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The day to day joy of living surrounded by all the beauty and life that is Scott Hollow Farm is profound. For us, restoring this land and then protecting it and its native inhabitants for the future is a privilege. That is why, when we see something that is not as it should be, we work to make it right. It is extraordinarily satisfying work, but we also recognize that as the current stewards, it is our responsibility to leave this farm, and the natural world surrounding it, healthier and more alive than we found it. Below is a brief history of the condition of the farm in 1998 and our efforts to restore the life and sustainable balance of this small piece of the beautiful Virginia highlands. Lois’s pictures document completed projects and/or their results. 

Timeline of Restoration Activities

At the time Scott Hollow Farm was purchased in July 1998, it had been leased for many years for grazing and growing corn, and parts had been recently timbered. Cattle roamed freely through most of the open land and much of the forest. With only boundary fencing, cattle had unfettered access to the farm’s extensive wetlands, ponds, and the Calfpasture River which flows through the entire property. Over-grazing and the nutrient imbalance from over application of poultry litter was not only impacting the farm’s sustainability but also severely compromising water quality. Wildlife habitat was non-existent. The wetland areas were denuded and void of any life and the banks of the Calfpasture displayed all the adverse impacts of unrestricted cattle access. Clear cutting of steep slope woodlands damaged the root systems that stabilized the shale-based soils, adding to the runoff challenges. In short, the farm, its wildlife habitats, the woodlands, the wetlands, and the river were all in decline.



  • 34 acres along the river and tributaries were planted with hardwoods.

  • 65 acres of bottom land on the east side of the Calfpasture was planted in warm season grasses to create habitat and begin the slow process of returning the soil to a more balanced state.

  • 100 to 300-foot vegetated buffers were created along the river and tributaries.

  • Fences were built along the edge of the buffers confining cattle to very specific non wetland pastures. 

  • Springs were developed into a watering system for the cattle.



  • We stopped the over-application of poultry litter.

  • We temporarily removed cattle from the farm until internal fencing was installed.

  • Timbering on the shale slopes was halted. 


Since beginning our conservation efforts in 1999, we have witnessed and celebrated the following results:

  • All wet areas are protected, have returned to a natural vegetative state, and are alive with vibrant and diverse wildlife communities. Ducks are everywhere!

  • Wildlife buffers and planted meadows support all the species known to belong in the upper James watershed. The only significant disappointment is we have been unsuccessful in reestablishing bobwhite quail.

  • The woodlands are recovering and support all manner of native wildlife including many on DGIF’s threatened species list. Most especially, we have a significant population of whip-poor-wills. 

  • We are particularly proud of the fact that the Calfpasture River, except for just two miles further downstream, is no longer listed as impaired. In addition to our efforts, this is the result of our neighbors along the entire river also placing conservation easements and implementing recommended “best practices.” Now the focus needs to shift quickly to repairing the previously damaged banks and reestablishing the natural water course.

Wetland Restoration

Our wetland restoration project is under way!

Wetland Restortion


staying vigilant with

our conservation efforts

  • We will continue our efforts to restore the property’s natural ecosystems, with particular emphasis on the wetland areas.

  • We hope to further our outreach to others facing the challenges of land, wetlands, and upland habitat restoration by offering our plans, efforts and results to those who also believe what we’ve lost can be resurrected. 




Credit and thanks!

Mike Avey

Our very special neighbor, friend, and extraordinary master of all trades.
Bobby Whitescarver

Faye Cooper

Valley Conservation Council
Laura Thurman

Virginia Outdoors Foundation
Matt Booher

Virginia Cooperative Extension Service
Charlie Ivins

John Kaylor

Headwaters Soil and Conservation Service
Arne Peterson

Virginia Highlands Wood Duck Club
Kati Booth and
Karen Johnson

The Nature Conservancy 
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