Father James Orthmann is a Trappist monk
at the Holy Cross Abbey, a 1,200-acre farm
with nearly three miles of frontage on the
Shenandoah River near Berryville, Virginia.
“In order for us to be spiritually sustainable,
it is necessary for us to take care of Cool
Springs Farm, the place where we live,”
Orthmann explains. The monks began their
natural resources pilgrimage with a sustainability study conducted by the University of
Michigan in 2009 and 2010.
“One of the first recommendations was to
get our cows out of the Shenandoah River,”
Orthmann says. “How could we be true to
our guiding principal of loving our ‘place’
with cows polluting the water and ruining
the stream banks?”
The monks worked with the Lord Fairfax
Soil and Water Conservation District and
the Natural Resources Conservation
Service to fence their cattle out of the
Shenandoah and the rest of the farm’s
streams and to install watering troughs.
“We were able to protect almost 4. 5 miles
of stream banks.”
“Sustainability works,” Orthmann says. “It’s
paying off economically, environmentally,
Fencing livestock out of farm streams is not
just an environmental, economic, and spiritual imperative. CBF contends that for
Virginia’s largest livestock farms, it’s a legal
one, too. That’s why CBF challenged Virginia
in court for failing to require the
Commonwealth’s large feeding operations
(AFOs) to exclude livestock from streams.
According to the Commonwealth’s own data,
some 8,000 miles of Virginia streams are
fouled by bacterial contamination, primarily
from farm animals in streams. Despite this
fact, the Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality (DEQ) and State
Water Control Board last year approved a
10-year permit for the state’s largest livestock
Fencing livestock out
of farm streams is a
legal imperative as well.
Father James Orthmann, a Trappist monk, follows
their guiding principle of taking care of “place,”
by working with state agencies to fence cattle
out of the abbey’s streams and the Shenandoah.
operations that contains no requirement to
exclude livestock from streams and rivers.
Across Virginia, farmers recognize that stream
fencing improves herd health. They are signing up in unprecedented numbers for state
cost-share funds to assist them in excluding
livestock from waterways. To ensure adequate resources are available to meet the
growing demand, currently estimated at over
$70 million, CBF and our partners will continue to advocate for funding and technical
assistance. Indeed, Virginia has much still to
do to impement the Chesapeake Clean Water
Blueprint, and CBF is committed to helping
the Commonwealth keep its clean-water
commitment to its citizens.
u To learn more about CBF’s work in Virginia,
Development Threatens Eagle Hotspot
on the Rappahannock
Thirty years ago, the American bald eagle was
on the precipice of extinction. Today, its population is healthy. Its greatest remaining
threat is habitat destruction. But, alarmingly,
one of the most important bald eagle habitats
on the East Coast is now in danger of being
turned into a massive residential and commercial development covering more than
750 football fields.
Fones Cliffs is an idyllic unspoiled spot on
Virginia’s Northern Neck. The extensive forest and high white cliffs rising above the
Rappahannock River provide an ideal hunting perch for the hundreds of eagles that
migrate through the area. The river and adjacent sensitive wetlands provide a major nursery area for fish, including striped bass, shad,
and sturgeon. The historic site is where
Captain John Smith was ambushed by
Rappahannock warriors in 1608.
CBF, along with local groups, is fighting a
proposal that would forever convert this pristine stretch along the Rappahannock into a
massive luxury development, including hundreds of homes, a golf course, hotel, restaurant, commercial center, equestrian center,
and seven piers into the river.
This project jeopardizes the thriving eagle
population and is in conflict with the
Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Fones
Cliffs is an incomparable scenic and historic
area. It is precisely the wrong place for a high-density development. CBF is working to
ensure that this treasure on the
Rappahannock will not be lost forever.
u To learn more and get involved, visit cbf.org/