but the greater than human community which encompasses all life that we share this community with. We're a part of this natural world we're not separate from that. And it's our duty to improve the health and condition of something that's a cherished resource in our community like Stroubles Creek. Blacksburg is among the most rapidly growing urban centers in the New River Valley. And so we have the combination of a federally impaired waterway with a rapidly growing town. And so strategically, it's really important to restore the native riparian forest along Stroubles Creek, to improve water quality and connect fragmented ecosystems and ensure we have a healthy watershed pass on to future generations.