Have you ever navigated a watershed? What is a watershed? All the waters that make their way to our rivers and oceans have to start somewhere, and the watershed is how that happens. Welcome to the first installment of the South River Science Team’s South River Currents video series, Navigating Our Watershed (created by DV Entertainment). Join host, Leighton, and her assistant, Southy The Mouthy South River Fish, to explore the watershed and its treasures and challenges. You may even figure out your very own “watershed address.”

The South River Science Team was established in 2001 with broad representation to work together to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing mercury levels in fish and to promote mercury remediation strategies. Currently, the Science Team is working with partners to develop a watershed-wide perspective to provide engaging and accessible opportunities to see the South River Watershed through others’ eyes and diverse interests; to understand basic, shared facts about the watershed; and to hear watershed stories in a way that inspires further interest, participation, and collaboration.

The South River Watershed encompasses 234 square miles in parts of Augusta County and Rockingham County and includes the communities of Greenville, Sherando, Stuarts Draft, Lyndhurst, the City of Waynesboro, Dooms, Crimora, Harriston, Grottoes, and Port Republic. The Watershed is widely known for outdoor recreation and natural areas, agriculture and forestry, a diversity of manufacturing and industry, and especially a unique blend of cold- and warm-water fishing opportunities.

Tucked along the Western slope of the Blue Ridge, the 147-acre Cowbane Prairie Natural Area Preserve is located in Stuarts Draft in Augusta County, Virginia and is part of the South River Watershed. In the video below, Peter Van Acker of the Augusta Bird Club shares the uniqueness of this area which contains an environment more commonly found in the Midwest. The preserve provides a sanctuary for mesic and wet prairie habitats; a calcareous, spring-fed marsh; and regionally rare plants that exist at only at a handful of sites in Virginia.

NOTE: Currently no parking is available at the Preserve. Do not park near the entrance and gate area of the Preserve; this area is private property. The police are issuing tickets for trespassing and illegal parking in this area.

Over the last few centuries, the development of industry has shaped the South River Watershed. The river was the main source of water and energy for farms, orchards, mills, and then factories. Today, we still rely on the river for a variety of uses, and it benefits our quality of life and community health for both residents and visitors. Check out our latest vignette to get a glimpse of the role the South River has played in local industry, starting in the South River Watershed and spreading far beyond it.

In this video featuring Jennifer Allen-Key, Stormwater Program Manager for the City of Waynesboro, you’ll see why it is important that only rain goes down the drain. Here we talk about all the drains along city streets, yards, and parking lots that carry runoff through a series of pipes directly to the South River. Everyone in the watershed has a role to play in keeping the river clean, and that starts with how we consider stormwater runoff right at our home or work.