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 and nation wide 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 challenges of keeping Virginia’s and the nations reservoirs and rivers 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 rivers and 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, federal, state and local governments to promote watershed preservation.
FOTO continues to expand contacts with other groups to enlarge watershed stakeholders. Installation of international signs along the watersheds is one of our projects.
FOTO is proceeding to engage the Spanish speaking community 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 DC, Fairfax and PrinceWilliamCounties. Also we are preparing videos, literature and some TV programs.
Despite COVID19, with precautions in place—a successful Occoquan River Cleanup
Colorful October has arrived, and with it, at 6 ft. apart, no long signup lanes, the Friends of the Occoquan (FOTO) conducted their fall cleanup. One hundred and thirty-two masked volunteers arrived to join us on October 10th at the Lake Ridge Park/Marina and the Town of Occoquan. Then, on October 17th at the Fountainhead Park/Marina, and the Occoquan Regional Park. Volunteers filled up 35 recyclable and 41 trash bags. Boy and Girl Scouts came out in full force, Bear Den 1353, Pack 1373 with 22 members, Troop 1369, and Kristin Saul with her 4H Club, and High School students from different schools to fulfill their community service hours, and the Young Professionals. Since we were not permitted to have boats at the Lake Ridge Marina, a few larger items could not be reached and were left behind. Many couples came and parents with their children to make a difference. A big Thank You and kudos go out to all of our volunteers!
We are also thankful for our supporters, the Fairfax County Water Authority, American Water, the Chesapeake Bay conservation Fund, Clean Virginia Waterways, the Northern Virginia Park Authority, and the Town of Occoquan.
November 6, 2020
Thanks to Friends of the Occoquan volunteers Dianne Schimpf-Meetre, Jessica Meetre and Susan Kilby Hylton aka the A-Team, for helping us get this trash to land! Thanks to the management and staff at Fountainhead Regional Park for their help and support.
Everyday Use Your Power For Good!
Panther Fresh Community Garden- Norfolk, Virginia
Panther Fresh Garden in Norfolk, Virginia Update
Sharon Barnes writes:
We meet up at the garden weekly on Tuesday evenings at 6 pm to beat the heat. Watering is a top priority at this time of the season. While rain storms are seeming to mostly evade us, we have the rain barrel positioned underneath an air conditioner drain pipe. The condensation drip fills the barrel. I just started a simple compost bin and am asking garden volunteers to bring fruit and veggie scraps from home to get it going. Over the spring and now summer we have harvested blueberries, Swiss chard, peas, lettuce, zucchini squash, ikra, beans and corn. There are 4-5 baby watermelons and at least one cantaloupe on the vines and sunflowers galore. I hope to get informational signage installed before the end of summer. It is a labor of love! I'll keep you posted. Thank you FOTO for your continued support.
TO OUR WONDERFUL FOTO VOLUNTEERS---Once again we have to cancel our Occoquan River cleanup scheduled for May 30th, due to the continued restrictions in place because of COPID19. As soon as we are permitted to go to the parks and on the water by boat, we'll let you know. Our beautiful river is waiting! STAY SAFE!
Kudos go out to Matthew McKinnon who added eight more hours to earn his "Citizen in the Nation Merit Badge" by picking up eight bags of trash along the Occoquan and Chesapeake bay area.
Earth Day Wednesday April 22, 2020
April 22nd is Earth Day! Since we were forced to cancel our April 18th river cleanup due to COVOID19, I would like to remind our wonderful volunteer that they can still do small things to help in water preservation by picking up small trash items when walking or jogging along the roadways. Even a candy wrapper or a discarded cigarette will end up in the water. Other activities might include:
Take a walk and observe nature
Plan a food or pollinator garden
Plant a tree
Try a recyclable art activity
Watch an environmental video
Make a bird feeder
Look for Wildflowers
Take nature inspired pictures
Draw or paint nature inspired themes
Commit to taking care of your planet!
Yesterday on my evening walk I ran into this trash warrior picking up trash alongside a residential road with her mom. Her name is Senna and she is a Daisy member working on one of her environmental badges. What a great eco friendly activity for parents and their children. Thanks for your hard work Senna and Mom!
Rain Barrel Workshop Freedom High School
FOTO members Sonia Monson and Renate Vanegas conducted a hands-on rain barrel workshop at Dr. Jessica Doiron's Pre AP/Biology class at Freedom High school's Center for Environmental/Natural Studies. About 20 enthusiastic students assembled four 50 gallon pickling barrels into rain harvesters to be used for water conservation and runoff.
Stop Mowing and Start Growing!
February 8, 2020
Stop Mowing, Start Growing was the theme for the symposium on Native Plants, sponsored by various agencies of Prince William County, VA Cooperative Extension, Plant NOVA Natives Plant, and many others. 🌲, Native 🌱 for 🐝 , 🦅 and butterflies 🦋! Keep our 💦 clean👍 @ Northern Community College Woodbridge Campus.
FOTO Anniversary and Awards Program 2019
KUDOS to all the FOTO Volunteers and Participants On Saturday, September 14, 2019, FOTO celebrated its 20th Anniversary of cleaning up the Occoquan Watershed. Pat Conway, the former mayor of Occoquan invited FOTO to conduct their 1st cleanup. As FOTO grew, with the help of 10,000 volunteers, 90+ tons of trash was removed from the River and Reservoir. The present mayor of the Town of Occoquan, Dr. Ernie Porta provided the beautifully restored Town Hall for the event. After a light lunch, Alex Vanegas and Sonia Monson presented the well-deserved awards to 30 participants who so generously helped FOTO over the years.
INSIDENOVA Article on FOTO's Spring 2018 Cleanup click here
Friends of the Occoquan would like to thank the Krieg Family from Norfolk, Virginia for opening their home and garden to us. A big thank you to Isabelle Krieg for teaching FOTO all about raising Swallowtail butterflies. So much to learn from our Eco Kids! Note from Isabelle's Mom: Isabelle was interviewed by Friends of the Occoquan for her work with Butterflies 🦋 This was such an amazing experience for Isabelle.....she has worked very hard and gained so much knowledge about Black swallowtail butterflies.How to raise and care for them🦋🦋..it's so cool for her to be able to share what she does to help Mother Earth🦋
Photo credits- Kelly Krieg
Make a Contribution or Donation:
Please send a check or money order payable to FOTO to the address below:
or pay with credit card using paypal by clicking the link below:
Friends of the Occoquan P.O. Box 1452 Woodbridge, VA 22195-1452 Tel. (703)624-7124