911 for Wildlife and How You Can Help!

Text and photos by Lisa Stern

Do you wonder what you should do when you find injured wildlife?  Read on to discover more about wildlife rehabilitation.

Ever wonder what you should do when you find an injured squirrel? Or a baby bird that has fallen from the nest? Or a turtle with a cracked shell? Or, how about a snake caught in garden webbing?

Virginia has two terrific resources that fill this vital need: the Wildlife Rescue League (WRL) and Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators (WRs). They are on call practically 24/7 to help. It may look like an easy job; just scoop up that baby bird, or untangle the poor snake, but there are many species-specific laws and regulations governing the handling of wildlife, some training to become a volunteer with the League, and a lot of training and mentoring to become a Wildlife Rehabilitator (WR). Here is more information about each and how you can assist with wildlife rehab.

Wildlife Rescue League

The Wildlife Rescue League (WRL) is a nonprofit, all volunteer organization whose primary purposes are to operate a wildlife assistance hotline (providing the public with advice, resources, referrals to licensed rehabilitators), transport wildlife from shelters and vets to licensed rehabilitators, and educate the public on wildlife laws and how to exist with our wild neighbors, thereby preventing situations that lead to the need for wildlife rehabilitation.

The WRL volunteers field approximately 5,000 calls a year! That helpless baby bird found in the grass really may not need a human to scoop it up—it’s possibly learning to fly and the mom is nearby. Hotline volunteers help the caller determine that, in this case, intervention is not required. What about the snake?

Well, that’s a different story. If he’s cut in several places, lost scales, and is not well, he will need an intervention and transport to a licensed WR. In this case, the hotline volunteer will find a WR and arrange transport.

Photo of injured black rat snake by Lisa Stern

Black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus) with injuries from being caught in garden webbing.

 

Once an injured, orphaned, or abandoned animal is transported to a WR, it will be treated until it can be safely released.

Carolyn Wilder, Vice President of WRL, has a wealth of knowledge and experience on wildlife rescue. She got involved in the organization while transitioning out of a legal career with a trade association. She started as a transporter because of her love of animals and eventually became a hotline volunteer which she has been doing for 3 years. Because of her work in both areas, and creating relationships with WRs, Carolyn became involved on the board. She now spends her time coordinating and training transporters, offering group training for hotline volunteers, doing presentations for schools and groups, and working to make WRL function more efficiently.

Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators

WRs are licensed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). Becoming a wildlife rehabilitator requires a big commitment of time and energy, need for appropriate space, and a true love of wildlife. First, anyone interested in the program must take 6 hours of approved continuing education before even filling out the application to become an apprentice. Apprentices must have a sponsoring licensed WR who cares for the species they wish to rehabilitate, spend two years working under the supervision and guidance of their sponsor, and are generally limited to caring for uninjured, orphaned wildlife. In addition, since most rehabbers work out of their homes, apprentices must have a home inspection completed by the VGDIF to ensure that there is an adequate, quiet designated area for the care of wildlife. They also complete 6 hours of continuing education annually, may be required to have a rabies vaccine, and must maintain a full record of wildlife received.

Most WRs “specialize”—choosing a species and age range that fits their lifestyle and space. For example, pinky squirrels (newborns) need more feedings per day than juveniles. Baby bunnies need to be fed only twice a day. And, how much room do you have? Enough for baby ducklings needing bins of water to swim in and heat lamps?

After two years of wildlife care experience, the apprentice can begin to care for wildlife without a sponsor’s supervision, complete 6 hours of continuing education annually, work with a licensed veterinarian, have inspections of the holding facility, and get any required immunizations based on the wildlife cared for. Additional permits are required for WRs who desire to work with most birds, eagles, and threatened or endangered species.

Rachael Tolman, the Park Naturalist at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington, has been a rehabber for many years and has been through the certification process several times since each state and country has different regulations and covered species. While a rehabber in Australia, Rachael worked with baby kangaroos! Here in Virginia, her focus is on turtles and snakes.

Photo of Rachel Tolman (Long Branch Park Naturalist) holding turtle, by Lisa Stern

Rachael Tolman holding Woodland box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) with a cracked shell.

 

Photo of injured woodland box turtle by Lisa Stern

Close-up of Woodland box turtle.

However, you won’t see any of the injured critters on display at Long Branch, since they are tucked away in quiet spaces to get the rest they need for recovery and eventual release.

Though time consuming to become a licensed WR and to nurse injured animals back to health, rehabbers like Rachael find a deep satisfaction in eventually being able to return wildlife to their natural habitat.

Would You Like to Volunteer to Help Wildlife?

If so, contact the Wildlife Rescue League for more information on answering the hotline (training provided), transporting wildlife, or assisting with other activities.

If you’re ready for a greater commitment to becoming an apprentice or licensed WR, there is additional information on WRL’s website on how to begin training for the program.

In either case, you’ll sure to be rewarded by helping our furry, scaled, and feathered friends return to their homes in the wild.

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!

Photo 1 (1)

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.

Photo 2

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!

2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Opportunities

mlk-photo

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is a nationally recognized day of service. ARMN welcomes members of the public to join master naturalists for various earth-friendly projects in the area to honor the spirit of Dr. King. Here is a list of habitat restoration and invasive removal activities both for the weekend prior to MLK Day as well as the official holiday, Monday January 16, 2017. We hope to see you at one or more of these events that will make a significant difference to the health of our local environment.

If there is any question about the weather, where to meet, what to bring, or any other concerns, please contact the leader ahead of time.

Day

Date Location Time Contact
Friday Jan 13 Marie Butler Leven Preserve, Fairfax County

 

1–3pm Matt Bright

RSVP/confirm

Saturday Jan 14 Nauck Woods, Arlington 10am–Noon Nora Palmatier RSVP/confirm
Saturday Jan 14 Fraser Preserve, Fairfax County Noon–3pm Margaret Chatham

RSVP/confirm

Saturday Jan 14 Madison Manor Park, Arlington 1–4pm Jo Allen
Saturday Jan 14 Gulf Branch Park, Arlington 2–4:30pm Jennifer Soles
Sunday Jan 15 Long Branch Park, Arlington 2–4pm Steve Young
Monday Jan 16 Culpepper Gardens, Arlington 10am–3pm Linda Y. Kelleher RSVP/confirm

 

Monday Jan 16 Nauck Woods, Arlington 10am–Noon Nora Palmatier RSVP/confirm

 

Monday Jan 16 Dora Kelley Nature Park, Alexandria (N. Morgan St. entrance near N. Beauregard St.) 10:15am–12:15pm And/OR

1–3pm

Mary Farrah

RSVP/confirm

Thank you!

Bird Mobs at Long Branch Nature Center

by Steve Young

ARMN member and Long Branch environmental steward Steve Young shares a mindful encounter with nature.

During a warm July morning, I found myself walking along the Long Branch Nature Center access road. Just east of Willow Pond, I began to hear a commotion among small birds. First to get my attention were the scolding alarm calls of Wood Thrushes—”Whip! Whip!” Then I began to notice other birds calling and in some cases flying around near the stream: Eastern Towhees, Common Grackles, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens, Blue Jays, and undoubtedly some others I either missed or have forgotten.

To me the uproar was almost a sure sign of the presence of some predator. Birds alert each other to a predator and often “mob” it. Interestingly, even though there are crows around and they tend to be very aggressive mobbers, I heard or saw none.

I slowly walked closer to the stream, toward the epicenter of the activity, expecting to see perhaps a ground-based predator like a domestic cat or a fox, maybe with a victim in its grasp, since that would amplify the upset of the birds. But I saw nothing. Barred Owl? I looked up in the trees, but saw no owl. Finally, about 15 feet above the stream, I spotted a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk perched motionless in a tree. This was the cause of the racket. As I got close, it flew to a new perch about 3 feet away from its previous one. As soon as it moved, two grackles dived at its head. There was no more direct mobbing, but the sonic uproar continued. I took several pictures and walked on.

Red-shouldered Hawk at Long Branch (upper right in tree)

Red-shouldered Hawk at Long Branch (upper right in tree)

Had I not focused on the message from the birds and realized they could tell me something, I would never have known the silent, motionless hawk was there. The more attention we pay to nature with our various senses, the more stories nature shares.

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.

It’s Spring! What a Great Time to Plant Natives!

Spring is such a wonderful time of year! With longer periods of daylight, warmer temperatures, and the return of birds and butterflies, we’re naturally drawn to the outdoors. If you’re also drawn to gardening––either in your yard or in pots on the deck or patio––consider installing native plants when you get ready to plant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Asclepias tuberosa ~ Butterflyweed

Why natives?

Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. They also are critical sources of nectar, pollen, and seeds that provide food for native butterflies, insects, birds, and other animals. In addition, native plants are advantageous, because they:

  • do not require fertilizers and need few if any pesticides,
  • need less water than lawns and help prevent erosion,
  • help reduce air pollution,
  • provide shelter and food for wildlife,
  • promote biodiversity and stewardship of our natural heritage, and
  • are beautiful and increase scenic values!

Which native plants are right for your yard or pots?

As with any plant, it’s important to install the right one for your conditions (wet, dry, shade, sun, slope, soil type, etc.). There are great sources of information to learn the right plant for your situation. One of the best is the Plant Nova Natives website: http://www.plantnovanatives.org/, which provides picture-filled, easy-to-follow information that will help you choose the perfect species for your situation. The website includes a colorful guide to local native species, information on where visit native gardens, and links to organizations that sell native plants and will come to your property and offer customized landscaping recommendations.

Pysostegia virginiana ~ Obedient Plant

Pysostegia virginiana ~ Obedient Plant

Where can you buy native plants?

Now that you know you want to natives, you may find that most regular nurseries do not carry them. No matter! The best selection and prices are often at spring native plant sales all around the area. Here are several in the upcoming weeks and months, so go forth and plant!

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, VA. All plants are $20. They may be picked up the Ford Nature Center Saturday, May 21 from 10 am – 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.

Saturday, April 2, 9:30 am – 2 pm, Friends of the National Arboretum Native Plant Sale, US National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave., NE, Washington, DC (open to Lahr Symposium registrants at 8:30 am), http://www.fona.org/lahr-symposium/.

Wednesday, April 6, 10 am – 1 pm (and first Wednesday of each month through October), VNPS First-Wednesday Plant Sales, at VNPS-Potowmack propagation beds behind the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens are open for sales. 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312, http://vnps.org/potowmack/.

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

Saturday, April 23, 9 am – 3 pm, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Morven Park, 17195 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg, VA 20176, 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, VA. For more information, call 703-324-1460; TTY 711. To view images of the seedlings, learn about these plants, and to place an order, visit the NVSWCD Web site 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, VA 22204. 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, Va. 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, VA. See http://www.earthsangha.org/wpn/wpn.html for plants and directions.

Saturday, May 7, 9 am – 12 pm, Prince William Wildflower Society Native Plant Sale, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church, 8712 Plantation Lane, Manassas, VA 20110 (Contact: Nvehrs1@yahoo.com).

Saturday, May 14, 9 am – 3 pm, Green Spring Garden Day. Sale includes native plant sales from VNPS-Potowmack propagation beds behind the Horticulture Center. There are both native and nonnative plant vendors on the lawn, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312, http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/downloads/quarterlyprogramguide.pdf.

2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Opportunities

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is a nationally recognized day of service. ARMN welcomes members of the public to join master naturalists for a number of earth-friendly projects to honor the spirit of Dr. King. Here is a list of activities both for the weekend prior to MLK Day as well as the official holiday, Monday January 18, 2016. We hope to see you at one or more of these events that will make a significant difference to the health of our local environment.

  • Culpepper Garden Invasive Plant Removal

Join neighbors and ARMN volunteers in bringing the grounds of Culpepper Garden back to a healthy natural state. Culpeper Garden is a model, nonprofit senior residential community in the heart of Arlington.

Times: 9:30 am – 12 pm and/or 12 – 2 pm, Monday, January 18

Location: 4435 North Pershing Drive, Arlington

Contact Pat Findikoglu (Patfindikoglu@gmail.com) or Caroline Haynes (chaynesarmn@gmail.com) if you plan to attend.

  • Arlington Habitat Restoration at Long Branch Nature Center 

Help out LBNC’s old growth forest by removing invasive exotic plants in and around it. The event is open to age 8 and up. No registration is required.

Time: 2 – 4 pm Monday, January 18

Location: Long Branch Nature Center Park, 625 S. Carlin Springs Rd., Arlington (Meet in parking lot.)

Contact Steve Young (frazmo@gmail.com), 703-966-2966, or Long Branch Nature Center, 703-228-6535 for information.

  • Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve Invasive Plant Removal

Join the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust and the Friends of Dyke Marsh to help remove invasive plants from beautiful Dyke Marsh.

Time: 10 am – 12:30 pm, Monday, January 18

Location: Meet in the South Parking Lot of the Belle Haven Picnic Area of Dyke Marsh. See the Friends of Dyke Marsh website for more information about the marsh and for directions (http://www.fodm.org/).

Contact: Daniel Saltzberg (dsaltzberg@nvct.org), 703-354-5093 by Monday, January 11.

Notes: Dress in layers and bring water, gloves, and clippers if you have them (if not, they will be provided).

  • Alternative Plant Removal Date for Madison Manor 

See details below for invasive plant pull at Madison Manor Park on Saturday, January 16. In case of inclement weather, the event will take place on January 18.

Can’t volunteer on MLK Day itself? Consider these other service opportunities on Saturday, January 16, of the holiday weekend:

  • Winter Tree ID and RiP Invasive Plant Pull at Tuckahoe Park, January 16 

ARMN member Mary McLean will conduct a winter tree identification and follow it with removal of invasive plants at Tuckahoe Park.

Time: 9 – 9:45 am (tree ID); 10 am – 12 pm (invasives pull), January 16

Location: Tuckahoe Park, 2400 North Sycamore St., Arlington

Contact: Mary McLean (marydmclean@verizon.net), 703-966-2047

  • Madison Manor Park Invasive Plant Removal, January 16 

Resume work on a beautiful park in need of additional attention.

Time: 2 – 4 pm, January 16

Location: Meet at the Madison Manor sign near 11th Road North, 12th Road North, and Ohio Street

Contact: Jo Allen, (jo.allen@comcast.net), 703-474-2671

Notes: Some tools will be available, but bring pruners, loppers, and work gloves if you have them. In case of inclement weather (below freezing, heavy rain, dangerous ice), meet instead from 2 – 4 pm. Monday, January 18, at the same intersection.

  • Fraser Preserve Barberry Plant Removal January 16 

Join ARMN volunteer Margaret Chatham who will lead two efforts to remove barberry plants from Fraser Preserve, a Nature Conservancy property in Great Falls.

Time: 12 – 3 pm, January 16.

Location: See details in “Contact,” below.

Contact Margaret Chatham (margaret.chatham@verizon.net) both to confirm your place in the day’s crew and where we’ll be meeting that day, which may be either at the entry to the preserve (park at the corner of Allenwood & Springvale Road) or at Camp Fraser (drive all the way to the north end of Springvale: take the hilly gravel portion of the road very slowly!)

Notes: Plan to remove any red berries from the plants (bags provided), then get the crowns out of the ground. Wear heavy leather gloves, in addition to dressing for the weather and being off trail in the woods. Bring a garden fork if you have one, water, and any snacks you’ll need. Work can progress with snow on the ground, but will be canceled if the ground is frozen or the weather is really nasty. If weather is questionable and you are uncertain about a cancellation, please call Margaret Chatham ONLY after 11AM on the day of the event at 703-785-8175. (Phone inoperative at other times.)

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!

Fall is a Great Time to Plant Trees and Perennials: Especially Natives!

by Kasha Helget

An avid native-plant gardener, ARMN communications chair Kasha Helget points you toward native plants and plant sales for your fall gardening needs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New England Aster in November

Autumn is one of the best times to install plants. You may ask, “Why? We may be able to enjoy them only for a couple of months, and they may not even bloom before winter.”

The reason is that conditions may be perfect to give a plant its best start so you can enjoy them for years to come. The soil is still warm, so the roots become established before the plant goes dormant. Cooler air temperatures do not stress the parts above the soil, so there is much less plant shock when you install them in your landscape. There are also many plants that bloom in the fall and have great winter interest. Best of all, you and your garden will have a jump on the spring season as the new plants emerge, ready to delight you all year.

Why are natives particularly attractive?

Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. They do not require the fertilizers and pesticides that lawns and many nonnative perennials do, and when installed in the right spot, will need less water and help prevent erosion. And they’re not just pretty; they do double duty as nectar, pollen, and seed sources for native butterflies, insects, birds, and other animals. Most nonnatives cannot make that claim.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Goldenrod in September

How can you know the right spot in your yard for plants?

While there always is some trial and error with any gardening, the Plant NoVA Natives website (http://www.plantnovanatives.org/) has made the process so much easier for everyone. Whether you’re an expert gardener or a beginner, the Plant NoVA Natives site provides detailed information and photos about plants local to Northern Virginia so you can choose native species that are suited to your property. The website includes a colorful guide to local natives, a list of local businesses that supply them, and links to organizations that will come to your property and offer customized landscaping recommendations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Obedient Plants in September

So, where can you get these great natives?

There a number of fall native plant sales around the area. Here are the dates and locations of those that provide reliable stock, and where you can receive guidance from sellers who know their plants well. Happy planting!

Wednesday, September 2, October 7, and November 4, 2015, 10 am to 1 pm, Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) Potowmack Chapter First Wednesday Sales, Green Spring Gardens Park, propagation beds behind the Horticulture Center, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA.

Saturday, September 12, 2015, 9 am to 3 pm, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Fall Native Plant Sale, Morven Park, 17263 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg, VA (http://www.loudounwildlife.org/Event_Native_Plant_Sale_Fall.html).

Saturday, September 19, 2015, 9 am to 3 pm, Green Spring Fall Garden Day, VNPS-Potowmack propagation beds behind the Horticulture Center, and some native-plant vendors mixed in with the nonnative vendors, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312 (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/events.htm).

Saturday, September 19, 2015, 1pm to 4pm, Long Branch Nature Center Native Plant Sale, 625 Carlin Springs Road, Arlington, VA (http://parks.arlingtonva.us/events/fall-native-plant-sale-2/).

Saturday, September 26, 2015, 9am to 2pm, Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale (formerly Parkfairfax Plant Sale), Church of St. Clement, 1701 N. Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA (http://home.earthlink.net/~sknudsen/).

Sunday, September 27, 2015, 10 am to 2 pm, Earth Sangha Open House and Plant Sale, Cloud Drive entrance to Franconia Park, Springfield, VA 22150. See http://www.earthsangha.org/wpn/wpn.html for plants and directions.

Preorder Plants for Pickup at the City of Alexandria Fall 2015 Tree & Shrub Sale. Place orders by September 27th for various native trees and shrubs for pickup on October 3 between 10am and 2pm at the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center, 5750 Sanger Ave, Alexandria, VA 22311. All plants are $20 each. See Fall2015AlexandriaTreeSale_Final for plant descriptions, ordering information, and contacts.

Application Period Now Open for ARMN Fall 2015 Training Class

Adults, standing in marsh, looking through binoculars at something

Picture yourself here!

Taking the ARMN basic training course changed my life. It opened up so many opportunities to meet great people, get outdoors, and educate the community about nature and its preservation.

                                                                 ~a current ARMN-certified master naturalist

Have a passion for nature? Want to learn how to channel that passion and share it with your community? Apply now to train as a certified master naturalist through ARMN’s 14-week Fall 2015 basic training class. No prior experience is necessary.

ARMN  will be holding daytime basic training beginning September 14 through December 14, 2015. Classes will be held on Mondays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington, and at other locations around the area. (There will be no class on October 12.) Classroom training generally will be scheduled for the mornings with field training to follow in the afternoons.

Apply by filling out the application available through the Apply tab above and returning it to Long Branch by mail or in person no later than August 17, 2015. Space in this popular course is limited, so act now.

Have a question? Ask it through the Contact Us portal above.