Get the Cattle Out Campaign

Shenandoah Riverkeeper has identified 73 herds of cattle with direct access to the North Fork, South Fork, and mainstem Shenandoah River. A seemingly harmless or even healthy activity for the animals, cattle with direct river access cause tremendous damage to river banks and overall river health.

When cows enter the river their sharp hooves disturb sediment, upsetting delicate ecosystems. Once in the water, they deposit their waste directly into the river, posing serious health risks for thousands of recreational users downstream. Veterinarians also report that river water can actually pose health risks for the animal as well, versus clean drinking supplies from well or spring water.

We have sent five rounds of letter to landowners of the 73 herds of cattle with access to the Shenandoah River. Roughly 36 landowners have fenced their cattle out or made other changes to practices eliminating problems associated with cattle access.

Goal: 100% Cattle Exclusion. To create a cattle free Shenandoah, we work directly with herd owners and the State of Virginia to support fencing projects and cost share programs.

Latest Updates

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Mid-Term Report: More Work Needs to Be Done

The Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Mid-Term Report came out on July 27 — lots of scientific jargon, but the bottom line is that the region only achieved about 40 percent of its nitrogen reduction through the end of last year. I certainly care about the Chesapeake Bay, but my day to day dedication is about the […]


Keeping Cattle Out of the River is Healthier for the Cattle – and the River

Cattle trample vegetation and destroy a stream bank as they walk down the bank to enter the river. The damage can be severe. It denudes the streamside vegetation and increases the sediment load into the river along with all of the poop and urine. Healthy stream banks and their buffers protect the vegetation, providing needed […]


New Report on Livestock and Poultry Pollution Issues in the Shenandoah

On April 26, 2017, Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) came out with a report focusing on the livestock pollution issues in the Shenandoah. The Washington Post covered the report’s release, and perhaps out of an abundance of caution, focused a bit too heavily on the bacterial concerns. The report is extremely important, however, and is accurate […]


Mostly Good News for Virginia Ag in Governor’s Budget

Earlier this month, Governor McAuliffe announced Virginia’s $61 million investment in agricultural best management practices. The governor said as one of our largest private industries, Virginia’s agricultural sector is a key partner in our fight to curb pollution and improve water quality. He also noted that this investment in agriculture best management practices will give […]


Removing Cattle from the Shenandoah: Progress and Escalating Action

Progress: The Shenandoah Riverkeeper is continuing to vigorously push for the removal of cattle herds from the Shenandoah River and its tributaries. Despite the fact that we have seen progress by successfully prompting dozens of landowners to remove their herds from the river, it’s become clear that escalating advocacy is required to meet our goal […]