MLK Service Day at Mason Neck State Park, January 17th

Photo courtesy of Friends of Mason Neck State Park

Calling all volunteers and groups: Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day is January 17. Please call or email the park office if you would like to volunteer. They have many great volunteer opportunities such as trail maintenance, shoreline cleanups, scout projects, Visitor Center Assistant and more. They can tailor your volunteer experience specifically for you or your group.

Email: [email protected]          Phone: 703-339-2380

Five Things To Know About The Plastic Bag Tax

                                                                                                                                                Image courtesy of Fairfax County Government

A new five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags went into effect at certain retailers across Fairfax County on Jan. 1, 2022. Here are five things you need to know about this new tax. You can learn more at: 5 Things To Know About The Plastic Bag Tax | News Center (


The tax is only on disposable plastic bags from grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores. Some bigger box stores, like Walmart, are also included.


If you bring your own reusable shopping bag and use it at the register, you can avoid paying this tax.


Unlike some other taxes, this tax does not exist for the purpose of collecting revenue. The entire goal of the tax is to help encourage change behavior and to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags.


The Virginia Department of Taxation will administer and collect the tax. Any revenue collected will be provided to Fairfax County periodically and will be used to help stand up environmental programs and services to curb litter and pollution, and to provide reusable bags to those eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits.


The region is moving collectively to address plastic pollution. Both Arlington and Alexandria have implemented a five-cent tax on disposable plastic bags as of Jan. 1, 2022.

Plastic Bag Tax Frequently Asked Questions

For questions about administration or enforcement, please contact Virginia Tax at 804-367-8031.

Help Restore the Health of the Potomac and Chesapeake, Grow Underwater Grass

Photo courtesy of Friends of Mason Neck State Park

Mason Neck State Park Visitor Center
7301 High Point Rd., Lorton VA
Various dates for orientation.
Register by calling (703) 339-2380 or email [email protected]

Orientations on:
January 15, 1 PM
January 22, 11 AM
January 30 1 PM
February 5, 11 AM
February 6, 11 AM
February 12, 1 PM
February 13, 1 PM

You can help restore the health of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay by participating in Mason Neck State Park’s Grasses for the Masses program. Volunteers in the program grow wild celery, an important underwater grass, in their homes and then plant it at the park to help bolster aquatic grass populations. Underwater grasses are a vital part of the health of the
Potomac and the Chesapeake. They provide food for waterfowl, oxygenate the water, filter pollution, reduce erosion and provide safe spaces for newly-hatched fish.

To participate in the program, all you need to do is attend an orientation session at the park and pick up your supplies. There is a $25 charge for each Grasses Kit. You’ll grow your grasses at home, then plant them at the park on Planting Day, May 22. All supplies must be returned to the park on May 22.

Registration for the orientation programs is required, and there is a maximum of 10 persons for each orientation.

Restoration of the American Shad in the Potomac River, February 12th

Photo:  Courtesy of Friends of Mason Neck State Park

Friends of Mason Neck State Park’s Annual Meeting
Saturday, February 12, 2022
2 pm
Online. Free.
Register here.

The Friends of Mason Neck State Park will hold their Annual Meeting via Zoom. They’ll have a brief business meeting at which they summarize their activities for the year and elect a Board of Directors. Following the business meeting, they’ll have a presentation by Jim Cummins, a biologist and river ecologist who has played a key role in the efforts to restore the Potomac River’s shad population.

The American shad was once one of the East Coast’s most abundant and economically important fish. Unfortunately, by the 1970s water pollution, over-harvesting, and the blocking of spawning habitat by dams led to their decline. In 1983 a harvest moratorium on American shad was put into effect on the Potomac River but over a decade later, even with a much cleaner river, the shad population was still showing no signs of recovery. In 1995, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) began an 8-year American shad restoration program, with the assistance of local watermen from Mason Neck and the involvement and support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

Jim Cummins’ talk will cover the success of that effort, the current status, how the Potomac contributed to subsequent and ongoing shad restorations in many other rivers in the midAtlantic, the involvement of regional schools, and a special description of the historic importance of Mason Neck to the Potomac’s remarkable shad fishery.


Birds and Words with Bill Young, February 15th, 17th, and 22nd

Photo:  William Young

Tuesday, February 15, Thursday February 17, and Tuesday February 22, 2022,
7-8 pm
Register here.

How have bird words infiltrated the English language? What is the basis for the common and scientific names of birds?

These and many other questions will be answered in this three-part workshop. Bill Young will address these and many other questions in Birds and Words. Bill is the author of the book The Fascination of Birds: From the Albatross to the Yellowthroat. He also is the co-creator of the website, which is a comprehensive resource for people who visit Monticello Park in Alexandria, Va.

Great Backyard Bird Count Workshop and Kahoot!, February 3rd

Thursday, February 3, 2022
7 – 8:30 pm
Register here.

Save the date! The next GBBC is February 18 – 21. Bird enthusiasts of all ages count birds to create a real-time snapshot of where birds are ranging. Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Now, hundreds of thousands of people, all ages and walks of life worldwide, join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

This FREE workshop will cover the history of GBBC, its purpose, tips for identifying birds, and the protocols to be followed while counting.

After the presentation, theyll test your identification skills with a Kahoot!

ASNV Workshop for Winter Waterfowl Count, January 27th

Photo: William Pohley

Thursday, January 27, 2022
7-8:30 pm
Online, free!
Register here.

Join Greg Butcher, Audubon Society of Northern Virginia board member and migratory species coordinator for US Forest Service International Programs, for an introduction to waterfowl identification. Get to know many of the species that winter in the open waters of our region. You’ll learn how to tell a Bufflehead from a Hooded Merganser, and, with luck, you will see the beautiful Tundra Swans that winter in our area. Strategies will include identification by shape and color pattern.

They’ll review protocol to ensure that participants understand the ASNV pandemic restrictions which include wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and carpooling. After the presentation we’ll test your identification skills with a Kahoot!

This workshop will include an outdoor field trip and bird walk on Saturday, January 29—details will be given in class. After the workshop and field trip, you’ll be ready to rally for a tally during our 13th Annual Waterfowl Count, Saturday, February 5, and Sunday, February 6

Scholarship application to Hog Island Educator’s Week now open!

Photo:  Gretchen Linton

Each year Audubon Society of Northern Virginia offers a full scholarship to Sharing Nature: An Educator’s Week at Hog Island Audubon Camp in coastal Maine. Hog Island Audubon Camp has offered environmental education programs for adults, teens, families, and conservation leaders since 1936. While there, educators learn interdisciplinary hands-on methods and approaches to environmental education while immersed in the natural world.

Applicants must be public classroom teachers, specialists, or school administrators in the ASNV chapter territory: Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Rappahannock, and Stafford counties and the Independent cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Leesburg, Manassas, and Manassas Park.)

Sharing Nature: An Educator’s Week will be July 17 – 22, 2022.To apply, please complete the online application and submit two letters of recommendation no later than February 28, 2022. Please see the application for additional details, including post-camp requirements.