Israel Creek runs between two grass-fed beef cattle pastures in Woodsboro, and keeping the cows out of the water and the grass roots deep and protecting the stream banks from erosion are high on the priority list.
Steve and Ruth Ann Derrenbacher’s 70 to 80 cows, calves and yearlings have been blocked from the creek in Heirland Farm for the past 15 years by an electric fence. The cows don’t mind, but fast-moving water coming from upstream has begun to erode the creek’s sides, he said.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation will plant 1,000 trees and shrubs between the creek bank and fence Saturday to help minimize the amount of soil that is lost. The foundation is looking for volunteers to help with planting
Planting will start at 9 a.m. Saturday in Woodsboro. People who register online will have access to the full address. Steve Derrenbacher will have order forms and a discount available for Ruth Ann’s Gardenstyle Beef for people who help.
Steve Derrenbacher’s grandfather bought the farm in 1942, and it was passed down to him. He works as a full-time veterinarian at Glade Valley Animal Hospital on Monocacy Boulevard in Frederick and a part-time farmer.
The farm is hilly and highly susceptible to erosion, he said. The farm was primarily used for crop farming, but in the 1980s, the family switched to grass, on which he now raises his herd.
“It’s really a difficult area to manage for grazing,” Steve Derrenbacher said.
He has tried to establish deep-root grasses to keep the soil where it is and prevent runoff, laced with the nutrients from cow waste, from reaching the stream.
Israel Creek feeds the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. The project is expected to help the watershed, as the trees act as buffers and their roots help keep the bank in place. In total, the project will add close to 7 acres of trees.
“Trees are the best way to handle that,” Steve Derrenbacher said.
The stream buffers also contribute to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s carbon sequestration project with WGL Energy and Sterling Planet, which funded the plants for this project, Tom Zolper, a spokesman for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, wrote in an email.
“We all need to do our part,” Steve Derrenbacher said.
Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.
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