Join Matt Bright for a Conservation Walk at Marie Butler Leven Preserve

Marie Butler Leven Preserve offers 20 acres of rich woodlands and meadows that are being managed step-by-step into a virtual library of plants native to the greater Washington, D.C. area. This visit to the Preserve will be split between a walk through the preserve and helping with management of invasives and planting of natives. The walk will pass by a partially restored meadow with a mix of native forbs and grasses as well as remnant turf grasses, and down the wooded slopes towards Pimmit Run to a small seepage-fed wetland. Volunteers will be given a tour of restoration efforts of the park as well as native flora of note.  The group will be working on removing Vinca from an area where it threatens native populations of Phlox divaricata and Erythronium americanum.

Be prepared! Given the work, come with sturdy shoes, appropriate clothing for avoiding ticks, and gloves if you prefer. Also sunscreen, bug spray, and drinking water. Gloves and tools will be provided.

Matt Bright is Conservation Manager at the Earth Sangha, where he has worked full-time since 2011 on plant propagation, conservation, and restoration here in Northern Virginia and in the rural Dominican Republic. He lives on site at Marie Butler Leven Preserve with his wife Katherine Isaacson, who is the Outreach and Development Coordinator also at the Earth Sangha. Matt is a Certified Horticulturist with the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, a member of the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) and an instructor for the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists. Before joining the Sangha full-time, Matt attended Kenyon College in Ohio, where he also worked as a volunteer firefighter.

Sponsored by VNPS, this program is free and open to the public. However, space is limited so please click here to REGISTER.

To CANCEL your registration or ask a QUESTION, please email vnps.pot@gmail.com.

Marie Butler Leven Preserve

1501 Kirby Lane, McLean VA  22101

Saturday, May 26th

1.00 -3.00 pm

Grasses: the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly, 12 July

Botanist and grass enthusiast Sarah Chamberlain speaks on the grasses of the Mid-Atlantic region: natives useful for growing in your yard, naturalized non-natives, and the invasive exotics that pose a threat to native landscapes; how to tell who’s who, and what we know about how to get rid of the bad actors.

Arlington Central Library
1015 N Quincy St, Arlington, VA 22201
Thursday, 12 July 2018
7.30-9.00 pm

Sponsored by the Virginia Native Plant Society. This program is free and open to the public.

Cranberry Lake Film and Talk

Cranberry Lake is a 17-minute documentary about forest ecology students taking immersive field courses in the Adirondacks.  The film explores the connection between experiential learning and environmental stewardship.

After the feature presentation Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) Potowmack Chapter president Alan Ford will moderate a Question and Answer session about the challenges, issues, and solutions to native forest, streams, wetlands, and wildlife conservation in the greater D.C. region.

Zoya Baker is an award-winning filmmaker and animator based in New York City. Her work includes films, documentaries, commercials, and television shows. Zoya received a BFA in Film & Television at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is currently pursuing an MFA at Hunter College Integrated Media Arts program.

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road
Alexandria, VA 22312
Thursday, 14 June 2018
7.30 pm – 9.00 pm

Sponsored by the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS).  VNPS programs are free and open to the public.

Become part of the Habitat Network

Cornell Ornithology Lab and The Nature Conservancy have joined together to create Habitat Network, the first citizen science social network. Habitat Network is a citizen science project designed to cultivate a richer understanding of wildlife habitat, for  professional scientists and people concerned with their local environments.

The Network collects data by asking individuals across the country to, literally, draw maps of their backyards, parks, farms, favorite birding locations, schools, and gardens. They connect you with your landscape details and provide tools for you to make better decisions about how to manage landscapes sustainably.

The kinds of questions they are seeking to answer with your help:

  • What practices improve the wildlife value of residential landscapes?
  • Which of these practices have the greatest impact?
  • Over how large an area do we have to implement these practices to really make a difference?
  • What impact do urban and suburban wildlife corridors and stopover habitats have on birds?
  • Which measures (bird counts? nesting success?) show the greatest impacts of our practices?

Service Project C253-Habitat Yard Mapping is approved for credit for FMN graduates. You can map your own yard, a local park, or other public or private property for which you have access permission. 

Learn more

Attend 2018 Wildflower Symposium: 18-20 May 

The 30th annual Wintergreen Spring Wildflower Symposium offers diverse coverage of wildflowers and mountain ecosystems. The setting has more than 30 miles of hiking trails and convenient access to diverse geological sites. Participants learn about botany, geology, entomology, ornithology and ecology from 17 speakers and instructors.

Come learn from:

Dr. Tom Akre- Director of Virginia Working Landscapes, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Dr. Barbara Abraham- Adjunct Professor, Christopher Newport University and Retired Professor, Hampton
University

Dr. Chuck Bailey- Director and Chair, Department of Geology, College of William and Mary

Doug Coleman-  Field Botanist; Executive Director, The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen

Gerry DeWitt- Nature Photographer

Dr. Mary Jane Epps- Assistant Professor of Biology, Mary Baldwin University

Dr. Linda Fink- Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Ecology, Sweet Briar College

Allen Hale- Owner, Buteo Books & Field Ornithologist, Virginia Society of Ornithology

Clyde Kessler- Birding and Insect Enthusiast, Regional Editor of Virginia Birds

Shawn Kurtzman- Biologist, Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech

Sarah Loken- Professional Macro photographer of the insect/wildflower connection

Chris Ludwig- Chief Biologist, Virginia Division of Natural Heritage & Co-Author, Flora of Virginia

Dr. Chip Morgan- Board Member, Flora of Virginia and Member of the Edith and Theodore Roosevelt Pine
Knot Foundation Board

Dr. Janet Steven- Associate Professor of Biology, Christopher Newport University

Nancy Walters-Donnelly- Director of Activities, Massanutten Resort

Dr. Dennis Whigham- Senior Botanist, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center & Founding Director,
North American Orchid Conservation Center

Tom Wiebolt- Retired Curator, Massey Herbarium, Vice President, Virginia Botanical Associates and contributor,
Flora of Virginia

 

Schedule and registration

Attend the Smithsonian Botanical Symposium, 18 May

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany, presents Plants in the Past: Fossils and the Future, in collaboration with the United States Botanic Garden. Present-day plant diversity is rich and varied, but the majority of plant species to have ever lived are now extinct. Knowledge of the past is key to understanding the origins of today’s plant diversity and to illuminating the evolutionary processes that generate biodiversity. The study of prehistoric floras (the fields of paleobotany and paleoecology) also provides key evidence for subjects such as paleozoology, the formation of the Earth’s atmosphere, and climate change.

Warner Bros. Theater
Smithsonian National Museum of American History (location is a change from year’s past)
1300 Constitution Ave NW in Washington, DC 20560
Friday 18 May 2018
9am-8 pm

Registration is free and open to the public.

Hear the Story of the Restoration of Huntley Meadows Park

Thursday, 3 May,  7-8.30 pm

 Woodend Sanctuary, 8940 Jones Mill Rd., Chevy Chase, MD

Hear Cathy Ledec, President of Friends of Huntley Meadows Park (FOHMP), tell the fascinating story of the restoration of Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, VA.

From colonial farms to a failed dream for an enormous airport to road surface testing, anti-aircraft battery hosting, and Cold War radio listening station, Huntley Meadows has had an exciting past. That excitement continues into the present day, when after the federal government turned over 1,261 acres to Fairfax County for a park, beavers quickly returned to the wetland and began to change how water flowed through the landscape. Biodiversity in animal and plant species returned, and today you can walk through a beautiful, highly diverse wetland along a network of well-maintained boardwalks and trails. Humans have helped the process of restoration along, working alongside the beavers and ensuring a beautiful natural resource is open to all and showcases an amazing hemi-marsh ecosystem.

Coffee and dessert will be provided while you enjoy an inspiring presentation on how local conservation is achieved in our region.

This program is May’s Conservation Cafe, presented by the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS).  Your $10 registration goes to support the ANS Conservation Program. Click here to register.

Vernal Pool Exploration: Adventure and Education

On a recent sunny April afternoon, educator and vernal pool expert Michael Hayslett led a captivating exploration of vernal pools in the Accotink Creek watershed. Vernal, or ephemeral, pools are seasonal wetlands that provide essential habitat for a variety of life and breeding grounds for frogs and salamanders. Hayslett is conducting an inventory of vernal pools in Fairfax County as part of an initiative by the Fairfax County Park Authority.  He shared his vast knowledge with locals from conservation volunteer groups, youthful naturalists and local governments. Vernal pools are vulnerable to a variety of threats associated with human impact, and this inventory will support efforts to monitor and protect them.

Hayslett nets the pool. Photo by D. Lincoln.

After decontaminating his boots by scrubbing them in a tub of bleach and water to protect amphibians from the dreaded chytrid fungus, Hayslett waded into a pool and began swooping the water with a net. He explained that in order for a pool to be classified as a vernal pool, it must house at least one indicator species. In this region there are four indicator species; the presence of wood frogs, spotted salamanders, marbled salamanders, or the less common fairy shrimp would indicate that the water is a vernal pool.

Hayslett scooped tadpoles into Ziploc® bags filled with water and handed them to his enthralled crowd, talking them through the steps to identify the tadpoles. Did we have an indicator species? How long were the tadpoles? Were their backs very black? Did their bellies have a golden tinge? Bingo. They were wood frog tadpoles, an indicator species: this was a vernal pool. Hayslett had hoped to also find fairy shrimp.

Invertebrates collected at the site.  Photo by D. Lincoln.

While he did not find any fairy shrimp that afternoon, Hayslett has discovered some in Fairfax County.  Unlike frogs and salamanders, fairy shrimp never leave the pool, even as it dries out, but their eggs can remain viable in a dry environment for hundreds of years, hatching only when rains replenish the pool. The eggs can be transported to other pools by wind and by birds.

But why would anything adapt to a pool that’s constantly drying out? The biggest advantage is that fish can’t inhabit them so there’s no competition or predation from hungry fish. The disadvantage, of course, is that these fleeting pools can dry up before the creature has matured from its aquatic to its terrestrial stage, for example, from being a tadpole that needs water to survive, to a frog that can live on land and only needs water to breed. In Virginia, vernal pools range from natural upland wetlands independent of a stream, some of which date back twenty thousand years, to manmade structures that become functional vernal pools.

As the hike proceeded up the trail along the west side of Lake Accotink, the group moved on to a large manmade pond near the old railroad bed.   Some surmise the pond, which is about the size of a baseball field, was built in the 19th century to hold water for the steam locomotives.  Although the pond had held more than a foot of water a month ago, it was now a mud flat. The reason? A stand pipe, that was built to keep the water below a certain level, had been deliberately caved in, allowing the pond to drain under the railroad bed to the lake.  A dead and dried-out mass of wood frog eggs indicated that the pond could be productive as a vernal pool if it was not intentionally drained.

Smashed stand pipe. Photo by D. Lincoln.

Ironically, many such drainage efforts in the 20th century were intended to control mosquitoes. As it turns out, the mud flats are highly productive mosquito breeding grounds, whereas the damselflies and salamanders, who thrive in vernal pools, actually feed on mosquitoes and decimate mosquito populations. This provided an object lesson in how vernal pools have been destroyed through incorrect practices, but they could be brought back to productivity with relatively simple restorative measures.

Water levels in many Lake Accotink Park pool complexes have been controlled by culvert pipes installed to drain high water toward Accotink Creek. Fairfax County’s vernal pools are vulnerable to a variety of threats associated by human impact on the environment, and hopefully Hayslett’s inventory will support efforts to protect them. Hayslett encouraged anyone who has knowledge of a vernal pool that may not have been inventoried to contact him: Principal Consultant, Virginia Vernal Pools, LLC, www.virginiavernalpools.org.

Submitted by: Dave Lincoln and Beverley Rivera, Friends of Accotink Creek

See raptors up close

Saturday, April 21st, 10.00am – Noon
Belle Haven Park, 1250 Mount Vernon Trail, Alexandria, VA

Come see and photograph live raptors like barn and barred owls, hawks and more up close at Belle Haven Park on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Co-sponsored by Friends of Dyke Marsh, the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, and the National Park Service. This is a great event for kids of all ages. Free, no need to RSVP.

What on Earth are we doing for Earth Day at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park?

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

5040 Walney Road, Chantilly VA

1.00 – 4.00 pm, Sunday,  April 22nd

Come and celebrate Earth Day at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park! Learn how plastics affect our environment and our park. Explore what we can do to reduce, reuse, restore and recycle through walks, talks and games.
This free program runs from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, call 703-631-0013.  Learn more.