Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay: RiverTrends Water Quality Monitoring service project

The Fairfax chapter has approved a new citizen science service project (C257) to perform water chemistry testing in Chesapeake Bay watershed streams and rivers.

The Alliance’s citizen water quality monitoring program is a regional network of trained volunteers who perform monthly water quality tests that help track the condition of waterways flowing toward the Chesapeake Bay.

Each month,  volunteers complete an observational survey at their stream site and conduct tests for dissolved oxygen, pH, water clarity, salinity (where appropriate), temperature, and bacteria. Data is reported to the Alliance, which partners with other water quality monitoring groups in the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative.

Volunteers attend a training session where they learn about water quality and how to collect data following standardized protocols. Volunteers spend 1-2 hours monthly collecting data at their stream sites and completing the required tests within 8-48 hours, depending on the test. Volunteers complete a written report and submit data online or mail in the report. Volunteers may choose when they monitor, but they should try to monitor at the same time each month, although there is some flexibility for weather, etc. The Alliance would like each volunteer to monitor at least 10 times per year.

Data is annually submitted the to Virginia DEQ for use in the Virginia’s 305(b)/303(d) Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report to EPA, which summarizes water quality conditions and identified waters that do not meet water quality standards.

All volunteers are trained by Certified Watershed Coordinators under the Alliance’s Quality Assurance Program Plan (QAPP). Training includes an initial session where monitors learn about water quality and testing methods and an annual recertification session to check monitoring equipment, chemicals, and methods.

To learn more about the program, contact the program coordinator Amy Hagerdon at ahagerdon@allianceforthebay.org.

Review of Deep Look: PBS examines the mysteries of nature

Reviewed by Laura Anderko

We can all relate to the majesty of a mountain or the expansiveness of the ocean. And while many Fairfax Master Naturalists engage in activities that require an “eye for detail” such as counting caddisflies during stream monitoring, it is not always possible to capture the splendor of the life of a caddisfly.

Now in its fourth season, PBS Digital Studies and KQED San Francisco offer a series of nature videos entitled Deep Look. These 3- to 5-minute videos cover a wide range of topics, such as how the caddisfly builds a protective home of pebbles using a waterproof “tape”. The photography is stunning, using macrophotography and microscopy (in 4K resolution) providing detailed views of nature that are often overlooked or invisible to us. Decidedly better than our bug boxes with magnifying lid! 

But these videos offer more than the inside scoop on insects. Birds, sea life, plant life, animals, and how climate change impacts wildlife are also explored. Examples of topics include: 

Feathers and the owl’s quiet flight

Sea otter’s fur and the secret to staying warm

Life of sand

Death cap mushrooms in disguise 

Coral provides clues about weather 500 years ago

Episodes offer a topic of interest for everyone. New episodes are offered twice a month (complete watch list). For educators (elementary, high school and beyond), PBS Learning media provides a platform for students using the Deep Look videos. As a professor in public health, I found the episode on ticks fascinating with its images of how it uses its hooks to extract blood and ultimately, spread disease. I will be using it in the course I teach this fall. 

I encourage you to take a few minutes to observe nature “up close and personal” to gain a deeper appreciation of our natural world and the complexity of lives of even the smallest of creatures. And how our work as Master Naturalists helps in safeguarding nature, no matter how “small”. 

Want to review a resource? We’d love to hear from you. Instructions for submission await your click and commitment.

Plant NOVA Natives seeks volunteers for September events

Plant NOVA Natives is the joint marketing campaign of a coalition of non-profit, governmental, and private groups, all working to reverse the decline of native plants and wildlife in Northern Virginia. Their strategy is to encourage residents as well as public and commercial entities to install native plants as the first step toward creating wildlife habitat and functioning ecosystems on their own properties. All are welcome to participate in this collective action movement! ​

Events in need of volunteersPlease sign up here. No experience necessary! Just a basic understanding of why native plants are such a good idea.

• 9/22 Green Spring Garden Fall Garden Day – Dress up as a pollinator with a sign that says “Ask me about native plants.” Give out cards telling people how to find Plant NOVA Natives Guide.
• 9/23 Manassas Latino Festival – Spanish-speaking volunteers needed.
• 9/23 NatureFest – Runnymede Park, Herndon. Engage with kids – they have tons of ideas for you.
• 9/29 Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale. Sell Guides.

We need social media volunteers for outreach. Please help post content – email plantnovanatives@gmail.com.

Engage your neighbors in a community project. Would you like to engage your neighbors in the home habitat movement? Help pilot an Audubon-at-Home certification program for your neighborhood by organizing a “Habitat-in-Training” community, in which 60% of residents commit to plant at least one native plant as the first step toward eventual Audubon-at-Home certification for the community as a whole. Plant NOVA Natives is seeking volunteers who can help them figure out how to create a fun and easy program. Click here for details of this work in progress, and email plantnovanatives@gmail.com if you are interested.

Web person needed – The Wix software is user friendly. The work consists of occasional updates to existing pages and creation of new pages using text and photos which will be provided. They just need you to be adept enough at basic computer skills to be able to work independently and quickly.

Take advantage of fall native plant sales

We are fortunate in Northern Virginia to have many sources of native plants. In addition to the native-only nurseries – some of which propagate plants themselves from local seed sources – there are numerous vendors who set up shop at special plant sales in the spring and fall.

Find a list on the Plant NOVA Natives website. Scroll down to find the Fall Native Plant Sale portion.  You’ll also find the free, downloadable Guide to Native Plants of Northern Virginia.

If you are looking for particular plants, you can contact vendors in advance and ask for them. Traditional commercial nurseries are selling more and more native plants as well (but don’t expect to find natives at big box stores).

 

Learn how native plants support wildlife, September 12th

Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh to hear Dr. Desiree Narango speak about her research on how residential landscapes influence biodiversity.

Common yellow throat

The talk will focus on her research comparing how well native and nonnative trees provide food for insect-eating Carolina chickadees.  She will share results from her work that can help you choose trees and shrubs that will support habitat for birds and other backyard wildlife.  She is a postdoctoral researcher at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The program is sponsored by the Friends of Dyke Marsh and co-sponsored by Plant NOVA Natives, the Northern Virginia Bird Club, and the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society.

Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center, 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria VA

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

7:30 pm

 

 

Help at the Earth Sangha Pull-a-thon 10-12 August

Join Earth Sangha for a Pull-a-thon at the Marie Butler Leven Preserve this weekend!  The group is going to continue to focus on pulling mile-a-minute and Japanese stiltgrass from the woodland edge. It’s crucial to remove these invasives now before they set seed.

Marie Butler Leven Preserve, 1501 Kirby Road McLean, VA 22101

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10-12 August 2018

9 am – 12 pm

For more details, click here.

Get help with water-related issues from Conservation Assistance Program

Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District is now accepting site visit requests for both the Conservation Assistance Program (CAP) and the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP). Do you have a drainage and erosion problem? Are you interested in improving water quality in local watersheds and the Chesapeake Bay? Funding may be available for you to pursue these types of environmental projects at your home, Homeowners’ Association, or place of worship.

See details here to see if you qualify for either the Conservation Assistance Program or the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program.

August stream monitoring activities: Attend and help

Join volunteers throughout Fairfax County who monitor water quality in local streams. The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District trains volunteers to assess ecological conditions in streams based on the presence and abundance of benthic macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects). Volunteers also learn how to take chemical measurements about nitrate/nitrite and turbidity. Training includes indoor and field workshops and mentoring by experienced monitors.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Stream Monitoring Workshop: Reston
Time:  1:00 – 4:00pm
Join Will Peterson of the Reston Association as he guides you through the monitoring protocol on one of the many beautiful streams that flows through Reston Association’s natural areas. For more information and to RSVP, please contact Will.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Stream Monitoring Workshop: Cub Run, Centerville
Time:  9-11:30am
Come out to Cub Run in Centerville, VA to learn more about benthic macroinvertebrates and how they can be used to determine the water quality of a stream. RSVP to Dan Schwartz or register through Fairfax County’s Volunteer Management System.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Stream Monitoring Workshop: Wolftrap Creek, Vienna
Time: 1 – 4pm
Join Certified Volunteer Monitor Ho Yeon Jeong and the Conservation District at Ho Yeon’s adopted site along Wolftrap Creek in the Town of Vienna. Help monitor the health of this restored urban stream, a few miles upstream of its namesake performing arts center. Please RSVP to Dan Schwartz for directions and instructions.

Mosquito Prevention: Tip and toss that water

A teaspoon.

That’s all the water a mosquito needs to breed. After all the rain we’ve had, please walk around your homes, look on your apartment balconies and examine your neighborhood common areas to tip and toss standing water.

Here are 12 prime locations to check:

  1. Buckets, watering cans, bottle caps or any trash that can hold water
  2. Corrugated pipes for downspout drainage
  3. Bird baths and pet water bowls
  4. Potted plants with saucers
  5. Children’s toys
  6. Tarps on woodpiles and garden equipment
  7. Grill and patio furniture
  8. Read more

Watch August VMN Continuing Ed webinar: Forest Health in Virginia, 16 August

Access for streaming the 2018 Virginia Master Naturalist videos is now available. Michelle Prysby will restore access to earlier videos, starting with 2017, later this month.

To watch any of the 2018 videos now and the earlier videos later in August, see VMN’s Continuing Education web page.

The August webinar will be on Forest Health in Virginia, with Virginia Department of Forestry’s Forest Health Manager, Lori Chamberlin.  It will take place Thursday, 16 August, at noon. 

For master naturalists, watching the VMN webinars counts toward continuing ed credits.