Saturday morning at Willow Lake in the Sugarland Run neighborhood in Sterling was bustling with more than 80 volunteers who helped plant 134 trees and scrubs around the lake and a nearby field.

The community homeowners association received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Piedmont Environmental Council to make the initiative possible, and Premier Landscaping donated a crew to dig the holes for each tree.

“It’s fantastic to have that community support,” Loudoun County Urban Forester Evan Keto said. “It’s critical because these are the people who are going to be maintaining it and enjoying it for years to come.”

Keto said they planted a variety of trees that will range from 20 to 70 feet. They included bald cypress, swamp white oak, red maple, sycamore, river birch, red bud, and musclewood trees.

“For this project we tried to focus on water quality as well as aesthetics. So it’s something that people can look out their windows and see a beautiful landscape, but it’s also here to shade the water, filter out nutrients to improve the water quality and also there’s a lot of people in the community who love fishing and this will help,” Keto said.

Loudoun County Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), who represents the neighborhood, was one of the many volunteers in attendance. She said she wanted to do her part to help.

“This grant, along with some of the other folks doing things to help, maintains the beauty and sense of community that we have and that’s very important,” Volpe said. “I’m delighted to see the turnout of all the folks that came out today, young and old. … Sometimes a lot of focus is placed on western Loudoun for projects, I’m delighted to see a project in the eastern part of the county.”

The Sugarland Run HOA received the grant because a “strong connection” developed after a PEC workshop on planting and the connection between streams and people’s yards, Piedmont Environmental Council Loudoun Field Officer Gem Bingol said.

“It seemed like a perfect opportunity to take it to the next step,” Bingol said. “People love tree plantings and it seems like there is a lot of enthusiasm in the community for this project.”

Willow Lake, named for the weeping willow trees that died years ago, is stocked with minnows every year for mosquito abatement and is a popular fishing spot for residents. It will continue to be a favorite spot for residents enjoying the summer weather and scenery.

“Adding the trees is just going to make it pretty,” Sugarland Run HOA Secretary Kevin McKernin said. “We’re an older community so we have a lot of mature trees. To be able to plant more for both an environmental impact and for the beauty is a great thing.”

http://www.leesburgtoday.com/news/sugarland-run-residents-dig-into-grant-funded-planting-project/article_174a28f2-ecf6-11e4-ae91-2bb61a278830.html