Friends of the Occoquan is a non-profit organization of local citizens who preserve and maintain the natural integrity of the Occoquan River and other Virginia watersheds by promoting community awareness through public and private partnerships.
Vision of the Friends
To energize individuals, community and business groups to take on the challenge of keeping Northern Virginia’s Reservoirs clean, by controlling excessive sedimentation and pollution. This message will be brought to schools, civic groups and community organizations, as well as local and federal government agencies.
Coordinate watershed management efforts and programs.
Open communications and develop cooperation among intergovernmental jurisdictions regarding the watersheds.
Provide decision makers, policy makers, and citizens with accurate information.
Develop public and private partnerships focused on maintaining the natural integrity of drinking water sources.
Engage the community, including the Spanish speaking population, to become stakeholders of our rivers and streams.
Education and Coordination FOTO is working with community groups, schools, state and local governments to promote Northern Virginia's watershed preservation.
FOTO continues to expand contacts with other groups to enlarge watershed stakeholders. Installation of international signs along the watershed is one of our projects.
FOTO is proceeding to engage the Spanish speaking community of Northern Virginia to become stakeholders of our watersheds and become active in maintaining clean and safe our rivers. In addition to the bilingual signs described below, we will be installing other bilingual signs in Fairfax and PrinceWilliamCounties. Also we are preparing videos, literature and some TV programs.
Next Cleanup: Saturday, April 18, 2015
FOTO’s 2014 Spring Cleanup
April 12th, a beautifulsunny Saturday morning, attracted many volunteers to join FOTO, the Neabsco Action Alliance, PWTSC and PWC Parks & Recreation, to remove litter from the Occoquan River and its shores.
175 wonderful volunteers, many of them recurring volunteers signed up with FOTO to remove 118 large bags of trash, 16 bags of recyclables, 8 tires including one truck tire, several wooden pallets, 2 barrels, 1 large propane tank, several foam pieces, 3 planters, an array of model cars, a piece of link fencing, a plastic fence, a cable spool, drug paraphernalia and wooden planks.
Boy Scout & Girl Scout Troops and Packs 1369, 1766, 932 and their leaders and JROTC cadets from Woodbridge and Forest Park High school and their leaders, students from Benton Middle and Garfield High school’s Leo & Green Club came out to help. Long time FOTO volunteers John Rothrock, Duane DeBruyne and Glenn Richman brought their pontoon boats to haul the heavy debris. SEV1 Tech Company, the Rotary Club of Manassas, Optimist Club members, several church groups and many families joined in the cleanup. Canoeist Jim Zawlocki who couldn’t attend the cleanup on Saturday, collected 3 large bags, 2 tires, pallets and a plastic fence for pick up at the Bull Run Marina. At the Lake Ridge Marina, Park Manager Ron Neuhaus was extremely helpful to provide FOTO with the boats needed.
For the younger generation, FOTO’s Helga Perrin demonstrated an environmental display on conservation & stewardship of the environment and the importance of wetlands.
On a romantic note, one couple, Christine & Jim who met three years ago at one of FOTO’s cleanups at the Lake Ridge Marina, told us that they are now engaged to be married. They said they credit FOTO for bringing them together.
FOTO thanks FCWA, American Water, VA DCR, especially Bonnie Phillips, and the Chesapeake Bay Legislative Committee, the Town of Occoquan, Liz Lockhard of Comcast Cable, Randi Reid of the Old Bridge Observer and NVRPA, for their assistance in promoting FOTO’s goals.
Mary Zamon, president of the Occoquan Water League (OWL), presented the Lenehan Award to German & Alex Vanegas for their contribution of the preservation of the Occoquan River. Other recipient honored were Earnie Porta & Jim Zawlocki. The ceremony took place at the Bottle Stop Wine Shop in the beautiful little town of Occoquan, VA. German accepted the award in the name of the volunteers that every year work to keep the Occoquan clean. Alex thanked all the leaders, like Mary and Earnie who help FOTO to accomplish its goals.
Rain Barrels Workshop Coming! Get your own barrel.
FOTO in cooperation with Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District and American Water will conduct a workshop, late July. Please call if you are interested.
From the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District:
Why Rain Barrels?
Rain barrels can be placed under your downspouts to capture runoff from the roof. By installing a rain barrel at your home you will:
Provide your plants with water they will love! Unlike treated water, which is "softened" with dissolved minerals, rain water is naturally soft. The water stored in your rain barrel is better than municipal water for washing your car and watering indoor or outdoor plants.
Save money and water! Instead of water from the tap or faucet, you can use the water you've saved to keep your home landscape happy and growing. You'll also reduce your municipal water bill!
Protect the Chesapeake Bay! Water stored in your rain barrel won't rush off into our streams. Instead, as you use the stored rain water around the home and garden, it will absorb slowly into the ground replenishing groundwater supplies. By decreasing the volume of storm runoff, rain barrels also help moderate stream erosion and the resulting pollution that is impairing the Chesapeake Bay
Please join us to celebrate the Fairfax County Springfest and help to plant some trees at the Occoquan Regional Park on April 26, 2014, 10:00 am.
You are invited to the Annual Occoquan Spring Fest, May 17, 2014.
After hors d’oeuvres and socializing, Renate G. Vanegas conducted the US Flag Pledge of Allegiance, Lynn Jost sang the National Anthem and Alex Vanegas presented the award certificates. Forty attendees in addition to FOTO’s Board of Directors, John Rothrock, Reza Rafi and German Vanegas were present. Award recipients were: Donna Flory, Elaine Sours, Ed Powell, Bull Run Rotary Club; Duane DeBruye, Lake Braddock Crew; Bob Lerch, José Gayoso, Christine Lerch, Bill Olson, Mike Smedley, Deb and David Buffington, John Houser, NVRPA; William Walsh, American Water; Christine Vineski, Lane Construction Co.; Claudia Cruise, Ernie Porta, Jane England and SGM (RET) Joe L. Neely, SFC (RET) Fred Elliott, LTC (RET) Victor Burnette, LTC (RET) Franklyn Matthews, 1SG (RET) Daniel Jackson; Mike and Judy Lenehan, Vernon Bahm, Cub Scout Pack 1365; Hassan Thompson Girl Scout Troop 3287; Rich Sackett, Boy Scout Troop 1369; Glenn Richman, Carol Amoakuh and Wendy Wilkerson Cub Pack 1350; Randy Reid, Aileen Streng, Deb Oliver, PWC Public Works; Hafez G Al Haj, Bonnie Phillips, Michelle Mcquigg and John Fowler.
FOTO is promoting a “Digital Storytelling” among our volunteers using Flip video cameras provided by Cisco, via Techsoup. A Flip camera with the flip upload and edit software, allows the user to film, download to a computer and upload. Please send us a 2 to 3 minute video of activities that you are involved in. Preferable these activities should be related to the environment, watershed or water conservation. We will show these videos in our web page and on our youtube site.
Continuing with our educational programs we conducted a water and watershed conservation presentation to a group of youngsters at the Lake Ridge Marina, Woodbridge, VA., June, 2011. Helga Perrin presented material covering: water conservation, wetlands, Occoquan reservoir, aquifers, etc. Assisting with this presentation was Arianna Mcquillen, who just finished Lake Braddock HS and is on her way to attend MIT. See below this page to read more about Arianne.
To read the "FAMILY PREPAREDNESS" message click here
FOTO receives Conservationist of the Year Award February 26, 2011
PRINCEWILLIAMCOUNTY, On Friday, February 25, 2011, the Friends of the Occoquan (FOTO) received the Conservationist of the Year Award at the 33rd Annual Prince William Ducks Unlimited Annual Banquet and Auction. The Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District (PWSWCD) nominated FOTO for the 2010 Ducks Unlimited Conservationist of the Year Award.Kate Norris of the PWSWCD stated that “FOTO has truly been a leader in the community, helping the environment through meaningful projects, valuable partnerships, and volunteer mobilization.”Alex Vanegas, Executive Director of FOTO, received the award on behalf of the organization. The award was presented by Ben Thompson, Vice Chairman of the PWSWCD, and Chip Rohr of the Ducks Unlimited.
The Friends of the Occoquan is a non-profit organization that was formed in October1999. The organization consists of local citizens whose mission is to preserve and maintain the natural integrity of the OccoquanRiver and other Virginia watersheds by promoting community awareness through public and private partnerships.
FOTO has consistently energized individuals, community and business groups to take on the challenge of keeping Northern Virginia’s Reservoirs clean, by educating and coordinating events to remove as well as control man made pollution. Throughout the past decade, this message was conveyed to schools, civic groups and community organizations, as well as local and federal government agencies. Over the past ten years, FOTO has consistently worked to coordinate watershed management efforts and programs including the Semi-Annual Fall and Spring Cleanups, Watershed Education Activities at Prince William County Public Schools, participating in Regional Watershed Taskforces, and the development of Public Service Announcements.These efforts are very significant since the Occoquan Reservoir is a major source of our drinking water here in Northern Virginia.
As part of FOTO’s outreach efforts, the organization has successfully engaged the public through various programs. One successful program is to connect with the Spanish speaking community of Northern Virginia to become stakeholders of our watersheds and become active in maintaining clean and safe our rivers. As part of this effort, FOTO has installed bilingual signs videos, literature and some TV programs.
Altogether, the Friends of the Occoquan have played a major role in preserving one of the region’s most important natural resources, the Occoquan Watershed.FOTO’s perseverance and dedication to environmental has been sustained through the efforts of its volunteers and members as well as the strong bond it has developed with local groups and organizations that share the same passion.
So it is with Friends of the Occoquan. Thanks to Volunteers we have been able to accomplish our goals: “conserve our watersheds.” Some volunteers keep coming back year after year: the father/mother volunteering after their children graduated from high school, the student or scout who started volunteering during high school and now after graduating from college.To all those who faithfully return year after year we extend many THANKS!
Arianna McQuillen a volunteer wrote the following letter.
11/20/09- Fish Advisory for the Potomac River Basin. For more information go to our NEWS page or visit: