Winter Wildlife Festival, January 2022

The annual Winter Wildlife Festival in Virginia Beach is going to have both virtual and in-person events in January 2022. This event is put on by the City of Virginia Beach and several other partners, including the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Check out the full schedule and additional information online. Registrations are open now!

View virtual workshops and events, including the Festival Keynote: “The Bird Way” with Jennifer Ackerman.

View in person Trips and Excursions.

 

 

 

Elly Doyle Volunteer Awards 2021

Each year the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) celebrates outstanding efforts of volunteerism at the Elly Doyle Awards Ceremony. As the announcement states, “there are thousands of individuals and many organizations that volunteer each year in local parks and support the many programs and initiatives of the Fairfax County Park Authority. In fact, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to operate our park system without you, our valued volunteers”.

This year FPCA will be hosting a virtual ceremony. The 2021 award recipients will be honored on November 19, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Please RSVP to receive the direct link to the ceremony. 

Two of the 2021 recipients are FMN Bob Dinse and the at large group Friends of Accotink Creek. Membership in the Friends group is many, including in part FMNs Ashley Zywusko, Kathryn Pasternak, Kim Schauer, Ana Ka’ahanui, Elaine Sevy, Janet Quinn, Beverley Rivera, Wendy Cohen, Sarah Glassco, and Dianne Bowen. The contrasting qualities of these awards should not be lost. One recognizes the efforts of an individual, the other the combined efforts of a group. Both, however, recognize how each made lasting positive impacts to their community and to the environment. At the end of the day, getting out there and getting involved, no matter how you are able to do it, is the difference maker.

Bob Dinse will be awarded the Sally Ormsby Environmental Stewardship Award for his continued contributions at Hidden Oaks Nature Center (HONC). According to the HONC nomination, Bob exemplifies an environmental steward by his actions and advocacy with his 12 years of at Hidden Oaks. Bob demonstrates the responsible use and protection of natural resources through his conservation efforts. In addition to routine upkeep of existing trails, Bob alleviated erosion and stream bank deterioration, created and enhanced gardens, donated hundreds of dollars of native ferns, native plants, nuts, and birdseed and, in doing so, effectively serves as a FCPA ambassador. 

Bob Dinse at HONC – photo Jerry Nissley

Bob is a consummate environmental steward – he leads by example. As he wears the park logo on his hat and shirt, he quietly, effectively, and earnestly shares the message that each person can make a positive difference in his community. The specifics of Bob’s contributions are numerous. When I asked Bob for one project that might stick out for him he replied, “I would like to thank Suzanne Holland and Michael McDonnell [both are HONC management] for letting me work at HONC for the past 12 years. There have been past workers and staff as well current ones I have enjoyed working with. I hope I have a few more years being at HONC.” To me that exemplifies the humility of a man with a servant’s heart.

The Friends of Accotink Creek will be awarded the Elly Doyle Park Service Award. Anyone that reads the FMN newsletter or monitors FMN social media is aware of the tireless efforts and continued positive impact this group makes to Accotink Creek watershed system and surrounding environs.

FACC Members after planning walk – Photo courtesy of FACC

With regards to the criteria for this 2021 Service Award, the group has removed invasive plants, planted dozens of native trees, organized community activities with scout, school and faith groups, provided advocacy for environmental issues, and organized several stream clean ups to list but a few projects.

For example, at this year’s Spring Clean Up, more than 280 Friends of Accotink Creek (FACC) volunteers picked up 255 bags of trash, tires, and assorted flotsam at 12 different locations between Chain Bridge and Telegraph Road. Remember that Accotink Creek watershed is a major tributary to the Potomac River via Accotink Bay/Gunston Bay on the north side of Mason Neck Peninsula. As the creek flows, that’s 30+ miles of cleaner water thanks to the efforts of FACC.

Stream Monitoring – Photo Courtesy of FACC

FACC members also maintain three different Invasive Management Sites where native tree seedlings are protected from deer browse to give them an increased chance of successful growth. The sites also monitor the health of the creek system and report pollutants, such as oil spills, to the appropriate authorities. 

They advocate for sensitive areas such as the Accotink Gorge, which has rare native plants but is also heavily overrun with invasive Wisteria. Education within the community promotes awareness of issues that can affect the health and recreational aspects of the community. To that end, the group participated in the Mount Vernon Environmental Expo, handing out native sedges for planting, along with posters, booklets, and invasive species playing cards for educational purposes; and for the first time FACC contributed a table at the Latino Conservation Day. 

Accotink Stream Gorge – Photo Courtesy of FACC

For more than ten years volunteers have had workdays every week, occasionally more if a school or scout group has a particular request. The nomination for this award included a quote by Doug Tallamy, “Plant an oak, plant the future”. There is still hard word to be done but it is clear that FACC is both literally and figuratively working diligently to ‘plant the future’, which exemplifies the basic tenant of the VMN program itself, “to provide a statewide corps of volunteers dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources in their communities”.

Well done to all – and congratulations on the well earned awards.

Click to find out more about helping Accotink Gorge  https://www.accotink.org/2015/AccotinkGorge2015.htm

Click to find out more about Cinder Bed Road Bikeway – 

https://www.accotink.org/2021/CinderBedRoadBikeway2021.htm

Click to access HONC website:

https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/hidden-oaks

3rd Annual Mount Vernon District Environmental Expo, June 26th

Photo courtesy of Environment Expo

Fort Hunt Park
8999 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria VA
Saturday, June 26, 2021
8am – Noon
Reserve your FREE ticket today!

This FREE Family Friendly Event will include: Exhibitors, Workshops, Live Music, Live Reptile and Owl Programs, Electric Vehicles, Nature Walks, Junior Ranger Program, Touch-a-Truck Recycling, History Tours, Purple Glass Monster (bring your glass recycling for drop off!), Food Trucks and more!

This year’s event will be held in partnership with the National Park Service. The event will educate and inform local residents on environmental challenges that they face on a daily basis, including ones that are unique to the Mount Vernon area. Attendees will leave the Expo with simple actions they can take to make an impact on climate change and our environment.

This event will adhere to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols in place on June 26. In order to meet any outdoor event size limits, pre-registration is recommended. If COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, walk-ups without registration will be permitted. Please visit the Expo registration site to reserve your FREE ticket today!

City Nature Challenge: the results are in!

Article by FMN Ana Leilani Ka’ahanui & Stella Tarnay, both of Capital Nature

Nature nerds celebrate! The results are in for the global City Nature Challenge and our region rose to the occasion again. Out of 419 cities in 44 countries, the DC Metro Area ranked:

• 2nd for observers: 2,002
• 2nd for observations: 43,295
• 8th for species: 2,977

How did Fairfax County do? 11,916 iNaturalist observations of 1,610 species were made by 488 observers. There were 588 people that lent their expertise to make identifications. These results were an improvement over 2020 where 7,750 observations were made of 1,249 species by 391 observers. There were 10 more identifiers last year at 598. See the top ten species identified in Fairfax this year.

Capital Nature along with dozens of area partner organizations hosted over 30 virtual and in-person trainings and events, culminating in a virtual ID Party and a Celebration. Participants shared their favorite discoveries including unexpected flower sightings, five distinct sightings of hog-nosed snakes, a persnickety groundhog and alien-like eggs of a Spiny Assassin Bug. We’re pleased to say that the native mayapple topped the list as the no. 1 species observation, leaving the invasive garlic mustard far behind. For details on all the species that were discovered, visit the project on iNaturalist.

Global Big Day, May 8, 2021

Black-crowned Night-heron; photo (c) John C. Mittermeier

Be a part of birding’s biggest team! Global Big Day is an annual celebration of the birds around you. No matter where you are, join us virtually on 8 May and share the birds you find with eBird.

Participating is easy—you can even be part of Global Big Day from home. If you can spare 5 or 10 minutes, report your bird observations to eBird online or with our free eBird Mobile app. If you have more time, submit checklists of birds throughout the day. You never know what you might spot. Your observations help us better understand global bird populations through products like these animated abundance maps brought to you by eBird Science.

Last year, Global Big Day brought more birders together virtually than ever before. More than 50,000 people from 175 countries submitted a staggering 120,000 checklists with eBird, setting a new world record for a single day of birding. Will you help us surpass last year’s records? However you choose to participate, please continue to put safety first and follow your local guidelines.

Learn more.

Native Plant Sales, Spring 2021

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Native plants help baby songbirds, butterflies, our ecosystem and support clean water. They need no fertilizer, no extra watering once they are established, no pesticides and no lawn mowing.

Virginia Native Plant Society maintains a list here.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is having theirs April 10th.

VASWCD Photo Contest, deadline July 30th

Photo by Landon Martin on Unsplash

The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District is committed to conservation of natural resources through stewardship and education programs and they want to see it through your eyes. The theme this year is “Conservation through the Local Lens.” Capture those vibrant moments and express what conservation looks like through your lens! The contest is open from February 1 – July 30, 2021. To learn more about the contest, please click here to download Rules & Judging. You can submit up to 10 photos. Click here to submit your photos.

All photographs must be taken within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Photographs taken outside the state of Virginia will be disqualified.

View the 2020 winners here.

On February 23 and February 25, Fairfax County Wants to Hear from You on Energy and Transportation

Did you know, 68 percent of Fairfax County residents believe that individual citizens should do more to address climate change? Climate change is a global problem, but it also stands to impact us locally and we have a responsibility to address it head on. In response, Fairfax County has created a Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan, or CECAP. 

The facts can be hard to swallow: climate change is expected to alter the geographic reach, seasonal distribution, and abundance of disease vectors, like mosquitoes and ticks. Infectious diseases that were once considered tropical or subtropical may become commonplace in our region. On top of that, the economic sector most at risk due to climate change is agriculture. For each degree Celsius our global thermostat increases, there will be a 5 to 15 percent decrease in overall crop production. As supply decreases, and demand remains the same or increases, the price of food could very well rise. 

The good news is no action is too small to make a difference. From changing a light bulb, to choosing to drive an electric vehicle, to weatherizing a home or business, we can all participate in climate action in multiple ways according to our means and abilities. There is no guarantee that our individual actions will directly alter our experience of climate change here in Fairfax County in the short term, but inaction is not an option if we want to see positive change here and elsewhere in our region in the long term. The CECAP is our path forward – a roadmap for our community, showing us the many ways we can start to address climate change locally. 

Please learn more about climate action in Fairfax County. Later this month, online surveys will be available, and the county will host two public meetings to gather community input on climate change mitigation strategies and actions.

February 23, 2021: Virtual public meeting on energy issues. Join via WebEx.

February 25, 2021: Virtual public meeting on transportation, development, and waste issues. Join via WebEx.

Engage with Fairfax County’s Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan

The Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination is currently working with county residents and stakeholders to develop the first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan, or CECAP. Here is some information about this initiative and why it matters.

It’s a fact: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that human-driven climate change is taking place now. Climate change occurs when greenhouse gases build up in our atmosphere and trap heat that might otherwise escape, causing shifts in global temperatures and weather patterns over time. In the United States, and in Fairfax County specifically, the two greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions are the burning of fossil fuels to provide electricity for buildings, and the burning of fossil fuels by vehicles on our roads.

Fairfax County is not immune to the effects of climate change, we already experience stronger storms related to climatic shifts. A single severe storm in 2019 cost Fairfax County taxpayers $14 million. That is money that could have been spent on other county services, programs, and projects. Extreme weather events pose a risk to life and property as well. Many residents stand to lose personal property and real estate as the result of flooding and other weather impacts.

While there are limits to what the Fairfax County government can do to address climate change locally, individual residents can make a major difference. More than 95 percent of local greenhouse gas emissions come from sources other than local government operations – like energy use at home, business operations, and cars and trucks on our roads. The CECAP will define actions we can each take to be a part of the solution.

You can learn more about climate action in Fairfax County. Later this month, online surveys will be available, and the county will host public meetings to gather community input on climate change mitigation strategies and actions. FMN will share more information about opportunities for you to participate in the coming weeks.

RVA Environmental Film Festival – February 12-26, 2021

Friday, February 12, 2021, 6:15 pm to Friday, February 26, 2021, 8:15 pm
All films are free but require advance registration for each one.
Includes winning films produced by filmmakers from the Old Dominion. That showtime is February 14, 2021, 4:05 to 5:20 pm. Register here.

The Richmond Environmental Film Festival (RVA EFF) showcases films that raise awareness of environmental issues relevant to the Richmond region, our nation, and our planet. There are national, international and Virginia produced films about Africa, the Mexican border wall, and the rising water challenging the military in Tidewater, Virginia, among others.