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Riparian Tree Planting on the Frye Farm

West Virginia Success Story

Riparian Tree Planting on the Frye Farm

Program or Category:  Chesapeake Bay Program

Overview: Upon first meeting Joshua Frye, a farmer from Wardensville, WV, you will quickly notice there is something different about him.  Josh represents a new generation of producers; a generation bent on uncovering every bit of knowledge that may give them “an edge” on production.  This new age of farmers not only value the acquisition of knowledge but are likewise concerned with educating the public about their efforts to contribute to a healthier environment. 

In recent years, Josh has been working, in conjunction with West Virginia University, on developing his own method of producing “biochar.”  Biochar is a name for charcoal when used for particular purposes such as a soil amendment.  Like all charcoal, biochar is created by pyrolysis of biomassPyrolysis, a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures without the participation of oxygen, produces biochar, liquids, and gases from biomass.  Biochar is a stable solid rich in carbon and said to be able to endure in the soil for thousands of years.  Thus, by using chicken litter and a gasification cooking process, Josh has been adding permanent, essential nutrients to his soil that not only increases productivity but also reduces the amount of manure applied to his property annually.

In September, Todd Miller, the Director of Aquatic Restoration at Canaan Valley Institute (CVI), was trying to find a funding source to plant trees and shrubs on Josh Frye’s farm.  The West Virginia Division of Forestry’s riparian buffer funding was the answer. On Friday, November 30, 2012, Herb Peddicord, Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forester with the WV DOF, worked with CVI and Mr. Frye to coordinate a tree planting on Josh’s property.  It so happens that along the Cacapon River, which traverses through Josh’s property, there is a very critical section that is extremely susceptible to soil erosion.  These areas are of great concern to the Chesapeake Bay Program which has set out with the purpose of improving the water quality in the Bay.  Small tree plantings, such as this (500ft x 35ft), seem to be relatively insignificant in respect to a water mass as large as the Chesapeake Bay, but the cumulative effect translates into thousands of acres of riparian tree plantings per year and will have a large effect on the Bay’s water.

Accomplishments:  So, this particular Friday shaped up to be an extremely eventful day in which over 170 trees and shrubs were planted!  Through the efforts of many agencies and through the funding supplied by the Chesapeake Bay Program and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, there was headway made on the Cacapon River; one of the many tributaries that contribute water to the Chesapeake Bay.  This day was not just any tree planting but also marked a collaborative effort from multiple agencies with similar goals in mind.  Those that were present for the tree planting were Josh Frye (Farm Owner), Watershed Forester Herb Peddicord (WV Division of Forestry), Urban Forestry Coordinator Tanner Haid (Cacapon Institute), NRCS Forester Jacob Metcalf (Natural Resource Conservation Service), Research Specialist Josh Saville (Canaan Valley Institute), Director of Aquatic Restoration Todd Miller (Canaan Valley Institute), and Ph.D. of Aquatic Ecology Dr. Andrew Burgess (WVU Environmental Research Center).

WVU professor Dr. Andrew Burgess attended the tree planting with a small group of Wildlife and Fisheries students.  The professor, in conjunction with Joshua Fry (farm owner), was conducting an experiment where “biochar” was applied to the soil around the root systems of a selected number of trees and shrubs which will be compared with trees and shrubs on the same site which had a potting soil/cow manure mixture applied to the roots and a control group of trees and shrubs simply planted with no treatment at all.  Since Josh lives on and operates the farm, he will be monitoring the growth rates and progress of the riparian planting. 

In retrospect of the entire day, it is clear that in addition to a multiple agency collaborative tree planting project engineered to better protect the Chesapeake Bay’s waters and an obvious element of education, there was also scientific headway made in the area of nutrient management as it applies to riparian tree plantings.

Patrick D. Bowen, State Resource Conservationist
West Virginia State Office,
1550 Earl Core Road, Suite 200,
Morgantown, WV 26505


West Virginia University (WVU) Environmental Research Center Staff Member Dr. Andrew Burgess explains the procedures of nutrient application that will be used on saplings in the experiment as 3 WVU Wildlife and Fisheries students look on.
Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forester Herb Peddicord (WV Division of Forestry) plants a small hardwood sapling as part of a riparian tree planting project that is expected to eliminate soil erosion into the Cacapon River.