A Choice on MLK Day of Service, January 18th

A Dyke Marsh inlet. Photo by Ned Stone.

January 18, 2021
10am – Noon
Meet at the Belle Haven Park south parking lot registration table. This will be canceled if there are heavy storms or lightning that morning.

Friends of Dyke Marsh and National Park Service will host two activities:

(1) a shoreline trash cleanup and

(2) removing English ivy from trees.

Volunteers can choose either activity. You do not need prior plant identification experience.

To follow covid-19 protocols, we must require registration and limit participants to 15 people in each group. We will provide work gloves, tools, trash bags and hand sanitizer.

Wear a mask, sturdy shoes, long pants and sleeves, winter gloves and sun protection. Bring your own water.

Register here and indicate your choice:

The Environmental Defense Fund’s Yesh Pavlik Slenk Hosts “Degrees,” a Podcast About Sustainability

Six inspiring episodes so far:

Why employees are key for a hopeful future, with Bill Wiehl

Chemical soup: The quest to create a toxic-free marketplace, with Boma Brown-West

Global recycling, career reinvention… and the double life of Vienna Teng, with Cynthia Shih

Tackling trash with data… and turning disappointment into delight, with Chris Kirschner

Climate intrapreneurship: Think big, start small, scale fast!, with Chris Castro

Transforming energy, unlocking change… and Bubba Gump Shrimp, with Steph Speirs

But, hey, start here for a real overview so you can meet the people and the host and the mission.

Native Southern Flying Squirrels Webinar, February 17th

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
7 pm
To receive the Zoom link, register at info@fodm.org and put “Flying Squirrels” in the subject line

Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh for a presentation by naturalist, Kim Young and explore the often hidden life of the native southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans). Learn how to look for them, their adaptations for nocturnal living and the truth about their ability to “fly.”

Wine to Water Filter Build: Create A Meaningful Experience for Your Family and Community

Conservation, community service, hands-on environmental engineering, and social justice intersect in the work of Wine to Water, a North Carolina-based 501 (c) (3) nonprofit whose mission is to support life and dignity through the power of clean water.

The organization enables many ways to participate, one of which is Filter Build, a guided experience to build small, portable water filters that the organization distributes to communities in the U.S., Colombia, The Dominican Republic, Nepal, Tanzania, and elsewhere. Here is a copy of their 2018-2019 Annual Report, which presents the results of their work in both quantitative and human terms.

Do Fairfax County residents need these filters themselves? Nope.

Can Fairfax County residents and Master Naturalists host virtual events to actually build them for communities that do? You bet.

Might we, our children and grandchildren, and our neighbors learn about some of the engineering that goes into making water potable? Yup, that, too.

Learn one, do one, teach one?

Start here–with a video by founder Doc Hendley.

Winter Wildlife Festival, January 28th-31st

Join the City of Virginia Beach for a month-long celebration of coastal wildlife and nature culminating January 28-31! They’re going the distance this year and presenting virtual and in-person components to ensure a safe, yet engaging experience for all.

See all the festival highlights here.
Virtual workshops are here.

Integrating Storm Water Management in Landscape Design, February 20th

Step Pool Conveyance System photo from Green Spring Extension Master Gardeners

The 17th Annual EcoSavvy Symposium
Saturday, February 20, 2021
9:30am – 12:30 pm
Cost: $26 in-county/$28 out-of-county
Registration (703) 642-5173 or online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/parktakes

Learn innovative techniques to capture, store and collect rainwater.
Presented by VCE Green Spring Master Gardeners. Speakers are Dr. Laurie Fox, Horticulture Associate, Virginia Tech, Hampton Roads Agriculture Research & Extension Center and Christine Horner, Water Quality Engineer, Town of Vienna.
Also, a presentation on Virginia Conservation Assistance Program by Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.

FMN Annual Chapter Meeting includes Lanternfly Training, December 14th

Photo from nps.gov

Monday, December 14, 2020
7 – 8:30 pm
Request Zoom link by emailing vmnfairfax@gmail.com

Rachel Griesmer will talk about spotted lanternfly, an invasive planthopper new to Virginia. Rachel is an urban forester with Fairfax County Forest Pest Management Branch. She earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental biology and botany from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in forest ecology and management from Michigan Technological University. She holds certifications from the International Society of Arboriculture as a Certified Arborist as wells as a Qualified Tree Risk Assessor and has participated in suppression programs for invasive insects.

The meeting will also include the graduation of our Spring 2020 Basic Training class and an election for some key board positions.

NVSWCD 2021 Annual Native Seedling Sale, ordering opens February 2nd

Photo by Franceso Gallarotti on Unsplash

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual seedling sale makes low-cost bare-root native shrub and tree seedlings available to Northern Virginia residents. Seedling packages go on sale in February and are available for pickup in April. Trees and shrubs help cleanse water, prevent soil erosion, provide habitat, cool our climate and clean our air. Consider adding native trees and shrubs to your community today!

This year’s seedling sale features small shrubs and trees that are not only curated to be hardy in smaller spaces, but to also serve as valuable food sources for wildlife! They help clean our water and air, prevent soil erosion, provide valuable habitat, sequester carbon, and add beauty to your landscape.

Order starting Tuesday, February 2, 2021. See the link in the flyer below. Pick up by Friday, April 16 or Saturday, April 17, 2021.

In addition, the Virginia Department of Forestry needs help in counting all of the trees and shrubs planted through this sale, as well as other trees planted over the next four years.  Every tree makes a different in protecting and improving water quality.  Residents may add their planted trees to the My Tree Counts app:  https://arcg.is/WryDG.  On this app, residents can report their tree and shrub plantings made since October 1, 2020, read about other tree planting projects in Virginia, and learn why trees are so good at protecting water quality.

American Energy Innovation: The Federal Policy Landscape

This Zoom Webinar was held on Dec. 14, 2020, noon-1 pm

Here is a recording of the session.

Decarbonizing the US economy will require substantial investment in research, development, and deployment of technologies that have not yet entered the marketplace at large scale. There is bipartisan support for federal policy to support such clean energy innovation—particularly under the auspices of the American Energy Innovation Act, a multi-billion-dollar piece of legislation currently under consideration in the US Senate. (A companion bill, the Clean Energy and Jobs Innovation Act, was passed by the US House of Representatives in September 2020.)

Join Resources for the Future (RFF) at this important moment for innovation policy as they host a conversation, “American Energy Innovation: The Federal Policy Landscape.” Their distinguished set of panelists—including one of the lead architects of the American Energy Innovation Act—will discuss what parts of the innovation ecosystem policy can most readily support; how past innovation policies in the United States have fared, both in the energy sector and elsewhere; how the private sector takes signals from policies; and how the discussion around energy innovation policy has unfolded on Capitol Hill over the past year.


  • Colin Cunliff, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
  • Spencer Nelson, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • Richard G. Newell, Resources for the Future
  • Kristin Hayes, Resources for the Future (moderator)

Additional speakers to be announced.

About the Advanced Energy Technologies Project

RFF’s Advanced Energy Technologies Project uses new research to incorporate a number of these advanced technologies into our E4ST power sector model, which offers a detailed representation of the grid and is widely used in policy analysis related to power sector decarbonization.

The related events series covers topics such as carbon capture and sequestration, advanced nuclear energy, enhanced geothermal systems, energy storage, and direct air capture. The series will conclude with an additional event showcasing the results of RFF’s analysis of how various policy proposals will drive investment in and deployment of these technologies.


Rainbow Pools of Huntley Meadows Park

I am almost certain that most of the FMN newsletter readers have seen or heard of the phenomenon described in this article, commonly called rainbow pools. However, since I recently had my first opportunity, unplanned as it was, to photograph them at Huntley Meadows Park I thought I would share my good fortune. I was returning to the nature center following an afternoon of trail monitoring when conditions came together and gifted me with a fleeting glimpse of this colorful phenomenon. I say fleeting because several conditions need to be met to see the rainbow effect: A. decomposed organic surface slime, B. still waters, and C. just the right angle of sun light. And they were all in convergence as I unsuspectingly walked by; and alas, the effect dissolved in ten minutes as condition C degraded.

They are called rainbow pools because the surface coating on the pools resemble oily layers of red, blue, pink, yellow, purple, and colors that may not have a name. The coating is iridescent too like an oil slick but it disperses when disturbed unlike an oil slick, so disturbing the slick is a good way to test between the two.

HMP Rainbow Pool – photo Jerry Nissley

These rainbow pools are not a sign of pollution but are instead a natural occurrence in most wetlands. Given a combination of very still waters, a few days without rain or wind to disturb surface tension, and the correct angle of light, nature may provide you with a truly colorful experience. I have seen photos that show much more vibrant colors then in the ones I took. My personal observation is that the darker the water (more tannin) the higher the reflective value of the surface material. In addition, these pools sit among hardwood trees so less oil is exuded in the decomposition process of leaf litter when compared to pine or cypress forests. The pools in this section of the park tend to be temporal and, therefore, are less stained with leached tannins and oils creating a more pastel pallet.

HMP Rainbow Pool – photo Jerry Nissley

Most often the sheen forms as a result of decaying vegetation, especially from plant materials that exude natural oils, such as pine cones and needles. Another cause can be anaerobic bacteria breaking down iron in the soil. Once the cells begin to decay, they release a reddish slime material, which floats to the surface. Iron bacteria are of no threat to human health. They are found naturally in soils and water in low numbers and will thrive as more iron becomes available. Yet another example of how wetlands are ecologically important systems due to their high plant productivity and their capacity to recycle nutrients. Bacteria in wetland soils break down organic and inorganic structures.

The rainbow effect is typically seen during cooler months and as the sun approaches the lower degrees of an acute angle such as in the morning or as the sun is setting, providing the appropriate reflective angle. The pools pictured in this article are located in the back still waters off the wooded section of Cedar trail at HMP, not in areas near the creeks or other moving water. These photos were taken on 3 December around 3:30 p.m. as I finished an afternoon of trail monitoring. Other pools can be found in other sections of the park.

So you want to chase a rainbow? Try running down a rainbow pool at Huntley Meadows. But running on the boardwalk is not permitted … those trail monitors will get cha.