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Stewardship Virginia Resource Guide

Stepping into Stewardship: A Resource Guide for Getting Involved
in Volunteer Stewardship Activities

Soil and Water

Buffer Your Backyard - If you own property by a stream, river, lake or wetland, consider buffering it. Buffers are plants other than grass along the water's edge. They filter and slow water draining into a waterway. Excess water running off lawns, roadways and sidewalks during storms can pick up unprotected soil, toxic substances, heavy metals and nutrients that may have been applied to land. These pollutants harm the health of local waterways and larger watersheds.

  • Protect Virginia's waterways and have a healthy, vibrant yard. Download A Virginian's Year-round Guide to Yard Care to learn how.
  • Want to know more about Riparian Forest Buffers, how to plant and care for trees, and how to write a stewardship plan for your forest land? You'll find helpful information at the Va. Dept. of Forestry's website.
  • Use native plants for conservation, restoration and landscaping. For a free list of native plants by region, habitat, type and recommended use, call the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at 804-786-7951 or click here.

Water monitoring - If you are interested in the health of our waterways, consider water quality monitoring. Sample a local creek or stream and share results with other monitors as part of DEQ's Water Quality Monitoring Programs.

Clean up litter - Help remove litter in and along Virginia's waterways and roadways by supporting or organizing a local cleanup project. Anti-litter activities help local businesses, civic groups, watershed associations, churches, schools, scouts and others step into stewardship. Here are some programs that can help.

Invasive Species

Get rid of "the weeds" - Curb the attack of invasive exotic plant species on our landscape. Learn which ones live nearby and what you can do to stop them from spreading. Getting rid of "the weeds" can be a great project for landowners, youth groups, conservation organizations and others. Click here for a list of the state's invasive species and management information.

Improve Recreational Resources

Trail projects - Trails offer transportation alternatives, connect communities, parks and neighborhoods, and provide serene places for families to get away from traffic, noise and pollution. They provide a valuable wilderness experience and teach children the importance of natural resources conservation. Whether it's hiking, biking or horseback riding, trails are great places to enjoy the outdoors. For information on trail building and maintenance opportunities, click here. You might also find DCR's Greenways and Trails Toolbox useful as well.
To help with a trail project, contact your local park, or a state park in your area. Click here or call 1-800-933-PARK to find a nearby state park.

Preserve Historic and Cultural Resources

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) invites volunteers to work with its artifacts. For details, call the chief curator at (804) 367-2323, ext. 134. Also, take part in Virginia Archaeology Month activities and events, which are held throughout the commonwealth, every October. Click here for details on either of these offerings. Click here to learn about other DHR educational resources, such as teaching kits, lesson plans and exhibits.

  • Historical Resources Education Kit - Organize a Virginia Archaeology Month event in October. For details and an event submission form, call (804) 367-2323, ext. 134.

Natural Heritage Resources

Virginians share the Old Dominion with a wide array of native plants and animals. The state ranks eighth in the United States for globally rare animals and 14th for globally rare plants.

Save the Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterfly populations have diminished dramatically over the last several years because of the loss of habitat and myriad other factors. Monarch butterflies are among many beneficial pollinators that are suffering a dramatic decline. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed and need an abundance of milkweed in order to survive. You can help by planting native plants for Monarchs. For a list of native plants beneficial to Monarchs, visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/monarch.


Teach others about outdoor and cultural resources. Good stewardship grows from creating awareness, understanding and appreciation for our outdoor resources. Teachers, youth leaders, civic organizations, sportsmen's groups and others can help set that stage by exposing children to the outdoors through educational activities and experiences. There are many educational resources and programs that can help. Listed below are just a few. Visit Virginia Naturally for more information.

Outdoor restoration can make schooling come alive and add meaning to science. Develop areas of the school campus or an off-site study area(s) in the community as an outdoor classroom.

Wildlife Habitat

Help build a better outdoors for fish and wildlife by enhancing habitat. It doesn't matter if you have a small backyard or a huge farm; there are many ways to improve wildlife habitat. Consider landscaping for songbirds, managing for deer, turkey or quail, or improving the fishing in your pond with artificial reefs. Habitat improvement projects are fun and rewarding and range from easy to intensive. Everybody can help.
Learn about the Va. Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries Landowner Incentive Program (LIP).

Become a Wildlife Mapper - Wildlife mappers are volunteers who submit observations to the state's wildlife database. This joint citizen-scientist team effort helps the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries keep track of the state's wildlife resources. To become a mapper, you must attend a half-day workshop. Wildlife mapping is a fun for children, citizens, community groups, and other city, county and state organizations. Click here for more information and a schedule of workshops.

Marine fisheries conservation - Tag a fish: Catch, tag and release fish with fellow saltwater fishermen. By participating in the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program (VGFTP), you help develop information needed to conserve and manage saltwater fish. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission sponsors this annual program. Participants register in December and January; training takes place in February and targets many popular saltwater species.

Special tagging events: The VGFTP is planning several one-day tagging events next year. Open to the public (some require pre-registration), you'll learn about tagging fish, talk with program managers and veteran taggers, and enjoy a little fishing.

Catch-and-release fishing: Catch-and-release fishing is a great way to learn about conservation first-hand. Learn about the best equipment and how to handle fish to ensure that they remain in good health. Many species of released fish are eligible for recognition through the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, and the Virginia Junior Angler Program recognizes only released fish. Click here to learn more about these programs.

Register your Stewardship Virginia event
Find an event near you
Stewardship Resource Guide
Gov. McAuliffe's announcement letter
Stewardship Virginia news release
Contribute to Stewardship Virginia

Contact Us

For more information on how to participate in or contribute to Stewardship Virginia,

call 1-877-42-WATER.
In Richmond call (804) 786-5056,
fax (804) 371-0315
or email: bonnie.phillips@dcr.virginia.gov.

Mailing Address:
Bonnie Phillips, DCR
600 E. Main St., 24th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
Department of Conservation and Recreation