ARMN: Getting To Know Sarah Archer

From time-to-time, ARMN’s Membership Committee posts profiles of our members including how they came to be master naturalists, which parts of nature they most enjoy, and how they have an impact on the environment around them. Here is the latest biography of Arlington staff employee, Sarah Archer, who graduated in the Fall 2013 ARMN training class. Sarah currently manages Arlington’s Invasive Plant Program and is involved with starting the County’s native plant nursery. She is a valuable collaborator for ARMN on a wide variety of projects.

Tell us about the ARMN projects you spend time on.

I have been able to participate in many ARMN projects over the years, but my favorite has to be the restoration of the Barcroft Magnolia Bog. The success of this project was due to all of the great work done by ARMN members.  Marion Jordan, Jim Hurley, Marty Nielson, and others were instrumental in building momentum around the restoration work through community outreach to nearby homeowners and Claremont Elementary School. We received an award from the Virginia Association of Counties for this project because of the collaboration between county staff and groups like ARMN.

I am also really excited about Arlington’s new Native Plant Nursery . We usually have workdays at the nursery every Thursday from 3 – 5 pm.  I am also involved with the RiP/ARMN supported invasive plant removal events at Tuckahoe, Ft. Bennett, Madison Manor, Long Branch, Gulf Branch, and Haley/Oakridge/Gunston (“HOG”) parks. These events are led by our ARMN volunteer site leaders and are great opportunities for community volunteers to learn about invasive plant identification and removal techniques. I am always amazed at how much drive and passion the site leaders have to act as stewards for their neighborhood parks!

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Earth Day 2014, at an Arlington park. Sarah is second from the right.

What brought you to ARMN?/How did you learn about ARMN?

The first time I heard about the Master Naturalist program was from my mom when she took the training in Illinois. I was lucky to get the opportunity to take the ARMN course when they needed an Arlington staff member to open and close building during the training sessions.

What do you like most about ARMN?

I really appreciate the strong relationships that ARMN builds with their partner groups and how informed and motivated the volunteers are!  Arlington County wouldn’t be able to do many of our natural resource conservation and restoration projects without the support of community groups, particularly ARMN.  ARMN volunteers do so much for Arlington’s Parks and Natural Resources Division including not just invasive plant removal, but education and outreach, project planning, surveying, planting, nursery work, etc.  It’s a pretty long list of all of the different types of volunteer projects ARMN participates in. The ARMN membership is so diverse in expertise and interests that they can support almost any project that we have!

Tell us something about your childhood/adulthood experiences that shaped your perspective on nature.

I was a Girl Scout in elementary school and really enjoyed all of the outdoor activities like camping and hiking.  I actually pulled my first invasive plant, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), when I was in Girl Scouts! I didn’t really get interested in pursuing a nature-related career until I joined the Student Conservation Association (SCA) in 2007 after I graduated from Illinois State University (ISU), and did several internships with SCA related to environmental restoration.

What is your background?

During college, I worked with a native plant landscaping company and was a gardener for a few private residents during my summers off. In 2007, I received undergraduate degrees in dance and anthropology from ISU.  After college, I went to California to work for the Bureau of Land Management as an SCA intern and then worked on a trail crew on the Pacific Crest Trail. In 2008, I moved to Maryland with another SCA internship with the Nature Conservancy, and managed invasive plants in the Potomac Gorge.

I began working with the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation in 2009 and received a master’s degree in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech in 2012.

What would other ARMN members find interesting about the non-ARMN parts of your life?

I enjoy many types of social dance, including square, salsa, blues, and kizomba. In college, I performed as a “koken” in a Kabuki production of Othello under the direction of Shozo Sato, an internationally renowned Japanese theater director.

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Sarah doing a fan dance (not Kabuki, but close).

I also love international travel and have a trip planned to Peru, Argentina, and Uruguay over the Christmas holidays!

ARMN: Getting To Know You

From time-to-time, ARMN’s Membership Committee posts profiles of our members including how they came to be master naturalists, which parts of nature they most enjoy, and how they work to impact the environment around them. Here is the latest biography of ARMN volunteer Honora Dent who graduated in the Spring 2014 ARMN training class. ARMN would also like to highlight her involvement with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development Program and the upcoming 4-H Outdoor Explorer volunteer training on February 15th.

Tell us about the ARMN projects on which you spend the most time.

For the past two years I have been an active member of the Arlington County stream monitoring team. I enjoy monitoring the health of county streams by counting and identifying the various macroinvertebrates present in the water. I would have never predicted at this stage of my life I would be wading in streams, scrubbing rocks, and collecting samples of aquatic organisms, or be able to distinguish between a Damsel fly and a Mayfly larva, but I really enjoy it, and appreciate that the County uses the information to monitor long-term trends of our streams.

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Releasing macroinvertebrates into nets, Arlington Outdoor Lab, Broad Run, VA.

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Collecting stream samples, Arlington Outdoor Lab, Broad Run, VA.

Volunteering at Earth Sangha has become an important part of my week. I especially enjoy working at the native plant nursery doing whatever task is assigned, such as planting, weeding, and filling pots. I also enjoy going out in the field to collect native plant seeds and later “cleaning” the seeds for future planting. These tasks offer me a reflective, meditative environment as well as an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with other volunteers.

I enjoy the physical activity involved with invasive plant removal. This past year I joined the National Park Service Weed Warrior program to remove invasives along the George Washington Parkway and on Theodore Roosevelt Island. My most memorable experience was working with 30 students from the International Academy at Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School. Verbal communication within the group was difficult due to language differences, but the smiles on the students’ faces as they enthusiastically removed English ivy and honeysuckle vine from the trees indicated the pleasure and fulfillment they felt working together to make these areas better places.

My most recent ARMN adventure is participating in 4-H Outdoor Explorers at Randolph Elementary School in Arlington. This after school program takes place at a few elementary schools in Arlington and offers students an opportunity to learn more about the environment with a focus on fun and exploration. Partnering with Arlington County’s Extended Day Program, 4-H Outdoor Explorers volunteers promote youth environmental literacy, encourage outdoor play, and serve as positive adult role models. I have had very little experience working with youth, and while working with the students has been challenging, it is also very rewarding.

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Photo courtesy of National 4-H Council.

How did you learn about ARMN?

I first heard about ARMN from friend and fellow ARMN member, Pat Findikoglu. We were at the Columbia Pike Farmers Market catching up on our lives and she mentioned ARMN. The more Pat talked about the ARMN training course and the variety of volunteer and educational opportunities, the more I knew that I wanted to sign up. I had always enjoyed spending time in nature but had little formal training and ARMN seemed like a good fit. I submitted my application, graduated from the Spring 2014 class, and have no regrets. Without a doubt joining ARMN was one of the best investments I have made in my life.

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Honora at an Earth Sangha plant sale (Photo courtesy of Toni Genberg.)

What do you like most about ARMN?

Without a doubt the best thing about ARMN is its volunteers. I have never met a more welcoming, knowledgeable, and fun-loving group. ARMN offers me a vast variety of ways to occupy my time with meaningful work, a community of likeminded people to learn from and share experiences, and educational classes to enhance my knowledge of the natural world. Thanks to ARMN I have learned so much and have become a better steward of the environment.

Tell us something about your childhood/adulthood experiences that shaped your perspective on nature?

Spending time outside enjoying and observing nature has been part of my entire life. I had the good fortune to grow up within walking distance of the Severn River in Maryland and spent much of my free time exploring the river and nearby woods. I learned about birds, crabs, fish, turtles, snakes, and many other creatures from an elderly neighbor who had lived on the river her whole life. I also learned about local plants and critters from a science teacher who lived across the street. One of my earliest memories is watching a turtle laying her eggs in our sandbox.

My family spent every summer at Higgins Lake in Northern Michigan. Time at Higgins Lake was especially exciting as we had no electricity or indoor plumbing. The family cabin sat along a large freshwater inland lake surrounded by an oak and white birch forest. We spent our days fishing, boating, swimming, and walking in the woods. My favorite after dinner activity was riding my bike along the dirt “2-track” roads looking for deer and other wildlife.

What is your background?

Before retiring I worked for 46 years at a local hospital as a Registered Nurse and IT Analyst. During my nursing career I participated in direct patient care, nursing management, and administration. My information technology positions focused on building and managing the clinical documentation database as well as training clinical staff and physicians.

What would other ARMN members find interesting about the non-ARMN parts of your life?

I am a very competitive person who loves to participate in of all types of sports including tennis, cycling, softball, and basketball. Since retiring I have learned to play pickleball, which I play 2–3 times per week with other Arlington seniors at the Walter Reed Senior Center.

New Life for Nauck Woods

by Sue Dingwell and Lori Bowes

A treasured historic woodland area in South Arlington has been restored to its native glory with the help of some dedicated volunteers. Here is the story of the Nauck Woods and the folks who helped revive it.

(Photos by Sue Dingwell unless otherwise noted.)

Nothing can stop an ARMN invasives crew! Despite cool temps and a sketchy forecast, dedicated ARMN members showed up on Saturday, January 13 to help with invasive plant and trash removal at the intriguing little corner in Arlington known as Nauck Woods. This little parcel, now totally clear of ivy on the tree trunks, is full of native plants, both apparent and also about-to-be apparent as they are carefully released from the choking bondage of invasives.

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ARMN President Marion Jordan (left) and Continuing Education Chair Lori Bowes (right) demonstrate deft invasive removal skills.

 

A little background: Nauck Woods is the largest naturalized parcel in the Nauck community, the oldest African American neighborhood in Arlington. The community was settled in 1844 as former residents of Freedman’s Village began moving into the area after the Civil War. In 2013, Nauck Woods was considered as a site for the new headquarters of Phoenix Bikes, a youth bicycle repair and entrepreneurial development nonprofit. After neighborhood opposition, that plan was scrapped and ARMN and TreeStewards began to support efforts to preserve the trees and nature in Nauck Woods.

On Martin Luther King Day (January 16, 2017), a second wave of ARMN volunteers joined the effort and collected more trash and started to remove ivy from trees along Four Mile Run. Together we can! Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt came and worked the entire two hours. Thank you, John!

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Tired but happy invasives crew and some fruits of their labors. (Photo courtesy of Caroline Haynes.)

Even in winter, the site was full of both beauty and promise. Deep green leaves of mature American holly trees (Ilex americana) were resplendent with silver droplets; a few as-yet uneaten berries decorated greenbrier vines (Smilax rotundifolia); a little stream coursed through the Woods, greatly enhancing wildlife value; and bird song gave evidence that this little haven is already providing refuge.

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American holly (left) and greenbrier berries (right) provide color, food, and shelter for wildlife.

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Freshwater stream through Nauck Woods.

 

ARMN Master Naturalists are now planning spring activities that encompass work in the Arlington native plant nursery, planting in parks and gardens, citizen science projects, and more. Stay tuned! We are making an extra effort this year to engage help from the public.

For details about the intriguing greenbrier plant, see Sue Dingwell’s post about it on the Virginia Native Plant Society blog.

Powhatan Springs Skatepark: An ARMN Community Work-in-Progress

by Bill Browning

Bill Browning, an ARMN Board member and dedicated volunteer, recounts how he and fellow ARMN member, Matt Parker, spearheaded an effort to revive the neglected wooded area of Powhatan Springs Skatepark with the help of the community.

Following our graduation from the Fall 2013 ARMN Basic Training course, Matt Parker and I were looking for a volunteer project that we could make our own. Jim Hurley, ARMN’s then Vice President and Service Committee Chair, was only too happy to give us some ideas. In December 2013, Jim took us on a tour of a three+ acre site that was in need of some TLC behind Powhatan Springs Skatepark on Wilson Boulevard. The park was a good candidate because it was small enough for us to make a significant contribution even if we were the only two people working on it. Further, the park had a number of stately trees covered in ivy and we were sure we could remove it without a lot of supervision.

Known as Reeves Run, the park was once part of the historic Reevesland farm, which was the last operating dairy farm in Arlington. When the farm ceased operation in 1955 and was mostly subdivided and sold, Reeves Run began a long period of neglect. Indeed, the day Jim, Matt, and I walked through it, we could barely bushwhack our way through the site because of dense coverage of Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora) and a depressing accumulation of trash.

Jim saw the potential value of the site as a natural habitat. He noted that an Arlington County botany study listed almost 90 species in that area including a couple important large trees. This is impressive for such a tiny plot. Plus, Jim noted that the park contained the County champion Red Mulberry (Morus rubra). We also discovered that someone, many years ago, installed a wire fence around the Red Mulberry and the tree grew into the fence, becoming deeply embedded into it.

Jim was sure that we could make a significant positive impact, even if we just cut the invasive English Ivy (Hedera helix) and Creeping Euonymous (Euonymus fortunei) that was strangling many of the large trees.

Early in 2014, Matt and I made several forays into the park. We would pick a small section each time and focus on the trees covered with invasive vines. That said, it was hard to ignore the nasty exotics on the ground. Several times I had to cut myself out of a Multiflora Rose thicket and Matt cursed the Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) every time he passed it. But we focused primarily on the trees, section by section.

We soon determined that we could do more for the park with additional volunteers. So, on Earth Day 2014, we held our first community event in the park. Josh Handler of the Boulevard Manor Civic Association marshaled neighborhood resources, and Matt, Jim, and l reached out to the community at nearby Ashlawn Elementary School, as well as skatepark users and ARMN members. That first group of volunteers filled almost a dozen large trash bags with plant debris and trash. Josh also used his civic association’s website to implore neighbors to cease dumping trash and yard waste in the park.

Earth Day 2014 volunteer and their loot.

Earth Day 2014 volunteer and their loot.

We have held four other community-wide efforts since then and always have had a core group of naturalists and neighbors to target vines and other invasives. Once a volunteer attacked the Multiflora Rose exclusively; given the scratches I have experienced from their thorns, she became my hero. During another session the entire group tried to focus on Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolate). Finding and pulling the Garlic Mustard during its second year of growth was easy, but when we turned to the first year leaflets we became overwhelmed and gave up. I’ve since learned from Sarah Archer, a Natural Resources Specialist in Arlington County, that ignoring the first year leaflets of Garlic Mustard might be a good strategy because only half of them make it to the second year when they are much easier to remove. In October 2015, we began adding native plants donated by Earth Sangha. Mary Frase, a Fairfax Master Naturalist and Master Gardener, led our effort to plant seedlings of Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea), Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris), Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Grape Vine (Vitis sp.), Boxelder (Acer negundo), Sumac (Rhus sp.), and American Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia). Unfortunately, it appears they did not survive.

As a result of the efforts of ARMN and the Boulevard Manor Civic Association, Arlington County began to supply some professional resources to beef up the impact. This began and continues with consultations from Sarah Archer, as well as her support in body or spirit. Then the County sent Invasive Plant Control, Inc. (IPC), a contractor it uses to treat invasive plants when such remedies are more efficient than hand-pulling. For five days in June 2015, IPC treated nearly 30 invasive plant species, ranging from Norway maple (Acer platanoides) to Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) to Jet Bead (Rhodotypos scandens). And in June 2016, Lyndell Core, a County park manager, met with us to explore how to address piles of bricks, cement, wood, and fencing that may be covering an old well.

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Jet Bead. Photo courtesy of IPC, Inc.

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Multiflora Rose. Photo courtesy of IPC, Inc.

During our latest walk-through of the site, Sarah Archer said she’s exploring ways the County may help in the near future. Possibilities include spot chemical treatment of Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) by County staff, and if there’s money, IPC’s treatment of English Ivy and euonymous on the forest floor.

At this point, I can proudly report that the park is coming back to life! In April 2016, we found Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) and this October, we discovered a literal sea of American Pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana).

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Skunk cabbage. Photo courtesy of Bill Browning.

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American Pokeweed. Photo courtesy of Bill Browning.

But there’s still a ton of work to do. Under the Pokeweed are likely masses of Garlic Mustard waiting to emerge next spring. There is also concern about deer from nearby Upton Hill that graze the property.

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Garlic mustard. Photo courtesy of Bill Browning.

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Evidence of deer rubbing. Photo courtesy of Bill Browning.

All in all, we are very proud of the glory to which Powhatan Skatepark is returning. On a recent walk along Wilson Boulevard, Josh Handler commented that he was struck by “how much better the ‘skyline’ of the park looks from a few years ago—devoid of the overgrown invasives on the trees.” We hope you can check it out this view yourself—or even better—pitch in on a future restoration event there.

For anyone interested in pursuing restoration of a park or other public area, please let ARMN know! Members of the community cannot remove plants (even invasive ones) from public land without permission. ARMN can assist in contacting the right offices and with assembling volunteers to do the work. Send your requests for assistance to “Contact Us” in the navigation bar above.

Spring Wonders in Potomac Overlook Regional Park

ARMN volunteer and Master Gardener Joanne Hutton reports on spring’s largesse in the native plant garden at Potomac Overlook Regional Park (with photos by the author unless otherwise indicated).

by Joanne Hutton

Spring rains yielded floral abundance this year, and the unfolding of spring at Potomac Overlook Regional Park’s Shady Native Plant Demo Garden was glorious—if you got there in between the showers. This is a space that ARMN maintains for public enjoyment and edification.

The PORP garden was the brainchild of, among others, Long Branch Nature Center naturalist Cliff Fairweather, and has enjoyed support and donations from the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, Virginia Native Plant Society, Earth Sangha, Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, and the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists. It is coming into its own in its fifth year, even as it is a work in progress. We’ve learned a lot about what the deer like to eat in a setting to which they were already habituated, especially geraniums, goldenrods, viburnums, ninebark, and some asters.

We have watched the lovely Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum) establish under a dogwood and twine with the Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens). The latter is a very quiet little groundcover, and I’ve discovered that, while it’s happier with the drainage a small slope offers, this year it bloomed happily the first week of June, despite the rainy conditions.

The Sweet Wake Robin (Trillium erectum var. vaseyi), also called the Stinking Benjamin, was also in bloom, although I confess I didn’t inhale it deeply. This plant is hardly “erectum,” which is why it’s treated as a separate species in some references, and is likely more common farther south. It has various medicinal (and also toxic) properties, and the freshly unfolding spring bracts are edible. To my mind they are too beautiful to consider harvesting.

Sweet Wake Robin (Trillium erectum var. vaseyi)

Sweet Wake Robin (Trillium erectum var. vaseyi)

(Trillium erectum)

Sweet Wake Robin, a.k.a. Stinking Benjamin

Deer do NOT browse on the Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) that has spread to several beds and throws a golden haze over them in March and April. Similarly, deer avoid the native Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) that’s created a rich green border under the Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus floridus). Another delightful groundcover, Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum), has eluded predation. Like the Partridge Berry, it prefers decent drainage, especially during winter months. It’s a merry little plant that bloomed this year for nearly two months and is still going strong. Try it in your garden, if you haven’t already. Better yet, come to a work party (look for upcoming events on the ARMN Volunteer page) and we’ll dig you a piece!

Green and Gold (Chrysogonum  virginianum)

Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)

Ferns are only occasionally sampled by deer, and you can see at least eight different species in the demo garden. Some are delicate and others like the Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) are statuesque.

Photo 4 Cinnamon fern fertile spikes (Joanne Hutton)

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) spikes

There are always things to see in the park. Some of them require a careful eye—to discover a recently emerged toad, uncover a baby box turtle not two inches long while weeding, or spot the source of warbler songs in the high canopy above.

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

Photo 6 Baby box turtle (Elizabeth Gearin)

Baby Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) (photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gearin)

We are grateful for the support of the new park manager, Doranne Pittz. If you come to visit PORP, please introduce yourself to Doranne, who is new to Arlington. She has promised to install a sign to explain the garden’s purpose. And we are working on garden markers to highlight the valuable species that flourish in the shade and offer something for everyone—even the White-tailed Deer.

Many Ways and Many Days to Celebrate Earth Day 2016

The 46th annual commemoration of Earth Day is Friday, April 22. Here are a number of activities, events, and volunteer opportunities on and near Earth Day to honor Mother Earth for all she does for us every day.

Pick one or more ways to join the celebration!

EVENTS

Arlington provides opportunities to “Be Earth-Friendly Every Day” with a month-long calendar of fun and beneficial environmental activities and suggestions for sustainable projects and programs, educational and volunteer opportunities, places to enjoy nature, and a bluebell walk on the 22nd. See: http://environment.arlingtonva.us/earthday/ and http://www.carfreediet.com/pages/news-events/event-details/?eventID=2729 for details.

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia highlights several bird-related events around the holiday. There is the First Annual ASNV Earth Day Big Sit, April 22–23, with the goal of identifying as many bird species as possible within a set area. The event will take place at Whitehall Farms in Clifton as part of its Spring Festival. ASNV is also seeking adult and teen volunteers each day. Volunteers get free admission to the festival. To sign up, click: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0548a4ae28aafd0-bigsit.

A second ASNV event is Birdathon 2016 from April 22–May 15. Birdathon is an annual spring-migration birding competition in which teams secure donations and then pick a 24-hour period between April 22 and May 15 to identify as many bird species as possible. There are prizes for most money raised and most species identified. Click: http://audubonva.org/birdathon for more information.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Urban Bird Celebration is Saturday, April 23. All ages, youth, and families are invited to Lubber Run Park in Arlington to learn more about birds. There will be hands-on activities, light refreshments, and more! For details, see: https://arlingtonmasternaturalists.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/4-h-urban-bird-flyer.pdf.

The 2016 Eagle Festival will be April 23 at Mason Neck State Park. The event will feature live wildlife shows, guided hikes, food and drinks available from the Lions Club, live music, pony rides, and other activities. See: http://masonneckstateparkfriends.org/event-2189714 for more information.

This year’s Alexandria Earth Day celebration will be Saturday, April 30, with the theme, “Choose to Reuse—Your Choices Matter.” There will be educational exhibits, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for all ages. It will also feature the “Upcycling Showcase,” in which students will demonstrate their creative interpretation of Earth Day through literature, fashion, visual arts, and performing arts. For more information, see: https://www.alexandriava.gov/EarthDay.

Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment are sponsoringGo Gaga for Green 2016” on April 30.
This family-friendly, community-wide event benefits environmental programs run by George Mason University (Arlington campus) and Arlington and showcases Operation Rain Barrel and the Arlington Green Patriot Awards, recognizing community leaders in sustainability. See: http://www.arlingtonenvironment.org/go-gaga-for-green/ for additional details.

Fairfax County’s official Earth Day and Arbor Day event is April 30 at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. Among the activities are family-friendly events, educational workshops, vendors, and kids’ activities, including a film festival on restoration projects. There will also be food trucks and a plant sale. More information is at: http://www.springfestfairfax.org/.

PLANT SALES

City of Alexandria Spring 2016 Native Tree and Shrub Sale—accepting orders online through May 7 at: https://rec.alexandriava.gov/webtrac/wbwsc/rt14prd.wsc/wbsearch.html?wbsi=86e19402-4a2d-d9b8-e511-20fb821a33c7&xxmod=PS, or in person at the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center, 5750 Sanger Ave, Alexandria. All plants are $20. They may be picked up the Ford Nature Center Saturday, May 21 from 10 am to 2 pm. For more information, see RPCA Spring 2016 Native Tree Shrub Sale Flyer or contact Majd Jarrar at: 703-746-5525 or Majd.Jarrar@alexandriaVA.gov.

Falls Church City Native Plant Sale run by Girl Scout Troop 1251. Plant list and form available April 18, and plants are available May 1. E-mail melanite@verizon.net for the form and more information.

Saturday, April 23, 9 am–3 pm, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Morven Park, 17195 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg, www.loudounwildlife.org.

Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District’s Native Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale—accepting online orders now. The seedlings will be available for pick up on Friday, April 29, 9 am–4 pm, or Saturday, April 30, 9 am–12 pm at the Fred M. Packard Center, 4022 Hummer Road, Annandale. For more information, call 703-324-1460; TTY 711. To view and learn more about the seedlings and place an order, visit the NVSWCD website at: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/seedlingsale.htm.

Saturday, April 30, 2016, 9 am–2 pm, Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale, Church of St. Clement parking lot, 1701 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA, www.NorthernAlexandriaNativePlantSale.org.

Saturday, April 30, 1–4 pm (rain date: May 1, 1–4 pm), Long Branch Native Plant Sale, Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Road, Arlington. Pre-order information and other details are at: http://www.arlingtonmill.org/announcements/pre-ordernowforthespringnativeplantsale.

Saturday, April 30, 8–11 am, Friends of Riverbend Park annual Spring Native Plant Sale, at the Great Falls Grange Pavilion, 9818 Georgetown Pike in Great Falls. See: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/press/html/psa062-16.htm for details.

Sunday, May 1, 2016, 10 am–2 pm, Earth Sangha Wild Plant Nursery Plant Sale and Open House, Franconia Park, Cloud Drive, Springfield. See http://www.earthsangha.org/wpn/wpn.html for plants and directions.

VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES

Arlington: Invasive Plant Removal Events

Saturday, April 16:

10 am–12 pm, Tuckahoe Park, Contact: Mary McLean, 703-966-2047, marydmclean@verizon.net;

2–4 pm, Madison Manor Park, Contact: Jo Allen, 703-474-2671, jo.allen@comcast.net.

Sunday, April 17:

2–5 pm, Long Branch Nature Center, Contact: Steve Young, 703-966-2966, frazmo@gmail.com.

Saturday, April 23: 

10 am–12 pm, Benjamin Banneker Park, Contact: Eric Sword, 571-338-8508, ericsword@gmail.com.

Saturday, April 23:

10 am–12 pm, Dora Kelley Park (meet at Buddie Ford Nature Center), Contact: Lauren Harper, lauren.harper@alexandriava.gov.

Sunday, April 24: 

10 am–12 pm, Ft. Bennett Park, Contact: Mary McCutcheon, 703-217-8850, mmccutch@gmu.edu.

Alexandria: Park Trash Clean-up Event

Saturday, April 16 (rain date: April 17):

9 am–12 pm, Dora Kelley Park (park entrances by tennis courts on Chambliss St, Morgan St, or Holmes Run Pkwy), Contact: Dave Dexter, davedexter91@gmail.com. Wear weather/work-appropriate clothing and shoes; gloves, trash pickers, and trash bags provided.

Remembering Jerry Shrepple

 

ARMN lost one of its long-term and dedicated members, Jerry Schrepple, on March 15, 2016.  Jerry had been an active volunteer since graduating with the Spring 2009 ARMN Basic Training class. Jerry contributed to so many habitat restoration projects, including invasive removal and plantings in local parks, seed collection, cleaning, and nursery work with Earth Sangha, and stream-water monitoring. He was known for his expertise in building bird houses and he happily shared that knowledge through hands-on workshops. Jerry championed the restoration of the site next to the bike path by Bon Air Park in Arlington. This “Take Back the Trail” project resulted in the transformation of a previously neglected site covered with invasives into a meadow that now features native plants which are visible to all who use that section of the bike path.  ~Marion Jordan, ARMN president, on behalf of ARMN

[Tributes compiled by Kasha Helget, ARMN communications chair]

Courtesy Rodney Olsen (3)

Photo courtesy of Rodney Olsen

ARMN members are grateful to have known Jerry, and we will miss him very much. We will not forget his many contributions to our natural environment or his warm smile and gentle presence among us. I am very saddened and sorry to send this…. The Earth lost a true friend and supporter with his passing. You would be very hard pressed to find a more hard-working and dedicated person in his support for the environment. I would always joke around with him on the numerous projects he helped the County with. I am sorry to hear about his passing. Jerry will be missed…. ~Alonso Abugattas

I am so saddened as well. Jerry and I planted Yoshino Cherry trees near the chapel at Arlington Cemetery. We worked together in a bird box class. Jerry was a sweet friend, champion of birds, expert bird-box maker; genteel and upbeat in many ways. He was brave and courageous in every way. ~ Melanie LaForce

Jerry [was a] most generous and supportive person. He joined my son’s CSA and was an enthusiastic and loyal member!  ~ Brooke Alexander

I so appreciated Jerry’s pleasant personality. I enjoyed putting together the birdhouse kits too, and look forward to seeing his native meadow project efforts blooming! ~ Yolanda Villacampa

I will always remember Jerry for his constant smile. ~ Rebecca Bragg

I am grateful to have known Jerry and to have worked with him on many invasive removals, plantings or other habitat restoration projects. Jerry was always willing to tackle the tough jobs and would come prepared with his own pickaxe. One of my favorite memories is the project at Barcroft where we engaged Wakefield High School students to help clearing and planting for a meadow under a power line. He soon had the group eagerly clearing heavy brush, digging holes for planting in the impossibly compacted soil, and otherwise helping to transform the site. Amid all this activity, he brought his usual calm and smiling presence. I will miss him very much. ~ Marion Jordan

[Jerry] never took the [TreeStewards] class, but his constant showing up at work events that TreeStewards organized to remove invasive plants made him a revered “friend of TreeStewards” or, more importantly, someone who crossed all boundaries whether organizational or jurisdictional to save trees and native habitats from destruction. ~ Nora Palmatier 

Jerry’s [2009 training] class presentation on bird behavior was educational, highly entertaining, and memorable. Jerry became the birds he was talking about, completely embodying the attitude, movements, and dispositions of the birds he was describing. 

I will miss working shoulder-to-shoulder with Jerry on invasive pulls and restoration plantings. His indefatigable spirit, energy, and enthusiasm were infectious, and it was hard not to have fun when working with Jerry. He was a kind soul and his passion was inspirational. ~ Caroline Haynes

Lesson learned from Jerry: Walk softly and carry a big root cutter! ~ Stephanie Martin

I am so grateful that I got to experience Jerry’s kind words, gentle smile, and his appreciation for our natural world. He was an incredibly hard-working and dedicated volunteer for ARMN. He will be missed by our organization in so many ways. ~ Christine Campe-Price

… I was very saddened to learn of [Jerry’s death]. I hope we can continue his work along the W&OD at the meadow.  

Jerry’s last email to me in January demonstrated what I loved about him. I had invited ARMN to work with me at Fraser Preserve in January at a program entitled “Barberry, Birds, and Beer.” Jerry responded, “Two things I love, and one I hate. Count me in.” 

He was devoted, charming, even-keeled, intelligent, and someone who could always be counted on. I’m surprised at how much I miss him. ~ Lori Bowes

In assembling the tributes to Jerry, it became clear that he touched so very many lives. Undoubtedly, he will live on in our memories, and in the legacy he has left to the Earth. I think it is the greatest aim that any of us can have.

And no, Lori, I am not surprised at how much you miss him. We all do. ~ Kasha Helget

Chestnut Planting Update

In December 2013, Arlington County Forester Vincent Verweij supervised the planting of 20 American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) saplings in a number of locations in the county. The saplings, which had been grown at the Earth Sangha nursery in Springfield, were planted in small groups at Benjamin Banneker Park, Bluemont Park, Fort C.F. Smith, Fort Scott, Glencarlyn Park, Gulf Branch and Long Branch Nature Centers, and an experimental site along Route 50. They represented a tangible hope that the iconic American tree might be restored to areas in which it once thrived. (See the February 5, 2014, ARMN in Action post for the original story.)

As the second anniversary of the chestnut planting approached, Verweij checked on all the planting sites to evaluate how they had fared in the past two years. Here are his notes (and photos) from his visits:

Benjamin Banneker: One survivor, doing great!

American Chestnut

Bluemont: One survivor. Got chomped by deer, but still alive.

Bluemont

Fort C.F. Smith: Could not find surviving trees, but it was not an ideal spot for chestnuts. Did find one twig that appeared to be American Chestnut, without life on it.

Fort Scott: Could not find any either.  Also hard to investigate.

Glencarlyn: Found one survivor. Doing well, but heavily foraged. Gives me some hope that some of the insects that coevolved with chestnuts are still around. More heavily foraged than anything around it.

Glencarlyn Forage

Gulf Branch: At least one survivor, doing well.

Gulf Branch

Long Branch: Could not find any surviving trees. Hard to investigate the site.

Route 50: Mowed over, despite putting in stakes. Figured this would happen, but it was worth a shot.

Verweij pointed out that the the discovery of 4 surviving trees out of 20 planted was “about as good/bad as I expected, to be honest.” His findings seem to validate the dispersed-planting strategy that was used back in 2013. Dispersal, apparently, did create a variety of growing conditions that allowed some of the pioneering saplings to be successful.

Fingers (leaves?) crossed for the survivors!

ARMN Member Mary McLean Wins Bill Thomas Award

mary-mclean-bill-ross-in-front-of-orchid-umbels-of-joe-pye

Mary McLean in Tuckahoe Park

The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists proudly announce that on April 21, 2015, ARMN member Mary McLean was named a recipient of the Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteer Award for her work in 2014.

McLean is a steward at Tuckahoe Park in Arlington and her specialty is invasive plants. Since the early 2000s, she has enlisted the help of neighbors, volunteer and school groups, and many others to transform the park and educate them on how to spot a non-native plant species. As a result, Tuckahoe has benefitted from a significant decline in non-native, invasive species, restored health of the native trees, and the return of native shrubs and ground cover.

In addition, McLean has also conducted focused tours and presentations on Tuckahoe Park’s underground stream and other ecological wonders to help educate and motivate others to join in the beautification effort. She also has volunteered at and served professionally as the Outdoor Learning Coordinator at Tuckahoe Elementary School. In those roles, she has worked with teachers, volunteers, and students in Tuckahoe Park on restoring habitat, planting natives, controlling erosion, and learning the natural history of the park.

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Earth Month 2015: Ways to Show You Care

April is Earth Month, and events to commemorate Earth Day’s 45th anniversary are right around the corner! Here are a number of opportunities––open to all––to participate in cleanups, view gardens with native plants that beautify and support local wildlife, learn how to take care for the environment, and celebrate our home on Earth.

Spring Garden Tour in Arlington Forest, Sunday April 19, 12 – 4 pm

233 N. Galveston St., Arlington VA, and 210 N. Evergreen St., Arlington, VA. Visit two properties in the same neighborhood with different approaches to native-plant gardening. This event is sponsored by the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and is free and open to the public. No reservations are necessary.

Alexandria Earth Day Celebration!, Saturday, April 25, 10 am – 2 pm

Ben Brenman Park, 4800 Brenman Park Drive [http://alexandriava.gov/EarthDay].This free event will include children’s activities, exhibits by community groups, food sales, tree sales, recycling, an Arbor Day tree planting, and a musical performance.

You can also show your concern for Mother Earth by participating in these volunteer opportunities::

Saturday, April 18, 2 – 4 pm, Madison Manor Park,

6225 12th Rd. N., Arlington, VA. Contact: Jo Allen, 703-474-2671, jo.allen@comcast.net.

Saturday, April 18, 10 am – 12 pm, Tuckahoe Park,

2400 N. Sycamore St., Arlington, VA. Contact: Mary McLean, 703-966-2047, marydmclean@verizon.net.

Sunday, April 19, 2 – 5 pm, Long Branch Park,

625 S. Carlin Springs Rd., Arlington, VA. Contact: Steve Young, 571-388-8508, frazmo@gmail.com.

Saturday, April 25, 10 am – 3 (Lunch included!), Arlington Mill/ Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing site along Four Mile Run, 909 S. Dinwiddie St. (on Columbia Pike), Arlington, VA. Contact: Patricia Findikoglu, 703-975-8292, patfin2@aol.com.

Saturday, April 25, 10 am – 12 pm, Benjamin Banneker Park,

6620 N. 18th St., Arlington, VA. Contact: Eric Sword, 571-338-8508, ericsword@gmail.com.

Sunday, April 26, 10 am – 12 pm, Ft. Bennett Park,

2220 N. Scott St., Arlington, VA. Contact: Mary McCutcheon, 703-217-8850, mmccutch@gmu.edu.