Stream Monitoring: Citizen Science & Training Opportunities – August and September

Photo by J. Quinn

Below is a list of Stream Monitoring Citizen Science, Workshops, and other monitoring opportunities in the area for August and September.


*NVSWCD Workshop*
Difficult Run Stream Monitoring Workshop

When: Sunday, August 21, 10:00am-12:30pm
Where: Difficult Run Stream Valley Park, Great Falls

This quiet site is known for numerous macros and a relatively high stream score. In spring we found a high number of midges – will we find the same this visit? Space is limited, please register for the workshop here.

*NVSWCD Workshop*
Horsepen Run Stream Monitoring Workshop

When: Saturday, August 27, 9:00-11:30am
Where: Horsepen Run Stream Valley Park, Herndon

This stream site parallels the park trail and is a favorite with local runners, bikers, and dog walkers! This site scored higher in the spring monitoring than it had in past years – join us to see if this positive trend continues! Space is limited, please register for the workshop here.

Creek Critters Count and Catch Program

When: Sunday, August 28, 1:00pm
Where: Chapman DeMary Trail, Purcellville

Join the Purcellville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Purcellville Tree and Environment Sustainability Committee and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy to get up close and personal with the creek critters living in the South Fork of the Catoctin Creek at the Chapman DeMary Trail. Loudoun Wildlife Stream Team members will discuss the natural history of these critters, help participants learn how to identify them, and explain how they can help us determine the health of a stream. Registration required through Purcellville Parks and Recreation website. Learn more here.

Friends of Accotink Creek Biological Stream Monitoring

When: Saturday, September 10, 9:30-11:30am
Where: Lake Accotink Park, Springfield

Volunteers assess ecological conditions in the stream, based on the presence and abundance of bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Meet at the parking lot behind Lake Accotink Park Administrative building. RSVP.

*NVSWCD Workshop*
Wolftrap Creek Stream Monitoring Workshop

When: Saturday, September 10, 1:00-3:30pm
Where: Wildwood Park, Vienna

This site was recently made available for adoption after it’s monitor moved away for college. Come see how sites are monitored and how you can join our volunteer team! Space is limited, please register for the workshop here.

*NVSWCD Workshop*
Cub Run Stream Monitoring Workshop

When: Sunday, September 25, 9:00-11:30am
Where: Cub Run Stream Valley Park, Centreville

This stream site had great stream health scores in the spring – come see if the trend continues! As a bonus treat, this site often has delicious pawpaws ripening this time of year… Space is limited, please register for the workshop here.

More Training and Stream Monitoring Opportunities

The Northern Virginia Water and Soil Conservation District (NVSWCD) is very excited to contribute their stream data to state and national datasets. If you’d like to see data from all the NVSWCD regional stream monitoring team’s active sites, you can find our organization on the Clean Water Hub. Keep in touch with NVSWCD on our Facebook and Instagram.


Help Celebrate 50 Years of Coastal Zone Management

Image Courtesy of the VMN Partner: Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Help Celebrate 50 Years of Coastal Zone Management
–By Virginia Witmer, Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

The diversity of our ocean and coasts is as great as its people. They provide places to live, work, and play, drive our nation’s economy, and support a wealth of biodiversity. They are an integral part of our national heritage and character.
In Virginia, our coast encompasses thousands of miles of beautiful shoreline and coastal habitats in all of the cities, counties and towns that touch on tidal waters. It includes the waters of tidal rivers, the Chesapeake Bay, Back Bay and out to the 200 nautical mile boundary in the Atlantic Ocean.

50 years ago, Congress passed banner legislation designed to protect our nation’s ocean and coasts. The 1972 National Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) shaped our past 50 years and will continue to shape the future.

The versatility of the CZMA, administered by NOAA, provides for the management of the nation’s coastal resources. It outlines the National Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program to balance competing land and water issues through state coastal management programs, such as the Virginia Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program.

The Virginia CZM Program, established in 1986, is a network of state agencies and local governments led by DEQ that administer the enforceable laws and regulations that protect our air and water quality and coastal habitats.  Read more about the coastal resiliency, restoration and conservation efforts of the Virginia CZM Program being funded through the CZMA.  Visit

This federal and state partnership approach works.

But it also needs you.  Please help raise awareness about all that our ocean and coasts do for us.  Share the 50 ways (and more!) Virginians can show their love for our ocean and coast. There are many actions, big and small, from which to choose when at home and work, out and about, volunteering, in the garden, on vacation, at play, and in school and volunteering!

More Resources
50 ways to love your Ocean and Coasts video
50 ways to love your ocean and coasts webpage
50 years of ocean and coast legislation webpage
50 years of accomplishments and successes administering ocean and coastal conservation policy webpage
Prevent Balloon Litter Campaign
Plant Virginia Natives Initiative

Be Nice to Your Trees

Article and photo by Plant NOVA Trees
On a recent day, driving out of the sun into a wooded community resulted in a temperature drop from 91 to 86 degrees. We all try to stay in the shade in hot weather, competing for the parking spaces under trees. What we may not realize is that tree-lined neighborhoods are cooler not just because of the shade but because the trees themselves act as air conditioners. The basic concept is that it takes energy to turn a liquid into a gas – we see that when boiling water. When a tree sucks up water through its roots and releases it as a gas through its leaves, a process known as transpiration, the energy that causes the water to evaporate is absorbed from the surroundings in the form of heat, and the result is a lower air temperature. This principle of physics also explains why sweating cools our bodies.
Newly planted trees are particularly vulnerable to high heat, so the most basic care needed from us is to provide enough water until they are well established. Seedlings establish quickly, but a landscaper-sized tree needs several years for its root to grow out of the planting hole into the surrounding soil. Our torrential summer storms can fool us into thinking we are getting enough rain, but many of them are brief and don’t even budge the rain gauge. A young tree with brown leaves is a very sad sight. At the same time, overwatering any plant can be worse than underwatering, by depriving the roots of oxygen, so we need to be careful to follow instructions in that regard and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Once a native tree gets established, though, little if any care may be required for the next twenty years or so. Our oaks and other native trees evolved here and are accustomed to the local soils and our variable temperatures and rainfall, although those 91 degree days are adding to the stress of living in an urban or suburban environment. Because older trees may start to develop issues, it is wise to have those that are near houses inspected every two years by an independent consulting arborist, meaning one who has no financial incentive to sell tree care services. They can recommend procedures that may prevent a tree from becoming hazardous. Even better, they may be able to provide reassurance, for instance, that a tree that is leaning a little may be quite stable, despite the dire warnings of a marketing rep from a tree company that is eager to keep its crew busy. Always use the services of arborists certified by the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture.)
When future residents are facing temperatures even higher than today’s, a five degree lower temperature may make a life or death difference. Consider what hundred degree weather does to the human body when a prolonged blackout shuts down everyone’s air conditioning. It pays to take good care of our trees. Find out how on the Plant NOVA Trees website.

From Every Bee to Every Tree – Cathy Ledec

Recognizing Cathy Ledec for her support of County environmental initiatives. Photo courtesy of BOS newsletter.

In July 2022 the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) distinguished FMN Cathy Ledec, former chair of the Fairfax County Tree Commission, with a proclamation for her years of service in progressing our County’s environmental initiatives. Notably, Cathy led the charge in developing the 2019 Tree Action Plan for Fairfax County which, through its robust inclusion of a diverse group of stakeholders, continues to serve as a model for how the county develops environmental initiatives.

Photo Rachel Habig-Meyers County Urban Forest Management Division

Cathy joined the Fairfax County Tree Commission in 2016 and an early draft of an update to the Tree Action Plan had been prepared.  Starting in 2016 she worked to improve the draft and positively influenced the final version submitted by committee, which was approved towards the end of 2019. The Tree Action Plan is a document of the Fairfax County Tree Commission. Tree action plan.

Cathy was also a key contributor to the Community-wide Climate Action Plan (CECAP) developed in large part by citizen volunteers and then approved in 2021 by Fairfax County. In a New York Times article Jim McKay (Chairman, BOS) emphasized that the county’s climate action plan is unusual in part because it was produced by several dozen community members instead of county officials. In most cases, programs like these come from the top down.
One goal of the plan, approved in September 2021, is to educate county residents about environmentally friendly choices they can make. “If the community’s not on board, you’re not going to accomplish anything other than to write a beautiful plan and have it sit on the shelf and collect dust,” said McKay.
A group of more than 50 residents heard from experts, examined data, debated and voted on recommendations. The document identified 12 broad strategies in five areas: buildings and energy efficiency, energy supply, transportation, waste, and natural resources. The strategies were broken into 37 recommended actions and scores of narrower “activities.”

Planting for the future. Photo George Ledec

Dan Storck (Mt. Vernon District Supervisor) extolled Cathy’s past performance and service to Fairfax County in an official letter by writing, “Cathy served on the Fairfax County Tree Commission since 2016, and as Chair since January 2019, until she recently stepped down. As Chair, Cathy led the creation of the 2019 Fairfax County Tree Action Plan, which was subsequently approved by the Board of Supervisors, and led to the institution of the Community of Practice in 2020. During Cathy’s tenure, she led discussions and compiled research for the Commission to comment on a variety of County Board priorities, including solar projects and trees, the Joint County/Schools Environmental Task Force (JET) recommendations, land use decisions affecting trees, actions affecting trees in the Community Energy and Climate Action Plan’s (CECAP), among others. As noted by the current Chair of the Tree Commission, Cindy Speas, “Cathy’s work made the Tree Commission more relevant in a changing environmental world through the adoption of the Tree Action Plan and the Community of Practice”.”

The letter continued by noting, “Cathy has served on the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park since 2010 and as its elected President since 2012, where her leadership has contributed significantly to the long-term preservation of natural resources at Huntley Meadows and throughout Fairfax County. She volunteers with the Resource Management Division (RMD) of the County Park Authority (FCPA) assigned to Huntley Meadows, educating the public on the importance of being good environmental stewards and contributing to data collection supporting scientific research. Cathy has led countless cleanups, invasive species removals, bird counts, nature walks and organized volunteers for many other park activities. In 2020, Cathy received the Sally Ormsby Environmental Stewardship Award for 17 years of volunteer service at Huntley Meadows Park and for the Fairfax County Park Authority.” She even donated a bench to Huntley Meadows Park.

Cathy and George Ledec Bench at Huntley Meadows- photo Jerry Nissley

Mr. Storck commended Cathy and her service by saying, “Cathy is truly a protector of our natural world, from every bee to every tree. Her knowledge of trees, natural landscaping, climate and environmental issues, living shorelines and so much more is unmatched, as is her passion and enthusiasm”.

Cathy also serves our community via her multi-functional involvement in many citizen action groups such as, Friends of Huntley Meadows Park, Inc. (FOHMP), Board Member Emeritus; Fairfax County Park Authority, Resource Management Division, Huntley Meadows Park, 2003 to present; Invasive Management Area Program: Site Leader, Mount Eagle Park, 2016 to June 30, 2022; Certified Master Naturalist, Virginia Master Naturalists (Fairfax Chapter) (2017- present); Pavilions at Huntington Metro Community Association, President (2019-present); Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, Reston, VA Member, Board of Directors, November 2019 – August, 2021; Audubon-At-Home Ambassador, Audubon Society of Northern Virginia( 2018-2020); Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Associations (2007 to 2018); and Fairfax Federation of Citizens Associations.

George and Cathy checking a bird box. Photo by Doug Mason.

However, needs change and a good life marches forward opening doors to new adventures. Cathy mentioned to me in an email interview, “My husband and I will be relocating to Barnstable, Massachusetts and will remain connected and involved to a much lesser degree with Fairfax County.  I retain my affiliation with the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park where both my husband and I are now Board Members Emeritus.  I expect to return to Fairfax County regularly for visits and hope to be able to continue some of our activities in the area.  We regularly lead bird and nature walks in our Alexandria, Virginia neighborhood and hope to continue to do this. I also intend to maintain my certification status with Fairfax Master Naturalists and can complete activities here when we are in town.”

Tilling the soil. Photo George Ledec.

She said, “I hope that my work inspires others to get involved. I have enjoyed living here in Fairfax County for almost 30 years and am sad to leave.  On the other hand we are very excited about our new adventure in Massachusetts.  We purchased a 4.25 acre waterfront property in the village of Cummaquid and will be working to restore this land to a more natural state.  This includes some reforestation and invasive plant removal along with the planting of many native species of trees, shrubs, forbs and grasses.  On the property we are lucky to have about 1 acre of salt marsh and a fresh water (Kettle pond) on the property.  Already we have a day roost of both Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons and nesting Willow  Flycatcher and nesting Yellow Warbler.  We are nearby the Mass Audubon Society’s Long Pasture Nature Preserve and there is so much to see!  Our new home is about 15 minutes away from my 92 year old parents where I am so fortunate to be able to move there to help them out.”

Given all of the above, Cathy remains a humble, altruistic individual who doesn’t mind, in fact, loves to get her hands into the dirt. She said she does not do what she does for the accolades, they seem to come with the territory. She is very appreciative though when the County gives thanks for influencing their decisions towards positive, sustainable environmental impact. So for ‘every bee and every tree” in Fairfax County, FMN joins in thanking Cathy for all she has done and hopefully will continue doing in our shared communities.