A regional request for volunteer help with a study on the Bradford pear 

Question 1: What is the most recent invasive tree added to Director of Conservation & Recreation’s invasive plant list?
Answer: Callery Pear, aka, Bradford Pear: Pyrus calleryana Decne

Question 2: What can we do about it?
Answer: Support a regional research project by collecting leaf samples.

Callery pear is one of the most rapidly-spreading invasive plants in the eastern U.S. This plant stems from cultivars of ornamental pears, most commonly the Bradford pear. Callery pear can have long thorns and grows singly or in thick patches in old fields, roadsides, or forested areas.

The Callery pear population genetics study, under the direction of Dr. David Coyle (Clemson) and D. Hadziabdich-Guerry (University of Tennessee), is determined to better understand the genetics of this cultivar to inform future management tactics. To this end, foliar samples are needed from Virginia. The protocol is simple and the only cost is time.

Detailed information and how to send the samples is in the attached pdf, which can also be found on the study’s website.

Summary of the basics

  • Find one or more patches of “wild” callery pears of at least 10 individuals (different sample/patches locations should be at least 15 miles apart).
  • From each individual tree (10 trees total/site), collect 10 leaves. (Ten trees in a patch are required.)
  • Put all 10 leaves from each tree into its own envelope with the GPS location noted and if the tree is thorny or not.
  • Put newspaper in between the leaves – this helps them dry out and ensures they don’t mold on the way to UT.
  • Therefore, each sampling site would have 10 envelopes (1 per tree) to send in together.
  • Envelopes can be FedEx’ed to UT (for free!) Details given in information sheet attached.

Questions?  Contact Dr. David Coyle: dcoyle@clemson.edu

Children’s Science Center program needs macroinvertebrate IDers, June 30th & July 14th

Loudoun Water, 44865 Loudoun Water Way, Ashburn, VA 20147
Saturday, 30 June 2019 and Saturday, 14 July 2019
10 am – 1 pm both days

Each summer the Children’s Science Center selects a citizen science project to highlight and this year it is Creek Critters app and stream monitoring. Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) will provide some Creek Critter support and Loudoun Wildlife will help with stream monitoring.  A few stream monitoring volunteers are needed to help with the event. Please note that there is nothing at the treatment facility that meets any stream monitoring protocol.

The agenda for the two events is to set up three stations for guests to rotate though:

1. Stream walk lead by Loudoun Water.
2. Creek Critter App and Stream Monitoring demo lead by ANS (need 1-2 people to help with the demo and who know a bit about Creek Critters).
3. Macroinvertebrate identification session lead by Loudoun Wildlife (Need 1-2 people to help with macro ID).  They will be pre-catching marcos for their demonstration.

Folks that love working with kids and their families and can help with macro ID at the two stations. For more information, contact Kara Pascale.

Earth Sangha workdays all summer

Join Earth Sangha on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays for regular nursery workdays. Volunteers can help with weeding, preparing pots, sowing seeds, and transplanting. Please wear shoes that can get muddy and bring your own water.

Contact Matt Bright if you have questions about the schedule: For safety reasons, we may have to cancel volunteer workdays and nursery hours on short notice because of inclement weather. If you have any questions about scheduling at the nursery call or text Matt Bright at 703 859 2951.

Where: The Nursery is in Springfield, Virginia, in Franconia Park, which lies just south of the Beltway, and just east of the Beltway’s intersection with Routes 95 and 395. The address to our entrance is 6100 Cloud Drive. Access is from Franconia Road (644). From Franconia, turn north on Thomas Drive, less than half a mile east of the 395/95 intersection. There is a traffic light at Thomas. From Thomas, turn right onto Meriwether Lane. Turn left onto Cloud Drive. Please park in the parking lot at the bottom of the entrance road, then walk down the dirt road along the community gardens. Our nursery lies beyond the community gardens.

Contact: Matt Bright (mbright@earthsangha.org or 703-859-2951)

Explore a working landscape at Manassas National Battlefield Park

You’re invited!

A coalition led by Master Naturalists from both the Merrimac Farm and Fairfax chapters, called Heritage Habitat, is crafting nature tours for the public at Manassas National Battlefield Park and Conway Robinson State Forest.  The theme is “Heritage Habitat – A Working Educational Landscape”.  The National Park Service, Virginia Department of Forestry, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension have been strongly active and supportive of expanding interpretation at those two sites.

After months of preparation, we launch on June 1, 9:00-11:00am with our first walking tour at Brawner Farm in Manassas National Battlefield Park.  All Master Naturalists are invited!  Come for an educational trial run of this program.  In addition to learning about how the landscape is managed, we’ll be looking for feedback on the program.

The battlefield maintains a historical pattern of field and forest through hay field leases and use of prescribed fire.  Conway Robinson State Forest, in Gainesville, is a working demonstration forest, with active management of species composition though thinning and harvest of trees.  Both sites are rich in biodiversity as well as history, and excellent places for introducing the general public to the challenges of managing land to keep it “natural.”  

The Heritage Habitat team is also looking for more volunteers to support or even lead several tours per year, to add to posts/pictures on Facebook, and to explore the sites in more depth.  Interested?  Contact Bryan Graham at bryan.graham@djj.virginia.gov or Heritage Habitat at HeritageHabitat@yahoo.com .   Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/HeritageHabitat/ ; Twitter handle @HeritageHabitat

No registration is required, but please RSVP to one of the email addresses if you’re planning on attending.The location is the Brawner Farm interpretive center in the Manassas National Battlefield Park.  From Lee Highway (US-29 ) driving from Centreville, turn right (north) at the traffic light onto Pageland Lane.  After about 2000 feet, the entrance is on the right.

Volunteer Reston honors Doug Britt for community service

Doug Britt was honored as one of two 2019 Volunteers of the Year, for his efforts to guide Reston into becoming a member of the Biophilic Cities Network. In 2018, Reston officially became the 13th partner community, joining such biophilic cities as Singapore;  Sydney, Australia; Wellington, New Zealand; Oslo, Norway; Edmonton, Canada;  Portland, San Francisco, Austin,  and Washington, DC. The successful application to join this prestigious Network came about as a result of a recommendation made by the Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER) Working Group, led by Mr. Britt. The RASER Working Group was established by Reston Association’s Environmental Advisory Committee in 2017. It was charged with the task of assessing and documenting the environmental conditions of the community to establish a baseline against which future changes could be measured. Doug served alongside five other Fairfax Chapter VMN program graduates: Don Coram (who won the 2019 Volunteer Reston 55+ Volunteer Award), Robin Duska, Linda Fuller, Lois Phemister, and Claudia Thompson-Deahl, all of whom helped prepare the RASER.

The first RASER was published in July 2017. It evaluated 16 separate environmental attributes of the Reston community, concluding with a postscript arguing that Reston is a biophilic community by design and intent of its founding principles. Reston’s particular way of connecting its natural areas to its residents (through its many walking paths, trails, Nature Center, recreation areas, and education/outreach programs) maximizes such connectivity and promotes more frequent, longer duration, and more immersive interactions, while the preservation of Reston’s green spaces also creates healthy viewscapes from much of the built environment.

The current RASER was completed by the Working Group in November 2018. The report updates and expands upon the first RASER. The 2018 report evaluates the status of the following environmental attributes: Air Quality, Streams, Lakes & Ponds, Stormwater Management, Drinking Water, Wastewater Treatment, Urban Forests, Meadows, Wetlands, Landscaping & Urban Agriculture, Birds, Mammals, Reptiles & Amphibians, Invertebrates, Wildlife Management, Hazardous Materials & Toxic Wastes, Light Pollution, Noise Pollution, and Education & Outreach. 

All together, the Working Group analyzed and reviewed more than 325 data sources and scientific reports during the summer and fall of 2018 by the Working Group. Each environmental attribute was then given a qualitative status using a traffic light icon to distinguish between “good”, “fair”, “poor”, or “undetermined”. The last designation indicates that not enough data exist to make a reasonable assessment at this time. The full report includes 135 graphs, tables, maps and photos, along with a complete list of references for readers interested in more detailed information. The current report also expands on each environmental attribute analyzed by including information about how each attribute relates to Fairfax County’s current Environmental Vision document (something that was not included in the earlier 2017 RASER). 

Another addition to the current RASER is a “Recommendations & Report Card” chapter. It describes 11 new recommendations for improving or protecting Reston’s environmental quality, and evaluates progress made towards implementing the 61 previous recommendations listed in the 2017 RASER. Nearly 2000 hours of uncompensated volunteer time went into the production of the RASER and implementation of many of its recommendations. 

The complete 2018 RASER (and its Executive Summary) can be viewed at the Reston Association’s NATURE OVERVIEW.

This work falls under Service Project C-245. Mr. Britt welcomes the service of Fairfax Master Naturalists who are interested in contributing.

Full account of the awards and the activities that led to them

Volunteer needed to staff Hidden Oaks table at family festival, June 15

Hidden Oaks seeks a volunteer to staff the Hidden Oaks table at a family festival featuring local environmental and nature groups and displays. 

When? June 15, 11:30am – 2:15 pm

Where? First Christian Church of Alexandria, 2723 King Street Alexandria

What? Parents and children stop by the Hidden Oaks table to see insects, toad, and tadpoles. Hidden Oaks provides all materials. The church offers a child development center for disadvantaged preschoolers and their families who would be participating in this event.  

To volunteer:  Contact Fiona Davies at fiona.davies@fairfaxcounty.gov

Hunting Creek clean-up with canoe & kayak, June 8th

Hunting Creek, Hunting Creek, Virginia, USA
Saturday, 8 June 2019
11 am

Join the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust on June 8 for a canoe/kayak cleanup at Hunting Creek in Alexandria, VA! The goal is to remove debris and trash from Hunting Creek – a tidal wetland which flows directly into the Potomac River and on to the Chesapeake Bay. Help them support a healthy and thriving environment for all the plants and wildlife who rely on this habitat. If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP to Emily Bowman at ebowman@nvct.org or 703-559-3620. Click here to learn more.

A free cookout will take place after the cleanup for all attendees.

Dragonfly training workshop at Riverbend, May 18

Riverbend Park
8700 Potomac Hills St.
Great Falls , VA 22066
Saturday, May 18
2-4 PM

Instructors: Jerry Peters & Rita Peralta

Participate in a long-term citizen science project that is monitoring dragonfly species in and around the Potomac River above Great Falls. Learn the protocols for collecting exuviae (shed skins) that dragonfly larvae leave behind when they emerge from the river and metamorphose into flying adults. Understand dragonfly life cycles and make the Virginia shoreline of the Potomac river one of your sites for nature appreciation through the seasons.

Learn more

 

 

Help with restoration planting at Clifton Institute, May 15-17

The lower dam at the Clifton Institute was scraped of most of its vegetation last year during a construction project. Before construction, the dam was covered in a diverse community of wildflowers and native grasses and it was a magnet for wildlife. They have received a Plant Grant from the Earth Sangha nursery that will provide $600 worth of free wetland plants so that they can restore the dam. They need help from the amazing community of generous volunteers to install the plants.

Clifton Institute will be planting at the following times:

Wednesday 15 May
9 AM-12:30 PM

Thursday 16 May
3-5:30 PM

Friday 17 May
2-5 PM

Unfortunately, they can’t schedule any weekend volunteer days during this busy time of year. But this project is simpler than last year’s riparian buffer planting and the should be able to get it done in three sessions.

Please let Bert Harris know via email if you’d like to help: bharris@cliftoninstitute.org.

Please bring gloves, a shovel or a trowel, sun protection, rubber boots, and water. And so that you can plan accordingly, it will probably be easiest to plant the seedlings while standing in the pond.

NVSWD’s Sustainable Garden Tour, June 9

One of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District’s most exciting gardening events of the summer is coming up in just one month, on Sunday, June 9! The Sustainable Garden Tour allows folks from all around Fairfax County to show off their innovative and sustainable gardens to interested visitors.

This year’s Sustainable Garden Tour features nine sites throughout the Vienna/Oakton area. Each  of these gardens boasts an array of native plantings, provides habitat to key pollinators, works to mitigate drainage or erosion issues, and helps these homeowners and community members reduce their environmental footprint.

Please join the community on June 9, from 1-5 pm, as we tour these nine gorgeous gardens. Here is a general interest flier, a set of directions to, and a brief description of each site.

BTW The NVSWD team could use some help staffing the tour. Reach out to Benjamin Rhoades (benjamin.rhoades@fairfaxcounty.gov) or Ashley Palmer (Ashley.palmer@fairfaxcounty.gov) if you can volunteer or have any questions.

Please share this information around your organization, office, or on your website.