ARMN Blog

Photo showing a newly planted tree. The tree is attached to two stakes, has a deer protector around the base, and mulch on the ground.

Trees Taking Root in Ben Brenman Park

Text and Images by Devin Reese   Recently I participated as an ARMN volunteer for a tree planting event at the Ben Brenman Park in Alexandria. The event was hosted by the Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria. When I arrived, an impressively large group of volunteers was watching a tree…

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Photo of a volunteer standing to the left of the Ozone Bioindicator Garden

ARMN Ozone Bio-indicator Garden: Report From the 2022 Growing Season

by Leslie Cameron The ozone bio-indicator garden at the Walter Reed Community Center (WRCC) is concluding its second full growing season. Arlington Regional Master Naturalists installed the garden in 2020 and are collecting data on the impact of tropospheric or ground level-ozone air pollution on plants, in cooperation with NASA,…

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Arlington’s Native Plant Nursery Restores Our Area’s Native Flora

Text and photos by Leslie Cameron. (Photos were taken on a July 12, 2022 workday unless otherwise noted.) Historically, Arlington County is home to 28% of the native plant species in Virginia—representing substantial plant diversity in the county’s 26 square miles. Unfortunately, Arlington has lost an estimated 200 of these…

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Photo of shrubby st. johns wort

When Gardening for Wildlife, Pick Local Natives Over Cultivars Every Time

By Nancy Cleeland and Kasha Helget. Photos by Toni Genberg unless otherwise noted. Looking to attract more insects, birds, and other wildlife to your garden by planting native species? Bravo! With only about 10 percent of our region dedicated to conservation lands, private native gardens are essential for maintaining healthy…

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Photo of two volunteers in the woods helping each other cut down vines with a loper

Transforming Upton Hill Regional Park

Text and photos by Devin Reese unless otherwise noted. Many people know Upton Hill Regional Park for its popular recreational facilities—batting cages, mini golf, water park, and new climbing structure. The Park has its share of history, too, as a strategic vantage point used by both the Union and Confederate…

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2022 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Environmental Events

Please join your friends, neighbors, and fellow environmental stewards in participating in the following habitat restoration events during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Enjoy the satisfaction of helping to restore these natural areas. Dress in layers for cold weather, bring work gloves, your own tools, if possible, your own water,…

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A Wild Turkey Moves to South Arlington

Text and photos by Leah Pellegrino, unless otherwise noted. In mid-November, residents of a South Arlington condo community welcomed a new, if unusual neighbor—a female Wild Turkey! No one quite knows where she came from, and no male (Tom) turkey has been spotted along with her. She spends her days…

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Photo of ARMN volunteers standing in front of a deer exclosure

Impact of White-Tailed Deer on Arlington’s Forests

by Leslie Cameron and Bill Browning In mid-November, ARMN members Bill Browning, Jeff Elder, Steve Young, and Leslie Cameron met with Arlington Parks and Recreation Conservation and Interpretation Manager Rachael Tolman to evaluate a deer “exclosure” in Gulf Branch Park.  The deer exclosure was built in 2017 as part of…

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Photo of volunteers standing on a path next to the garden

ARMN Ozone Garden Work Continues at Walter Reed Community Center

by Barbara Hoffheins, Todd Minners, Terri McPalmer, and Jon Bell In 2020, Arlington Regional Master Naturalist (ARMN) volunteers initiated the Ozone Garden with the cooperation and support of Arlington County Parks at Walter Reed Community Center (WRCC) located at 2909 16th St S, Arlington, VA 22204. (The beginnings of this…

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Photo of two volunteers next to shrubs in containers waiting to be planted

Habitat Restoration at the Fairlington United Methodist Church

Text and images by Leslie Cameron, unless otherwise noted. On a recent sunny workday in October, volunteers worked to remove invasive plants and plant native shrubs in a habitat restoration area adjacent to the Fairlington United Methodist Church (FUMC), at 3900 King Street in Alexandria. In 2018, FUMC designated the…

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On-going LDS Volunteering Having a Huge Impact in Five Arlington Parks

By Tina Dudley  Since October 2020, Cindy Lund has been assigning young men and women from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to work with ARMN Park Stewards for on-going, weekly volunteer service. Master Naturalist Glenn Tobin first met the LDS missionaries and Cindy, an LDS coordinator,…

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Restoration for the Ages – RiP in Arlington’s Haley Park

Text and images by Devin Reese, unless otherwise noted. A decade ago, the five-acre James W. Haley Park above Gunston Middle School was a mess. Bill McLaughlin, then Curator of Plants for the U.S. Botanic Garden says, “When I walked my dog in Haley Park, I didn’t like what I…

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ARMN at the Arlington County Fair!

By Devin Reese  During the weekend of Aug. 21-22, ARMN volunteers staffed an information table at the Arlington County Fair. Adjacent to the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and 4-H Youth Development tables, we were in a great spot for collaboration and outreach with the Fair’s visitors.  The ARMN table offered…

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Battling Invasives at Glencarlyn Park

Text and Photos by Devin Reese, except as noted. Arlington Regional Master Naturalists have a vendetta against invasive plants because of the damage these invaders do to ecosystems. Invasive plants outcompete native plants, disrupting age-old relationships with insect pollinators and typically reducing the biodiversity of an area. Go on an…

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Revitalizing the Pollinator Garden at the Buddie Ford Nature Center

Text and photos by Leslie Cameron Arlington Regional Master Naturalists joined Extension Master Gardeners and community volunteers on July 17th in an ongoing effort to revitalize the pollinator garden next to the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center in Alexandria.  This hillside pollinator garden contains native plants local to the area,…

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Photo of a volunteer picking up litter while in a kayak

Paddling for Litter on Four Mile Run Stream

by Devin Reese Arlington Regional Master Naturalists find ways to improve their local ecosystems not only on land, but also on the water. The Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation hosts regular stream clean-ups by kayak. All you need to bring is yourself, your enthusiasm for a cleaner stream, and a…

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Photo of a cicada

Periodical Cicadas! What You Should Know About Them and More

The periodical (17-year) cicadas are most definitely here. And there has been a lot of information floating around about them. If you’re confused about where to get the most accurate details, look no further than here! Below are links to three items: a blog piece and two videos—all by renowned…

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Photo of Glenn pulling kudzu vine in front of a creek

Two Honors! Glenn Tobin Earned the 2020 Bill Thomas Volunteer Award, and ARMN is presented the Virginia Chapter of the Wildlife Society’s 2021 A. Willis Robertson Award

Glenn Tobin is the 2020 Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award Winner On April 20, 2021, Glenn Tobin received Arlington County’s Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award for the year 2020. The award recognizes an individual or group whose efforts show ongoing dedication and tangible benefit to Arlington’s natural resources, parks, and…

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The Virginia Opossum: An Extraordinary Marsupial in Our Own Backyards

by Sandy Sohns The Virginia opossum is much maligned, and has a reputation as being a repulsive, aggressive, dirty, garbage-eating pest that should be avoided or killed. Sadly, it is misunderstood and is unappreciated for its contribution to the environment, public health, and science. The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is…

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2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Environmental Events

Please join your friends, neighbors, and fellow environmental stewards in participating in the following habitat restoration events during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Enjoy the satisfaction of helping to restore these natural areas. Dress in layers for cold weather, bring work gloves, your own tools, filled reusable water bottle, and…

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Yellow-rumps: A Bird Watcher’s Delight in the Winter, Spring, and Fall

Text and photos by Ginger Hays (except as noted) Yellow-rumped warblers ((Setophaga coronate) are a very abundant species of the Wood Warbler family—those small, often brightly colored birds that bird watchers go crazy about during spring and fall migration. Bird watchers affectionately call them “butter butts.” There are two primary subspecies of…

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Living in the Fall Zone

by Rosemary Jann Although we may not be aware of it, we live in a region of borderlands. Of course, our area is politically shaped by the explicit borders of the District, Maryland, and Virginia. But the diversity of our plant and animal life derives in part from the fact…

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ARMN: Blog Getting to Know Beth Kiser

By Alison Sheahan I’d be hard-pressed to think of a more terrific way to spend a wintry afternoon than my (pre-pandemic) tea (& goodies!) at Silver Diner with Beth Kiser early this year. I knew of Beth from her efforts to organize the Park Stewards program (Adopt-a-Park leaders who oversee…

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Fall Native Plant Sales are Still On!

Text and photos by Kasha Helget Think there are no opportunities to purchase native plants this fall? Think again!! Below are locations where you can indeed buy the perfect plants to benefit local wildlife and spruce up your yard, too. Autumn is the best time to install new perennials, trees,…

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Roaming Charges: The Environmental Costs of Outdoor Cats

by Rosemary Jann Domesticated cats have lived in human communities for so long that they may seem like an integral part of our natural landscape. However, cats are non-native animals that can pose a significant threat to native wildlife, in the process undermining biodiversity and disrupting the balance of our…

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My Little [Carolina] Chickadees

Text and photos by Noreen Hannigan I learned from renowned entomology professor and author, Doug Tallamy, that native host plants are critical sources of insects for birds to feed their young. One of the earliest Continuing Education events I can remember attending after I graduated ARMN training in 2015 was…

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The Secret Lives of Chipmunks

By Rosemary Jann We have always lived peaceably with our backyard chipmunks. I knew that they had burrows under the cement pad for the AC and behind the garden shed.  But when I found a new burrow hole right up against the foundation of our house, I confess I had…

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Why Do the Mockingbirds Rage? And Other Backyard Mysteries

by Rosemary Jann It must be an indication of how preoccupied I’ve been lately: I didn’t realize the mockingbirds were nesting again until their scratchy chat call exploded over my head as one buzzed me crossing the yard. Northern Mockingbirds are fond of the native honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) in our…

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Virtually Exploring Virginia’s Flora and Fauna

Text by Kristin Bartschi; Logo collage by George Sutherland I don’t enjoy being inside. Getting out in the open air and enjoying nature with my husband and a few friends brings me true joy, so adjusting to quarantine was challenging. Outside of walks around the neighborhood, I spent the first…

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White-tailed Deer and Forest Health in Northern Virginia

by Bill Browning Deer are a natural and beautiful part of our forest. They are Virginia’s largest herbivore, and despite their size, they are fast, agile, and graceful. They are an integral part of our ecosystem. However, their population has grown to the point where they unfortunately are overwhelming other…

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Flying Squirrels—They’re Still Here!

by Kasha Helget A couple of years ago, I shared a story about a wonderful program that Long Branch Nature Center runs each year about our local flying squirrel population. Among other things, we learned that these are southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans), 8-10 inches long (including their tails), and…

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It’s Springtime . . . Shop for and Plant Natives!

Text and photos by Kasha Helget Note: After this was posted, most plant sales were cancelled with the coronavirus. But some individual sellers continue to operate. For example,  Nature by Design and Earth Sangha are selling native plants with special distancing/handling precautions. So, don’t give up on planting natives! But…

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When Nature Takes Charge and We Get Teachable Moments

By Steve Young Sparrow Pond is an artificial wetland and stormwater remediation complex along the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail between Route 50 and Columbia Pike in Arlington. Built circa 2000-2001, the pond has been very successful in capturing sediment that otherwise would have flowed into Four Mile Run,…

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Deep Dive Recap: Dabbling and Diving Ducks

Text by Kristin Bartschi. Photos by George Sutherland. Ducks. They’re cute, they paddle around in parks. Some ducks are so commonplace that we don’t really think twice about them (i.e. the quintessential mallard). But, as with all animals, there is a lot to learn and every duck has a unique…

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