ARMN Summer Chapter Meeting Highlights the Four Mile Run Conservancy Foundation and Mini Bioblitz

Photo of volunteers taking photos of plants.

Text and photos by Rod Mackler, unless otherwise noted.

ARMN held its summer chapter meeting in Alexandria’s Four Mile Run Park.  The “Arlington Region” for the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists includes Alexandria, Falls Church City, and parts of Fairfax County, as well as Arlington County.  It was a glorious day, with temperatures in the 70s and sunny. The ARMN members were eager to learn about the Four Mile Run Conservancy Foundation and explore the park in a mini bioblitz.  

Photo of a group of volunteers listening to a speaker.
ARMN members listen to ARMN President, Phil Klingelhofer, during the summer chapter meeting. Photo by Todd Minners.

The host of the meeting was the  Four Mile Run Conservancy Foundation, headquartered in Del Ray. The Foundation focuses on the lower, tidal portion of the Four Mile Run stream on both shores, Alexandria and Arlington. 

Photo of a map of Four Mile Run watershed
Map of Four Mile Run Watershed at Four Mile Run Park.

Foundation president Kurt Moser introduced us to the Foundation’s work—restoration, advocacy, recreation, and education—then took us over to see its field station nearby. 

Photo of an office.
Four Mile Run Conservancy Foundation field station.

From the field station, the ARMN members launched a mini-bioblitz, dividing up into teams, looking for new (to us) plants and animals, and entering our finds in the iNaturalist app. iNaturalist is a network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists, mapping and sharing observations of animal and plant biodiversity. iNaturalist includes millions of observations entered daily by some 350,000 users as an open-source platform and data base for scientists, land managers, naturalists, citizen scientists, and the members of the public at large.

Four Mile Run Park was a rich source of findings for the bioblitz, with its meadows, wetlands, and woods. We found and uploaded a wide range of native plants, and quite a few invasive plant species, as well. These baddies included bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), purple loosestrife (Lithium salicaria), and porcelain berry (Ampelopsis glandulosa). Observations of invasives are a particularly useful contribution of citizen scientists, giving a good indication of their range and spread. Most of our observations were the plants in the park, but also included a few local animals: fireflies (family Lampyridae), a green heron (Butorides virescens), and an osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Anyone can download the free iNaturalist app to become a part of this worldwide citizen scientist community. Happy hunting!

2 thoughts on “ARMN Summer Chapter Meeting Highlights the Four Mile Run Conservancy Foundation and Mini Bioblitz

  1. (The post has been updated to reflect the following information. ARMN welcomes input from our readers.)

    Thanks for this report, all the work and thought that went into it.

    One correction: The bush honeysuckle that’s invasive in Virginia is not Diervilla, which is native, but one in the Lonicera genus (Lonicera morrowii is a common one, for example).

    The native Diervilla lonicera, also known as “Northern bush honeysuckle,” is a plant found in cooler forests and in Virginia, at higher elevations. I saw a lot of it this summer in WI and MN.

    Common names can lead us to multiple confusions!


  2. Thanks, Joanne. Based on your distinction, I believe what we saw was the invasive, Lonicera sp., which I’ve pulled in the Upton Hill Regional Park.

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