WUI Project Protects Community, Restores Wetlands


Equipment and crews from three refuges converged on Hoskins Creek, Virginia to conduct a fuels reduction project that helped reduce the wildfire risk to the community and restore the wetlands surrounding the creek.

Using a marsh master, a unique amphibious vehicle, borrowed from Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware, crews from Rappahannock River and Blackwater national wildlife refuges in Virginia proceeded to rid the marsh of phragmites, an invasive reed-like weed. Phragmites not only displaces native plants and provides poor habitat for wildlife, but the dead stalks were a substantial fire hazard. Refuge managers hope that by clearing out the invaders, native plants and grasses will have a chance to reclaim the marsh. Funding for the vehicle and operators was provided through the refuge system's wildland urban interface program.

"All this work we're doing is on private land and without the voluntary cooperation of the landowners we wouldn't be able to get in there and knock that plant down," explained Joseph McCauley, manager of Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The project was conducted on 50-60 privately owned acres and with the assistance of the local Rappahannock Phragmites Action Committee.

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