Grants to benefit Blackwater, Nottoway rivers

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

by Lynne Rabil

When Jeff Turner decided to retire as the local Riverkeeper, the charitable 501(c) 3 organization he established was dissolved. Because IRS has specific requirements regarding the assets of a charitable organization, the board of directors of the Riverkeeper decided to sell the assets and award grants to local clubs and organizations who would support the Riverkeeper goals with the proceeds.

Garbage that’s collected in the Blackwater River. — Submitted | Lynn Rabil

Letters were sent to multiple civic organizations in April 2017 seeking proposals that would specifically align with the mission of the Riverkeeper to protect the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers. In January 2018, the Riverkeeper awarded $15,000 to the Franklin Garden Club and a separate $7,580 grant was awarded to the Franklin Garden Club to be shared with the Historic Southside Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists.

As one component of their separate grant proposals, the Franklin Garden Club and the Master Naturalists have agreed to join efforts to continue the Riverkeeper tradition of supporting Clean Rivers Month. April is Clean Rivers Month.

In addition to Clean Rivers, the Riverkeeper grants will be used by the Franklin Garden Club and Master Naturalists to educate the public about practices that affect the sensitive Albemarle watershed. They will also be used to plant native and indigenous trees, shrubs and perennials in pollinator or rain gardens and riparian buffers that protect the ecology of the rivers. Some funds will be used to improve the habitat of important waterfowl and to encourage healthy populations of other important species.

Founded in 1920, The Garden Club of Virginia’s mission statement is: To celebrate the beauty of the land, to conserve the gifts of nature and to challenge future generations to build on this heritage. The Franklin Garden Club supports this mission and is engaged in activitIes which encourage conservation, education, preservation and beautification throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Members of the Franklin Garden Club are especially excited to utilize the Riverkeeper grants toward making a valuable impact in our own community. By providing and protecting native flora and fauna with plantings and educating the public, ultimately the greatest beneficiary of the Riverkeeper grant is our river ecosystem.