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Dominion funds wetlands restoration at Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center

April 26, 2017

Students and community members learned about wetlands restoration during a planning exercise in advance of several projects scheduled for fall 2017 at the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center.
Students and community members learned about wetlands restoration during a planning exercise in advance of several projects scheduled for fall 2017 at the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center.

A $15,000 grant from Dominion Resources will fund wetlands restoration at the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center this fall.

The Dominion Foundation grant has already led to a hands-on learning opportunity for dozens of students and members of the local community who gathered at the center to learn how such projects are designed and implemented.

“It was exciting to be able to see what a day in the field would be like for a wetlands restoration specialist,” said Brittany Grutter of Vienna, who is working toward her master’s in biological systems engineering. “It was cool to see something that I can work toward becoming — something that is a real, viable career option.”

During a daylong session, Grutter and participants explored portions of the sustainability center’s 377 acres to look for potential sites for wetlands restoration.

The center is located roughly 20 miles northeast of Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus. It falls within the Upper James River Basin, in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and is administered through Virginia Tech Outreach and International Affairs.

“Most floodplains in the area were actually drained at some point, in a variety of different ways, said biological systems Professor W. Cully Hession. “We mapped out four possible restoration areas and will probably pick one or two of them for the fall. One of them is near a spur of the Appalachian Trail, and we’re leaning toward that because it would be highly visible.”

Adam Taylor, the sustainability center manager, said Dominion’s generosity will bring environmental benefits, such as controlling erosion and increasing the number of pollinating insects on the grounds. The gift also provides a valuable opportunity to educate the public, he said.

“We’re grateful to the Dominion Foundation for funding this project so that we can continue to educate the Virginia Tech community and our local community partners about the importance of environmental stewardship and sustainability in the Catawba Valley,” he said.

“Dominion is pleased to support Virginia Tech’s Catawba Sustainability Center in its initiative to restore local wetlands and create greater access and knowledge about endangered habitats through outdoor classrooms and workshops,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Foundation. “We applaud the program’s hands-on approach to environmental stewardship.”

The Dominion Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Dominion, one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, headquartered in Richmond. The foundation is dedicated to improving the physical, social, and economic well-being of the communities served by Dominion, including Dominion Virginia Power.

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