Anti-Wisteria Expedition, October 31st

Image: courtesy of the Friends of Accotink Creek, Chinese Wisteria

October 31, 2022
9:30AM – 11:30AM

Accotink Gorge
Meet at treeline BEHIND
Dos Amigos Restaurant
7375 Boston Blvd
Springfield, VA 22153

Click here for more information and sign-up details.

The Accotink Gorge is truly one of the most biodiverse locations, especially given its small size and proximity to development. However, if urgent action to remove Wisteria sinensis (Chinese wisteria) vines which are rapidly killing its canopy trees is not taken soon, all of this will be irrevocably lost. Many beautiful native wildflowers are currently in bloom and the area is teeming with pollinators and birds. It is not too late to save this oasis, but it will be soon.

The Friends of Accotink Creek will lead a workday to reduce the Chinese Wisteria infestation threatening the unique biodiversity found in the Accotink Gorge.

Americana Drive Cleanup, February 21st

Photo:  John Cameron on

Monday, February 21, 2022
10 am – 1 pm
All along Americana Drive, Annandale
Learn more and sign up here.

Get your brain wet! Join Friends of Accotink Creek, Fairfax County Restoration Project, and neighbors to get trash out of this site of chronic illegal dumping. Be prepared to get tired and dirty!

Virginia & Waterways Cleanup – the Friends of Accotink Creek are starting their Fall Cleanups, various dates

GET YOUR BRAIN WET! Join Friends of Accotink Creek to get trash out of our waterways while participating in the International Coastal Cleanup in Fairfax County.

Saturday, September 18, 2021 Cleanup Locations:

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM     Accotink Creek at Fullerton Road bridge , Directions

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM     Accotink Creek at Franconia-Springfield Parkway bridge , Directions
(Including cleanup of Hooes Road dumpsite)

3:00 PM – 5:00     Accotink Creek at Telegraph Road bridge , Directions

Saturday, September 25, 2021 Cleanup Locations:

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM     Accotink Creek at Fairfax Blvd bridge , Directions

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM     Accotink Creek at Chain Bridge Road , Directions

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM     Accotink Creek at Old Lee Hwy bridge , Directions

Saturday, October 2, 2021 Cleanup Locations:

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM     Accotink Creek at King Arthur Road bridge , Directions

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM     Accotink Creek at Little River Tpk bridge , Directions

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM     Accotink Creek at Braddock Road bridge , Directions

Saturday, October 9, 2021 Cleanup Locations:

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM     Accotink Creek at Pickett Road bridge , Directions

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM     Accotink Creek at Barkley Dr bridge , Directions

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM     Accotink Creek at Woodburn Road bridge , Directions

Thursday, November 11, 2021 Cleanup Location:

10:00 AM – 12:00 noon     Americana Drive Veterans Day cleanup

Other opportunities to be part of the solution in the Accotink Creek watershed:

  • Saturday, October 16, 2021 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Fort Belvoir Accotink Bay
    Contact Fort Belvoir Public Works EMAIL

Club Kudzu with Friends of Accotink Creek


Every Friday, 12 – 3 pm

Save this parkland from “the vine that ate the South!” Arrive anytime and stay as long as you wish. They recommend sturdy work shoes, long pants, and long sleeves. Water and work gloves will be available. From Braddock Road, go south to the end of Danbury Forest Drive. Park on the street and follow the footpath uphill past the tot lot. Turn left on the main trail and go about 400 yards to the worksite on the right.

Stream monitoring in March

Friends of Accotink Creek Stream Monitoring Session
Lake Accotink Park, Springfield VA
Saturday, 9 March 2019

Join Friends of Accotink Creek volunteers as they assess ecological conditions in a stream, based on the presence and absence of bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Meet at the parking lot behind Lake Accotink Park Administrative Building. See Friends of Accotink Creek for additional stream monitoring information.

Helping Your Stream Through Citizen Science
Chapman DeMary Trail, Purcellville VA
Sunday, 10 March 2019
2-5 pm

Healthy streams and waterways support a wide range of native flora and fauna. The stream running through your neighborhood is vitally important to ensuring that our larger tributaries such as the Potomac River and Goose Creek remain healthy to sustain a diverse wildlife habitat. Local streams can, however, become impaired by urban runoff and development. Join us for a stream-side demonstration and discussion examining how citizen science surveys can be used to assess local stream quality. You will see how biomonitoring surveys are conducted. You will have a chance to look at the data and at aquatic macroinvertebrates. We will discuss how the data is analyzed and how it can be used to improve our streams. At the end, you will have the opportunity to sign up for a spring survey, led by one of Loudoun Wildlife’s citizen science stream monitoring teams. Registration is limited, RSVP to Loudoun Wildlife.

Prince William (Cedar Run) Stream Monitoring Workshop
Evergreen Acres Farm, Hazelwood Dr., Nokesville VA
Saturday, 16 March 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Veronica Tangiri of Prince William SWCD for citizen science monitoring. Come and learn more about the health of this stream and how it interacts with agriculture as it joins the Occoquan River. Contact Veronica for more information or to register.

Powells Creek Stream Monitoring Session
Northgate Dr., Montclair VA
Saturday, 30 March 2019
10 am-12:30 pm

Join Buck Arvin and the Merrimack Master Naturalist Team in monitoring Powells Creek in the Montclair area. Residents are welcome to come and support the data collection of this stream and learn more about water quality in their area. For directions and more information, please RSVP to Buck.

MLK Day Clean up, Americana Drive

Two locations: Intersection of Americana Drive and Patriot Drive and Intersection of Americana Drive and Heritage Drive, Annandale, VA
Monday, 21 January 2019, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
10 am – 2 pm

A group of neighbors has coalesced  to do a cleanup of the illegal dumping areas prevalent along the length of Americana Drive in Annandale.  This effort came together rather suddenly after the holidays.
Americana Drive, which is crossed by three tributaries of Accotink Creek, has been plagued for years by illegal dumping.  Help restore pride to this area!

Sign up online:

More information, supported by Friends of Accotink Creek:

Participate in the 2018 International Coastal Cleanup

The International Coastal Cleanup began more than 30 years ago, when communities rallied together with the common goal of collecting and documenting the trash littering their coastline.   The Friends of Accotink Creek (FACC) will be working to clean up Fairfax County’s waterways as part of this effort.

How can you help? – Join them at one, two, or as many cleanups as you like.

Have friends? – Invite them to join. Spread the word. Your civic association, club, school, business, etc. is welcome to join or share the news in newsletters or websites!

Are you a leader? – Take charge of one or more of the cleanup sites, by registering and directing volunteers.  FACC provide supplies for the day of the cleanup, including trash bags, gloves, and sign-in sheets.

Learn more, see the schedule and register here.

Stream monitoring at Lake Accotink Park

GET YOUR BRAIN WET! Attention adults and children who enjoy helping our parks and environment!  Join Audubon Naturalist Society, Friends of Lake Accotink Park and Friends of Accotink Creek (FOAC) as they catch stream critters (macro invertebrates) to document the health of the stream. This family-friendly event is a great opportunity to learn about what lives in the creek by finding, identifying and counting these creatures.

For more information and to register, please visit the FOAC CALENDAR and click on “Biological Stream Monitoring.”

Accotink Lake Park
7500 Accotink Park Rd, Springfield, VA 22150
Meet in the parking lot behind Lake Accotink Park Administrative building
Saturday, June 9, 2018
9:30 – 11:30 am

Vernal Pool Exploration: Adventure and Education

On a recent sunny April afternoon, educator and vernal pool expert Michael Hayslett led a captivating exploration of vernal pools in the Accotink Creek watershed. Vernal, or ephemeral, pools are seasonal wetlands that provide essential habitat for a variety of life and breeding grounds for frogs and salamanders. Hayslett is conducting an inventory of vernal pools in Fairfax County as part of an initiative by the Fairfax County Park Authority.  He shared his vast knowledge with locals from conservation volunteer groups, youthful naturalists and local governments. Vernal pools are vulnerable to a variety of threats associated with human impact, and this inventory will support efforts to monitor and protect them.

Hayslett nets the pool. Photo by D. Lincoln.

After decontaminating his boots by scrubbing them in a tub of bleach and water to protect amphibians from the dreaded chytrid fungus, Hayslett waded into a pool and began swooping the water with a net. He explained that in order for a pool to be classified as a vernal pool, it must house at least one indicator species. In this region there are four indicator species; the presence of wood frogs, spotted salamanders, marbled salamanders, or the less common fairy shrimp would indicate that the water is a vernal pool.

Hayslett scooped tadpoles into Ziploc® bags filled with water and handed them to his enthralled crowd, talking them through the steps to identify the tadpoles. Did we have an indicator species? How long were the tadpoles? Were their backs very black? Did their bellies have a golden tinge? Bingo. They were wood frog tadpoles, an indicator species: this was a vernal pool. Hayslett had hoped to also find fairy shrimp.

Invertebrates collected at the site.  Photo by D. Lincoln.

While he did not find any fairy shrimp that afternoon, Hayslett has discovered some in Fairfax County.  Unlike frogs and salamanders, fairy shrimp never leave the pool, even as it dries out, but their eggs can remain viable in a dry environment for hundreds of years, hatching only when rains replenish the pool. The eggs can be transported to other pools by wind and by birds.

But why would anything adapt to a pool that’s constantly drying out? The biggest advantage is that fish can’t inhabit them so there’s no competition or predation from hungry fish. The disadvantage, of course, is that these fleeting pools can dry up before the creature has matured from its aquatic to its terrestrial stage, for example, from being a tadpole that needs water to survive, to a frog that can live on land and only needs water to breed. In Virginia, vernal pools range from natural upland wetlands independent of a stream, some of which date back twenty thousand years, to manmade structures that become functional vernal pools.

As the hike proceeded up the trail along the west side of Lake Accotink, the group moved on to a large manmade pond near the old railroad bed.   Some surmise the pond, which is about the size of a baseball field, was built in the 19th century to hold water for the steam locomotives.  Although the pond had held more than a foot of water a month ago, it was now a mud flat. The reason? A stand pipe, that was built to keep the water below a certain level, had been deliberately caved in, allowing the pond to drain under the railroad bed to the lake.  A dead and dried-out mass of wood frog eggs indicated that the pond could be productive as a vernal pool if it was not intentionally drained.

Smashed stand pipe. Photo by D. Lincoln.

Ironically, many such drainage efforts in the 20th century were intended to control mosquitoes. As it turns out, the mud flats are highly productive mosquito breeding grounds, whereas the damselflies and salamanders, who thrive in vernal pools, actually feed on mosquitoes and decimate mosquito populations. This provided an object lesson in how vernal pools have been destroyed through incorrect practices, but they could be brought back to productivity with relatively simple restorative measures.

Water levels in many Lake Accotink Park pool complexes have been controlled by culvert pipes installed to drain high water toward Accotink Creek. Fairfax County’s vernal pools are vulnerable to a variety of threats associated by human impact on the environment, and hopefully Hayslett’s inventory will support efforts to protect them. Hayslett encouraged anyone who has knowledge of a vernal pool that may not have been inventoried to contact him: Principal Consultant, Virginia Vernal Pools, LLC,

Submitted by: Dave Lincoln and Beverley Rivera, Friends of Accotink Creek

Fairfax Vernal Pools Tours

Saturday Feb 24, Kutner Park – 1-2.30pm – 3901 Jermantown Rd, Fairfax, VA 22030 (Sign up here:
Monday, Feb 26, Old Colchester Park – 9.30am-12pm – 10721 Old Colchester Rd, Mason Neck, VA 22079 (200 feet before the entrance gate to the Fairfax Yacht Club) Sign up here:

Vernal pools are seasonal wetlands, rare ecological features that provide essential habitat for a variety of living beings, including frogs and salamanders. They are vulnerable to a variety of threats associated with human impact.  Michael Hayslett (Virginia Vernal Pools LLC), a state expert on vernal pools, will lead the tours.  He is conducting an inventory of the pools as part of an initiative for Fairfax County Park Authority and is being aided by the Friends of Accotink Creek.  For more information, contact Kris Unger at [email protected], or 301-980-5621.