In mid May, the Headwaters Master Naturalist training class was introduced to the Center for Coldwaters Restoration (CCR) exhibit show room for a sampling of what promises to be a world class facility in downtown Waynesboro. The Center for Coldwaters Restoration, an idea home-grown in Waynesboro, is all about the natural world (ecology) of the South River and making it a naturally healthy home to native aquatic life. Since we know that we all live “downstream,” this is a far reaching endeavor that will have unlimited benefits for as far as the imagination can go.
The history of the CCR goes back to the days of the law suits against Dupont for the toxic waste it contributed to the surrounding earth and water in Waynesboro. Fishing in the South River continues to be problematic because of the mercury that continues to leach out of the stream bank soil making a less than desirable home for unstocked, wild trout that used to populate the stream. Fed by cold water springs the South River was, and should once again become, one of the natural treasures of the East Coast.
CCR has joined with many partners to conceive of and build a facility that will incorporate four essential components located in one place. The South River as it runs through Waynesboro and a re-purposed industrial site in the City will be the basic foundations of:
1. The Blue Ridge and Valley Interpretive Center and Aquarium – which will utilize the Virginia Museum of Natural History as a model. More here.
2. University Research and Education Center – to establish a center for an artificial stream laboratory shared by universities and colleges in VA for the purpose of education and research of watersheds and their environments. More here.
3. Campus for physically locating State and National agencies that share common missions, thereby eliminating duplication of facilities and increasing information exchange and accessibility among agencies studying natural resources.
4. Hatchery – Brook Trout is our State fish and used to be wild in the South River. Now we can only hope that centers like CCR will repopulate our streams with genetically appropriate fish. To this end, the Center will be able to scientifically determine the environment and ecology that best sustain Brook Trout. Be assured that partners such as Trout Unlimited, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the National Fish and Wildlife Fund will be enthusiastic about contributing to this component. The Science Team is dedicated to eliminating man made problems with South River and related streams.
An unofficial component of this grand scheme is our Master Naturalist program. There is a very fruitful place for us as interpreters in the galleries of the Center. After receiving specialized instruction, Master Naturalists can guide guests knowledgeably as well as provide Standards of Learning (SOL) information for students. There will most likely be outside presentations as well. AND…if we are willing to have specialized training, laboratory work at the Center may be available to Master Naturalists.