What do you think of when you hear about polluted streams or rivers? For most people fertilizers, pesticides, and petroleum products come to mind, but soil particles that wash in to the stream are also a significant source of pollution and can change the entire ecology of a stream.

• Light is blocked, aquatic plants don’t grow.
• Habitat is destroyed when sediment fills the spaces between rocks where the smallest organisms live. Small fish and others have no place to hide from predators.
• Food sources, both plant an animal, are limited.
• The once complex ecosystem of the stream becomes simple; there is little diversity. Organisms that are tolerant of these conditions predominate; sensitive organisms may be completely lost.
• This affects the terrestrial food web as well.

This is what has happened in Reedy Creek and most other urban streams. Human activities cause much more erosion than would occur naturally.  Habitat has been degraded and we no longer find the diversity of organisms that would exist in a healthy stream, including the stonefly nymph featured on our logo.  If you live in the Reedy Creek watershed, there is good chance that a little of your yard has washed down to Reedy Creek, the lake in Forest Hill Park, and the James River. The contribution from your property may not seem significant,  but the cumulative effect from residential properties has a big impact on local streams and beyond. Here’s how you can help…

• Look for evidence of erosion on your property, especially bare patches of ground on slopes or near driveways and walks.
• If the problem is caused by water running from a downspout or impervious surface during a rain, redirect or capture that water.
• Reduce erosion potential by planting these areas with perennials, shrubs, or trees. The roots of plants will help hold the soil. Shrubs and trees are best where possible and native species are always best.
• Do everything you can to keep rain water on your property.

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Even if your yard doesn’t appear to have a problem, water that leaves your property often ends up in your local stream, causing erosion or picking up sediment on its way to the stream and contributing to stream bank erosion once it gets there.

Help bring the stonefly back to Reedy Creek.

Please join us for our June meeting on Wednesday the 13th at 6:30 p.m. We meet at the Wesover Hills Library.  Our guest, Jennifer Hatchett, PE, Stormwater and Wastewater Collections Administrator for the City of Richmond, will speak about green infrastructure projects across the city.  There will be ample opportunity for questions, especially regarding the potential for projects in our watershed.

Reedy Creek Coalition provides community education, organizes tree planting and invasive removal projects, performs water monitoring, and works closely with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to perform assessments for homeowners.

If you are interested in joining any of our projects or have questions, please contact us.


storm event

Reedy Creek after a summer storm.   It doesn’t have to be like this!


We have decided to cancel this project due to the forecast for thunderstorms and many mosquitos in the work area.   Hopefully we can reschedule soon.


Crooked Branch Ravine Park, a small park on the south side of Richmond, is home to a diverse urban forest, some lovely native shrubs and perennials, and the critters that depend on such places.  Many of these plants are threatened by non-native, invasive species.  We can either do something to change the situation or we will eventually lose both the canopy and understory layers.

Maintaining a healthy canopy also allows more rain water to stay where it falls; this reduces runoff (and therefore the possibility of flooding downstream) and improves water quality.  Another important reason to care for this little patch of forest in our urban watershed.

Please join us for invasive plant removal!

  • Sunday,  June 3 from 1-3 p.m.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  An old screwdriver is sometimes helpful for removing ivy from trees; we will show you how.
  • Bring your own water.
  • Bring insect repellant.
  • Bring a friend!

Map to meeting site

hickory canopy



On the next rainy day, put on your raincoat and check out your downspouts. Is there water from your roof gushing from them? If there is, congratulations, they are doing their job! A summer downpour can result in thousands of gallons of water flowing off of your roof. But have you ever wondered where all of that water ends up?

The answer is, it depends on your downspouts. Can you see water coming from the end of the downspout? If you can, does it run onto your sidewalk, patio or driveway? These surfaces are usually considered impervious, so instead of being absorbed into the ground, the rain water runs off. Depending on where you live, runoff ends up directly in a storm drain or joins runoff from neighboring properties and goes into Reedy Creek. Reedy Creek travels from Midlothian Turnpike to the James, passing through Forest Hill Lake on it’s way. Some storm drains empty directly into the James River.

Why does this matter? The number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas is stormwater runoff. Stormwater is the rain, including pollutants from the roof, fertilizer and pet waste from the yard and oil and other chemicals from the street, that runs off the roof and other impervious surfaces into the storm drains. Storm drains are not the same thing as the sanitary drains that carry household waste water to a treatment center. That means that every pollutant the water has picked up along it’s journey goes directly into the river. Not something most people want to wade, kayak, fish or swim in!

We all live in a watershed , so anything the homeowner can do to keep rain water on their property reduces the impact on our streams. Your downspouts make a difference in the amount of stormwater that remains on your property during a rain event. Water that flows off your property during a storm goes directly into the storm drain or adds to the runoff from neighboring properties. That means millions of gallons of water are running into Reedy Creek with enough force to erode stream banks and carry toxic waste, sediment and litter all the way from Midlothian Turnpike to the lake in Forest Hill Park.

How can you the, homeowner, help? Check out your downspouts, where does the water go when it rains? Does it spill onto an impervious surface, such as a brick or concrete sidewalk that directs the water into the street ? If the soil in your yard is compacted, even your lawn will contribute to storm water runoff.


A few easy adjustments can make a difference. Extend a downspout away from your foundation and direct the water to a landscaped area that will catch the rain and keep it on your property, or add a rain barrel to capture the runoff.   If your downspout goes into the ground and you are not sure where it goes, assume that it connects to a storm drain. There is a link to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay at the end of this article for more information on how to disconnect this type of downspout.  A rain barrel attached to a downspout is an ideal way to capture storm water. The water in the barrel can be used to water landscaping or garden areas at a later time. Or, the water can be released slowly after the rain, to keep it from running into the storm drain. Ideally, the storm water should be directed into the garden, or a landscaped area, where the water is absorbed instead of running into the storm drain.

For more information:
Calculate the amount of water that is coming off of your roof:


This begins a series of posts about watershed issues with suggestions for how to improve water quality and support the local ecosystem right from your own yard.

We hope you will enjoy


Our Reedy Creek logo is very simple, but says a lot about what we think is important.


The leaf over the top represents canopy as well as understory shrubs and trees, perennials, and other plants.  A healthy canopy, composed primarily of species native to the area, protects streams, improves water quality,  cools the air in summer, and provides life support services for animals from insects to mammals.

The blue at the bottom represents the stream, of course.  A healthy stream should be clear, not muddy; rocky streams such as our should have clean bottoms with little silt and should be free of obvious green algae during warm weather

The stonefly in the middle represents what’s missing from Reedy Creek because of human activity.  This insect lives in water during its nymphal stage* and requires good water quality to survive.  We have changed the entire ecology of the stream!

nymph is the immature form of some invertebrates, particularly insects, which undergoes gradual metamorphosis  before reaching its adult stage.

Please stay tuned for more! 

Crooked Branch Ravine Park acts like a sponge, soaking up rain water and keeping it where it falls.  It is also home to many native plants that support wildlife, including warblers and other song birds on their long migrations.

CBR map

The circle indicates the approximate location of Crooked Branch Ravine Park.

Protecting areas like this will help keep the rain where it falls and help improve water quality; this need is great in urban areas with lots of impervious surface.   Unfortunately, this little park has many non-native, invasive plants and over time they will threaten the tree canopy (natures’ best invention for capturing rain water).  And, as native species are lost so is the diversity that supports wildlife.

This is important work. We would appreciate your help.

  • Sunday,  May 6 from 1 – 3 p.m.  or as long as you can stay.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  An old screwdriver is sometimes helpful for removing ivy from trees; we will show you how.
  • We do ask that you bring your own water.
  • Bring a friend!

Map to meeting site

Please join us as we continue invasive removal in Crooked Branch Ravine Park.    The buds on trees and shrubs there are just about to burst and will then provide berries and nuts for the critters as well as food for caterpillars.

Moth and butterfly eggs are laid on the plants that the caterpillars of that species will eat; the great majority need natve plants and some of them are picky eaters, requiring certain species.  The caterpillars become the primary food source for baby birds.  No caterpillars, no baby birds.  If the non-native plants are allowed to continue their rampant growth, we will loose many of the plants, including large trees, and the area will not be able to sustain the year round residents and migrant birds that depend on it.

This is important work and we would really appreciate your help.

  • Sunday,  April 8  from 1 – 3 p.m.  or as long as you can stay.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  An old screwdriver is sometimes helpful for removing ivy from trees; we will show you how.
  • We do ask that you bring your own water.
  • Bring a friend!
  • If you have never done this type of work before we will glady show you what to do.

Map to meeting site

hickory buds

Hickory buds are ready to pop!