Earth Sangha January seed cleaning sessions

Founded in 1997, the Earth Sangha is a nonprofit public charity based in the Washington, D.C., region. In the D.C. area, they operate a volunteer-based program to propagate local native plants, restore native plant communities, and control invasive alien plants. Their Wild Plant Nursery is the region’s most comprehensive effort to propagate native plants directly from local forests and meadows. Volunteers are needed to clean the seeds from native plants to prepare them for sowing and growing.

Sundays, January 6th, 13th, 20th, from 10 am to 1 pm, at Arlington Village: 1400 South Edgewood Street, Arlington. This is the community room of Arlington Village and is located on the lowest point of the street. Please look for the brown street sign that says “1400 South Edgewood Street.” The community Room is through basement door at the corner of the building. If you can’t find it, please call Rodney at 703-216-4855 for directions.
Mondays, January 7th, 14th, 28th, from 10 am to 1 pm, at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington: 625 South Carlin Spring Road, Arlington.

Free milkweed available to schools

Deadline: Rolling
Monarch Watch is offering an opportunity for schools to receive free milkweed. Schools can receive a free flat of 32 milkweed plugs. Applications to receive milkweed for spring 2019 are being reviewed on a rolling basis. Learn more and apply here.

Chesapeake Bay Trust Environmental Education Mini Grants

Deadline: Thursday, January 10, 2019
The Chesapeake Bay Trust mini grants are intended to support meaningful outdoor learning experiences around a watershed issue investigation. The deadline to apply is January 10, 2019 at 4pm. Learn more about the grant and apply here.

Potomac River clean-ups, Jan. 19 and 21

Potomac River Cleanup at Fletcher’s Cove
When: Saturday, January 19, 10:00am-1:00pm
Where: Fletcher’s Cover, Washington DC
Potomac Conservancy and the National Park Service will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by spending “a day on, not a day off”! Join them in collecting trash at Fletcher’s Cove to support clean water and connected communities! Register online to volunteer.

Potomac River Cleanup at LBJ Grove
When: Monday, January 21, 10:00am-1:00pm
Where: LBJ Memorial Grove, Washington DC
Potomac Conservancy and the National Park Service will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by spending “a day on, not a day off”! Join them in collecting trash and removing invasives at the LBJ Memorial Grove to support clean water and connected communities! Register online to volunteer.

Five stream monitoring volunteer opportunites

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

Bull Run Watershed Stream Monitoring Workshop
When: Sunday, January 6, 12:00-2:30pm
Where: James Long Park, Haymarket
Join Elaine Wilson, one of Prince William SWCD’s pioneers/certified monitors and her team for winter monitoring at this beautiful site in Catharpin Creek in the Gainesville area. This site has some outstanding critters that are unique only to this site.  STEM kids are welcome. Spots are limited. For more information and RSVP, contact Elaine Wilson.  

Pohick Creek Stream Monitoring Workshop
When: Sunday, January 13, 10:00am-12:30pm
Where: Wadebrook Terrace, Springfield
Join NVSWCD as we discover aquatic life in Pohick Creek! This official NVSWCD stream monitoring workshop covers watershed health, what macroinvertebrates tell us about stream quality, and what you can do to prevent pollution in your local stream. Registration is limited. RSVP to Ashley Palmer.

Reston Association Stream Monitoring Workshop
When: Saturday, January 19, 1:00pm
Where: Reston
Assist in important winter stream monitoring by getting your feet wet in one of Reston’s streams? RA welcomes new volunteers to assist with stream monitoring at several locations. Get involved with a small team to collect data and identify insects with the goal of assessing the health of Reston’s stream. Not only do you get to learn about streams, it also provides an opportunity to make new friends. Learn more and register.

Reston Association Stream Monitoring Workshop
When: Thursday, January 31, 12:30pm
Where: Walker Nature Center, Reston
Assist in important winter stream monitoring by getting your feet wet in one of Reston’s streams! RA welcomes new volunteers to assist with stream monitoring at several locations. Get involved with a small team to collect data and identify insects with the goal of assessing the health of Reston’s stream. Not only do you get to learn about streams, it also provides an opportunity to make new friends. Learn more and register.

Reston Association Stream Monitoring Workshop
When: Saturday, February 2, 1:00pm
Where: Reston
Assist in important winter stream monitoring by getting your feet wet in one of Reston’s streams! RA welcomes new volunteers to assist with stream monitoring at several locations. Get involved with a small team to collect data and identify insects with the goal of assessing the health of Reston’s stream. Not only do you get to learn about streams, it also provides an opportunity to make new friends. Learn more and register.

EQAC 2019 Public Hearing – January 9, 2019

Photo by Barbara J. Saffir (c)

The Environmental Quality Advisory Council will be holding its annual public hearing on the environment on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

The public hearing will be held at 7:30 PM in Conference Rooms 4 and 5 of the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA.  All interested parties are encouraged to sign up to speak. To sign up to speak, call the Department of Planning and Zoning at 703-324-1380 or send an e-mail message (and/or submit written testimony) to EQAC@fairfaxcounty.gov. Or,  just contact Joe Gorney directly at Joseph.Gorney@fairfaxcounty.gov and he will sign you up.

Please note that EQAC is again providing the opportunity for interested parties to present video testimony.  Video testimony (five minutes or less is preferred) can be uploaded to YouTube, Ustream or Vimeo.  Let EQAC know by email to EQAC@fairfaxcounty.gov how to access the video. They will present the video at the public hearing.* The deadline for posting videos on-line and informing EQAC of the URL through which they can access the video is 5:00 PM on Wednesday, January 2. EQAC requests that there be no more than one video submitted per person.

EQAC’s Annual Report on the Environment, which will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on November 20, is now available on EQAC’s website.  Please note that, while the public hearing is being held shortly after the completion of the Annual Report, the public hearing is not intended to focus on this report but is instead intended to hear your views and concerns regarding any environmental issues of interest to you.

Questions?  Either call Joe Gorney directly (703-324-1267) or e-mail him.

*All videos will be screened by county staff prior to the public hearing. Each video must address one or more environmental topics. Any video with profanity or other objectionable material will not be presented at the public hearing. You will be notified if county staff determines that your video is unsuitable for presentation. You do not need to attend the public hearing for your video to be presented.

Look what you’ve done!

by Michael Reinemer

As I sign off as president, passing the baton to Joe Gorney, I want to thank each Virginia Master Naturalist in the chapter for what you do. The numbers of volunteer hours are astounding.

It’s hard to overstate how desperately your hours and your expertise are needed. Fairfax County and the whole region suffer from habitat loss, climate change, pollution, fragmentation, overuse – among many other assaults.

Meanwhile, we humans are increasingly disconnected from nature, suffering from the “landscape amnesia” Pete Mecca describes to FMN classes. Or shifting baseline syndrome: It’s impossible to notice the many gradual declines in the natural world – unless you understand the natural world, and you care about it and you actively monitor it. Which is one of the things you do as master naturalists. The statewide mason bee monitoring project is a great example.

You may have read “The Insect Apocalypse Is Here,” the cover story by Brooke Jarvis in the New York Times Magazine, Nov. 27, 2018.  The now global, scientific alarm about loss of insect diversity and abundance was triggered in part by small bug club in Germany. That club of 63 amateur naturalists, which included a few with science backgrounds, documented an astounding 80 percent drop in insect numbers in their research plot over a 30-year period. They had been consistently monitoring and recording changes in insect numbers or biomass in addition to species.

What’s the big deal? As E.O. Wilson put it, “If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”  While the “10,000 years” part is probably optimistic, the role of decomposers, pollinators, and other insects is indisputable.

In her NYT piece, Jarvis talks about the long amateur naturalist tradition in Europe and how that has figured into faster, more aggressive response to the insect apocalypse there, compared to the U.S. 

So as part of the growing master naturalist movement in the U.S., you are a vital resource in this era of shrinking budgets for conservation and a time of overt hostility toward science in some quarters of the federal government. Your work as monitors, mentors, and stewards is invaluable.

While all the 2018 numbers aren’t in yet, look what you’ve done:

680 hours staffing information desks at nature centers

445 hours working on nature programs for the county

435 hours removing invasive plants

375 hours as Audubon at Home ambassadors, assessing wildlife habitat

360 hours for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology feederwatch program

350 hours managing habitat and land for Fairfax County Park Authority

343 hours for school programs for Fairfax County Park Authority

330 hours for citizen science programs for the park authority

267 hours monitoring trails for Virginia Bluebird Society

260 hours working with the Plant NoVA Natives campaign

That’s just a small snapshot of your amazing numbers and work. Congratulations, and thank you. 

And a hearty thanks to the many volunteer leaders who serve as officers, committee chairs, and committee members who manage the training and all the mechanics that make the Fairfax Master Naturalists the force for nature that it is.

Great winter gardening lectures at Green Spring

Photo: (c) Barbara J. Saffir

WINTER LECTURE-IDEAS FROM EUROPE FOR U.S. GARDENS

(Adult) Winter is the perfect time to plan improvements to our gardens. Garden designer and international traveler Carolyn Mullet shares design images from her European garden travels that we can adapt and use for our own garden designs. Carolyn will show us how we can modify these “foreign” inspirations, both fun and functional, and how to find inspiration of our own.

Register

WINTER LECTURE-PUSHING LIMITS OF TROPICAL PLANTS

(Adult) Botanist and plant breeder John Boggan grows and writes about hardy palms, bananas, begonias, gesneriads, and just about anything else that’s tropical or exotic to the DC area. John shares his experience and trials of growing these beautiful tropicals and how you can have success pushing the growing zones.

Register

WINTER LECTURE-ROSE CARE 101

(Adults) Learn the fundamentals for selecting and growing fabulous roses. Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden horticulturalist Laurie McMinn will introduce you to old family heirloom roses as well as many new roses that may become your favorites! Laurie shares the essentials of rose care and beyond, including pruning for spring plant health, nurturing great blooms, and identifying pests and diseases. Your roses will thank you.

Register

WINTER LECTURE-SELECTING AND PLANTING TREES

(Adult) Trees are the keystone plants of a garden. With careful selection and proper planting, they can thrive with minimal care, rewarding us with beauty, shade, energy savings, and wildlife habitat. National Arboretum Head of Horticulture Scott Aker turns us into smarter consumers and gardeners as he illustrates how trees are marketed to homeowners. He offers, tips on proper planting techniques, and demonstrates a quick and easy way to determine a tree’s health. Learn about trees that are well-adapted to our area and that Scott recommends to homeowners.

Register

WINTER LECTURE-THE GARDENS OF PIET OUDOLF

(Adult) Join the Friends of Green Spring in viewing the documentary, Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf. This documentary immerses viewers in Oudolf’s work and takes us inside his creative process, from his beautifully abstract sketches, to theories on beauty, to the ecological implications of his ideas. Discussion to follow.

Register

WINTER LECTURE-UNCOMMON CUT FLOWER

(Adults) Make the most of your gardening efforts by growing plants that are beautiful outside and inside as cut flowers and fillers. Horticulturalist Karen Rexrode shares some favorite plants that are both beautiful ornamental garden plants and unusual cut flowers. These lovely arrangements exercise your creativity, give you confidence in plant combinations and allow you to appreciate individual plants details.

Register

WINTER LECTURE-VEGETABLES LOVE FLOWERS

(Adults) Learn how to grow an organic garden where good bugs eat bad bugs, pollinators are abundant and the beautiful bouquet on the table came from your garden! Flower Farmer Lisa Ziegler tells all as she shares why flowers are the missing piece in many vegetable gardens as they attract pollinators, beneficial insects and other good creatures to complete the circle of life. Learn how to garden without using any pesticides that can harm and kill the very beneficial creatures we want to live in the garden.

Register

WINTER LECTURE-WHAT’S BUGGING YOU?

(Adults) What was that insect I saw in the garden last summer? Why didn’t I see many butterflies last summer? How can I have more fireflies in my backyard? Bring your bug questions and stories to this mid-winter information exchange about insects. Join entomologist Nate Erwin for a colorful slide show of insects and their associated plants and then join a lively discussion about those spineless creatures that do so much for and in our gardens.

Register

Virginia Working Landscapes 2018 Biodiversity Survey Results

The central mission of Virginia Working Landscapes (VWL) is to promote sustainable land use and the conservation of native biodiversity through research, education, and community engagement. First assembled at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute: Front Royal, VA in 2010, VWL was formed at the behest of regional landowners, citizen scientists, and conservation organizations who wanted to better understand how to conserve Northern Virginia’s native wildlife on working (i.e., agricultural/forestry) lands. 

According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature, grasslands are “the most endangered, the most altered, and the least protected biome on the planet.” Today, many plants and animals that depend on grasslands have declined, due primarily to the loss or fragmentation of their native habitat and one-third of North American species considered endangered are found on grasslands. Recognizing the need to consider grassland species when studying native flora and fauna on working landscapes, VWL’s initial research focused on grasslands. Since 2010, they have expanded our focus to other working lands (forests) and to consider the impact that changes in the overall landscape mosaic have on native biodiversity. 

VWL partners with scientists, graduate students, interns, and volunteer citizen scientists to organize and conduct annual biodiversity surveys on public and private lands throughout the region. This work is important because humans receive many tangible and intangible benefits from the natural world — from the spiritual (a walk through nature) to the utilitarian (the value of food production). 

Research prioritizes studies of biodiversity, threatened species, and ecosystem services to answer such questions as: 

  • How will current land-use practices (and projected changes thereto) impact grassland biodiversity? 
  • How are ecosystem services, like pollination, related to species presence or native biodiversity? 
  • Are quail Habitat Management Areas effective at restoring bobwhite populations? How might they be improved? 
  • Does arthropod community composition or nutritional value differ in cool- vs warm-season grass fields? What are the implications of this difference for birds or other insect-eating animals? 
  • What impact does field management timing have on overwintering bird or insect diversity? 
  • How does the establishment or maintenance of native grasses impact plant communities?

To this end, VWL conducts six surveys on breeding birds, bumble bees, grasslands, orchids, mammals, soil, and arthropods.

Each year, VWL and SCBI train a group of citizen scientists to conduct these surveys on private and public lands and recruit private landowners who enable us to collect these data on their property. FMN supports this work and you can claim service hours for your participation (C200: Citizen Science Projects for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute).

For more information, please contact Outreach Coordinator, Charlotte Lorick, at 540-635-0038, visit www.vaworkinglandscapes.org), or find VWL on Facebook & Instagram. 

This specific report is on the survey results for The Clifton Institute. Reports for other sites are available from VWL.