Rappahannock Stream in Winter

Photo by Kaye Kohler 


Have you noticed more lights at night around our County? I have. From where I sit on a farm in the FT Valley, the number of field and garage beacons illumined in the valley at night has increased.

Or so it seems.

I surveyed a cross-section of fellow residents from around the County. All agreed the County was getting lit up more at night. No one was pleased about it, either.

But is the “citification’ of our night skies in Rappahannock a legitimate concern? The Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP) thinks so. I agree.

At its recent Annual Membership Meeting, RLEP launched a “Dark Skies Initiative” to encourage us to reduce the use of artificial light at night.


RLEP hosted its 44th Annual Meeting at Wasmund’s Copper Fox Distillery on Saturday, November 22. The event was well attended and enjoyed by all. The program portion of the evening introduced a video created to document the history of RLEP narrated by founder Phil Irwin.

Board member Sam Quinn gave a brief presentation on Weather Stations and the benefits of having better weather information available to farmers and landowners in the county. RLEP is sponsoring placing weather stations in strategic locations in Rappahannock County and making the information available to all residents.

President Rick Kohler introduced the topic of Dark Skies and board member Jeff Smith shared his research and photos on impact of lighting on night skies, and how to make easy adaptations to existing lighting. See Jeff’s article on this site.

Finally, the RLEP board of directors slate was presented to the membership and approved. The board includes: Jeff Christie, Aleta Gadino, Phil Irwin, Marshall Jones, Joe Keyser, Rick Kohler, Nina McKee, Ron Makela, Jim Manwaring, and Jeff Smith.

We are very pleased to report that RLEP has purchased three weather stations as a result of generous donations from two individuals and one foundation. We will soon have the stations installed and make weather information available to everyone. Including the station at Sunnyside Farm, which puts the number of stations at four, our goal of placing five stations throughout the county is well within reach.

We will keep you posted.

Currently, Rappahannock does not have detailed weather data records. What is available is extrapolated from outside sources. There are a few scattered weather stations keeping long-term records including one at Sunnyside Farm, one at the high school, and one in Gid Brown Hollow which has been operating for about ten years.

With more stations and better collaboration it is possible to monitor changes in weather patterns to help farmers and other landowners adapt to changes in climate. The data can provide accurate information on temperature, precipitation and other variables.

Because we sit at the top of our watershed, all of our water ultimately comes from precipitation, not from an upstream source. We have heard stories of springs drying, storms becoming more severe or weather patterns becoming less predictable. It is beneficial to monitor these changes.

Rappahannock is a rural and agricultural community and therefore dependent upon the quality and quantity of its water resources. To be informed stewards of our natural resources, increasing the capacity to collect, maintain, and analyze weather data will benefit our community.

After research and discussion, RLEP has determined that the benefit of strategically placed weather stations in Rappahannock is a worthwhile investment and is purchasing two weather stations.


This is the newly built, very attractive and functional RLEP Joe Keyser Bridge of the Town of Washington Butterfly Trail ... or RLEPJKBTWBT. Joe Keyser is a Board member of RLEP.


Contact Information

Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP)

PO Box 94, Washington, VA 2274

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

540 675-RLEP (7537)

Friends of RLEP

RLEP has connections with a number of environmental groups in the county and region including -


PEC - Piedmont Environmental Council

Rapp Flow

RCCA - Rappahannock County Conservation Alliance


RLEP promotes environmental public education, advocates for good community planning, and defends the quality of Rappahannock County environment. You can be involved in these activities in a number of ways.


Preserving the natural resources and rural character of Rappahannock County