Articles, Initiatives and Program Updates 

January Stream Monitoring Events
Cold? Stream monitoring volunteers don't get cold! January has a whole slate of stream events to choose from, just make sure to dress for the weather!
-Saturday, January 6th, 1:30 - 4pm: Stream Monitoring Workshop, Chantilly
-Sunday, January 7th, Noon - 2:30pm: Prince William County Stream Monitoring Session, Haymarket
-Tuesday, January 9th, 1 - 4pm: Stream Monitoring Workshop, Reston
Audubon Naturalist Society Stream Classes
Our friends at the Audubon Naturalist Society offer a variety of classes at their Chevy Chase, MD sanctuary that are great accompaniments to the training you receive at our stream monitoring workshops. Do you wish to learn more about how to read the physical characteristics of a stream, such as bank erosion, stream velocity, and riparian vegetation? Would you like to bolster your ID skills and identify stream invertebrates to the family level? These topics and more are covered in ANS's numerous Stream Science Classes, running from late January through May.

2018 Native Seedling Sale: Plant List and Theme Announced! 
Hold on to your trowels - the native species included in the  NoVA Conservation District's 2018 seedling sale have been announced!! This year's species were all chosen for their deer tolerance. The Shrub and Small Tree Package ($16.95) will include two each of the following: Common Witch Hazel, Silky Dogwood, False Indigo Bush, Spicebush and Shadblow Serviceberry. The Tree Package ($11.95) will include two each of Eastern Redbud, Shortleaf Pine and Pawpaw. All species are Virginia natives and wildlife friendly! Online ordering will start February 1st, and seedling packages can be picked up at the Packard Center in Annandale on April 20th and 21st.

Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District's New Website
NoVa Conservation District's new website is up and running!  Stop on by to see what we've done with the place.

Apply Now for Spring 2018 Fairfax and Arlington Master Naturalists Training Classes
Make a New Year's resolution to join one of the most committed and knowledgeable groups of environmental volunteers around: Become a Master Naturalist! Both the Fairfax and Arlington Chapters are accepting applications for their spring 2018 training classes. Fairfax Chapter classes are held on Thursday evenings, 7-10pm, with four Saturday field trips. Arlington Chapter classes are held on Mondays from 9am - 3pm. Trainings are led by local experts and include such topics as wildlife, forestry, geology, ecology, botany, citizen science, and much more! Applications for either chapter are due by January 26th.

This Holiday Season, Think About......Trash?
Our friends at the Alice Ferguson Foundation - the group that organizes the spring Potomac River Watershed Cleanup - would like you to think about trash this holiday season. Lori Arguelles, the Foundation's president, has a thought provoking op-ed in the Washington Post about trash and its connection to our current "culture of convenience." Whether you agree or not, it's an interesting read about a serious environmental problem.

Is Your Yard a Food Desert?

As migrating birds head south along the Atlantic Flyway, what do they see when they look down on your yard: a food desert full of inedible turf grass and pavement; or a supermarket full of seeds, berries, fruits and nuts? An urbanized landscape can also be a nurturing landscape, as the fine folks at Plant Nova Natives will attest in their December article.

Cover Crops vs. Dead Zones
Agriculture is the largest contributor of nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, and excess nutrients increase the size and longevity of summer "dead zones," oxygen-depleted areas of water that don't support aquatic life. An article from National Geographic looks at farming practices - cover crops, stream buffers and more -  that can retain nutrients on the farm field while also improving soil quality and crop yields.

Manatees in the Chesapeake
Who would have thought that a warm-water-loving manatee would be spotted in the Chesapeake, but that's just who researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science saw off their dock this Halloween. While rare, it turns out that manatees are occasional visitors to our waters, and some think we may see them more due to climate change.
Seeking Funding for Your Conservation and Efficiency Projects?
The Conservation Assistance Program (CAP) can provide technical assistance and cost-share funds for stormwater projects on private or common land and energy efficiency upgrades to community property. For more information about CAP - including application deadlines, eligible projects and funding levels - please visit the program webpage.     

Remove Invasive Plants from Fairfax County's Natural Areas
Invasive invaders such as kudzu, wisteria and stilt grass are pushing out important native flora and diminishing the health of our parks. Help turn the tide against these exotic invaders by joining the Invasive Management Area (IMA) volunteers and pulling these weeds out by their roots. Several workdays are scheduled in January! The IMA calendar can be found online.
January Calendar of Events

Saturday, December 30th
Scott's Run to Turkey Run Hike
Time: 9am
Location: Scott's Run parking lot at Georgetown Pike and Swinks Mill Rd

Join the Sierra Club's Potomac Region Outings group for a 9-mile loop hike starting and ending at magnificent Scott's Run Nature Preserve, home to one of the rarest biological ecosystems in the mid-Atlantic. Winter's bare trees allow for great views of the Potomac River. For more information, visit the Potomac Region Outing's website.

chanSaturday, January 6th 
Stream Monitoring Workshop: Chantilly
Time: 1:30 - 4pm
Location: Big Rocky Run, Greenbriar Neighborhood

Help monitor Big Rocky Run as it flows through wooded parkland behind the backyards of the Greenbriar neighborhood. Spaces are very limited. Please RSVP to Dan Schwartz for directions and instructions. 

catSunday, January 7th
Stream Monitoring Session: Haymarket, Prince William County
Time: Noon - 2:30
Location: Catharpin Creek, James Long Park, Haymarket, VA

Join certified monitor Elaine Wilson of the Prince William Stream Monitoring Program as she performs the winter monitoring of her adopted site along Cathaprin Creek. Please RSVP to Elaine for directions. Spaces are limited!

resTuesday, January 9th
Stream Monitoring Workshop: Reston
Time: 1 - 4pm
Location: Snakeden Branch at the Walker Nature Center, Reston

Join the Reston Association and help monitor Snakeden Branch on the forested grounds of the Walker Nature Center, just before it flows into Lake Audubon. Please complete a Reston Volunteer Application and sign up through the event calendar, or contact Will Peterson for more information.

Wednesday, January 10
Fairfax County Public Hearing on the Environment
Time: 7:30pm
Location: Fairfax County Government Center, Conference Rooms 9-10, 12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax, VA

The Environmental Quality Advisory Council invites all interested citizens to share their views and concerns on the state of the County's environment. Written, verbal or video testimony is encouraged. To be placed on the speakers list or for additional information, call the Dept. of Planning and Zoning at 703-324-1380 (TTY 711) or send an e-mail message (and/or submit written testimony) to For video testimony, upload to YouTube, Vimeo, or UStream and email the URL to EQAC by 5pm on January 3.

Thursday, January 11th
School Age Green Educators Happy Hour
Time: 5 - 7pm
Location: Oh George! 10659 Braddock Rd, Fairfax, 22032

Join NoVA Outside's School Age Green Educator's group and swap conversation, program ideas and more with your fellow formal and informal K-12 outdoor educators. More about the group and their monthly meet-ups can be found on the NoVA Outside website.

Thursday, January 11th
Native Plant Interactions Above and Below Ground: The Relationships Between Plants, Fungi, Bacteria and Insects
Time: 7:30 - 9pm
Location: Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Rd, Alexandria, 22312

Kick of the Plant NoVA Natives Campaign's 2018 lecture series with a talk by naturalist and ecologist Charles Smith. The interactions between plant communities creates the visible framework of our natural world, but this is underlain by the web of relationships between plants, insect larvae, lesser-known pollinators and bacterial and fungal allies. These relationships are interconnected and only beginning to be understood.

Saturday, January 13th
91st Green Breakfast: Salt Management Strategies in Northern Virginia
Time: 8:30am
Location: Brion's Grille, 10621 Braddock Rd, Fairfax, VA 22032

Safe travel conditions during winter is paramount, and road salt is a familiar technique to melt snow and ice from roadways. However, high chloride levels persist throughout the year and negatively impact our stream health. Enjoy a hot buffet breakfast while listening to Will Isenberg of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality discuss the multi-year effort to develop a Salt Management Strategy (SaMS) for our region, with the goal of more efficiently and effectively applying salts while reducing concentrations of chlorides in local waterbodies.  The strategy is stakeholder-driven and seeks public input. $10 at the door, cash preferred. No need to RSVP. Can't make the breakfast but want to participate in the discussion? Another public meeting on the strategy will be held at Arlington Central Library on Jan. 17th at 6:30pm.

Saturday, January 13th
Cub Run Litter Workshop and Needs Assessment
Time: 1 - 4pm
Location: Centreville Library, Meeting Rooms 1 & 2

Presented by the Clean Fairfax Council and the Cub Run Stream Valley Park Volunteer Team, this workshop will help communities in the Cub Run watershed (Centreville, Chantilly, Westfields, Dulles, Sully Station, Fair Lakes, etc) identify sources of pollution flowing into the stream and lead them in group exercises designed to mitigate those effects.  The last hour will be spent listening to attendees to better understand the character of Cub Run Park and what can be done to make it better. A needs assessment will be performed to help  prioritize finite volunteer resources. More information and registration is available on the Cub Run Park Volunteer Team's Facebook page.

Saturday, January 13th
Astronomy Festival
Time: 4 - 7pm
Location: The Turner Farm, 925 Springvale Rd, Great Falls, 22066

Enjoy guided star gazing, look through a telescope, and listen to constellation stories around the campfire at Observatory Park at Turner Farm. $10 per person, ages 3 and up. Please register online or for more information, call 703-324-8618.

Saturday, January 13th and Monday, January 15th
MLK Day of Service: Cleanup Events
Times and locations:
-Jan 13, 10am, Jones Point Park, Alexandria, VA
        -Jan 15, 10am, Barcroft Park, Arlington

Participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service by helping the Potomac Conservancy clean the Potomac at Jones Point Park on the 13th or Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment clean Four Mile Run and Barcroft Park on the 15th.

Sunday, January 14th
A Sand County Almanac Read-a-Thon
Time: 5 - 7pm
Location: Busboys and Poets - Shirlington, 4251 South Campbell Ave, Arlington

The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is sponsoring a Read-a-Thon of Aldo Leopold's beloved A Sand County Almanac to celebrate Leopold's 131st birthday. Table service will be available from the restaurant's menu. All are welcome, but please contact Daniel Saltzberg in advance if you would like to be a reader.

Wednesday, January 17th or Tuesday, January 30th
Landscape Design Basics: The DIY Sustainable Yard
Time: 7 - 8:30pm
Location: Jan 17 - Beatley Central Library, 5005 Duke St, Alexandria
               Jan 30 - Westover Library, 1644 N. McKinley Rd, Arlington

Learn how to create a sustainable landscape by building on the unique conditions of your property. The workshop will walk you through the creation of a base map and the simple design principles you can use to transform your yard. Presented by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free, but please register online.

Sunday, January 21st
Winter Birds and Feeder Workshop
Time: Noon - 2pm
Location: Huntley Meadows Park, 3701 Lockheed Blvd, Alexandria

Learn about the resilient birds that call Huntley Meadows Park and your backyard home during winter. Make your own pine cone bird feeder to take home and watch as your new friends visit. Learn how to identify winter birds through calls, games and activities. Ages 4 and up, $10/person. Children must be accompanied by a registerd adult. Please register online or call 7 03-768-2525 for more information.

Monday, January 22nd
Lake Accotink Park Master Plan: Community Meeting
Time: 7 - 8:30pm
Location: North Springfield Elementary, 7602 Heming Ct, Springfield

The Fairfax County Park Authority will host a community meeting to continue to gain public input towards developing a vision for the future of Lake Accotink Park. This meeting will focus on management of the lake and a few key design ideas, with special emphasis on the important issue of sediment control. The Lake Accotink Sustainability Plan and summaries of information from previous community meetings can be found online. Please contact project manager Gayle Hooper with additional questions: 703--324-8741.

Thursday, January 25th, Saturday, January 27th or Saturday, February 3rd
Grasses for the Masses Workshop
Times and locations:
-Jan 25th, 7:15 - 8:15pm; Jan 27th, 9 - 10:30am, both at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St, Room 118, Arlington, VA
-Feb 3rd: 10:30am - 12:30pm, NoVA Community College, Bisdorf Bldg, Room AA-158, 5000 Dawes Ave, Alexandria, VA

Grasses for the Masses participants receive a simple kit and instructions to grow native aquatic grasses indoors during the winter, and plant them in the Potomac at Mason Neck Park in the spring. The grasses filter nutrients and provide important habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures. $40 registration fee covers part of the cost of the kit and includes a one-year membership to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Register now before spaces fill up!

Saturday, January 27th
Tree ID: Bark and Buds
Time: 1 - 2:30pm
Location: Riverbend Park, 8700 Potomac Hills St, Great Falls, 22066

How do you ID a tree when the leaves and fruit are gone? Let Riverbend naturalists help you flex your tree ID muscles by learning the bark and bud patterns of our local tree species. $10/person, ages 14 and up. Please register online or call 703-759-9018 for more information.
Sunday, January 28th
The Humane Gardener: Green Spring's Winter Lecture Series
Time: 1:30pm
Location: Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Rd, Alexandria, 22312

Author Nancy Lawson describes why and how you should welcome wildlife to your backyard and discusses planting for wildlife, providing habitats that shelter baby animals, creating gardens free of poisons and hazards, cohabiting with pests, letting nature be your garden designer, and welcoming natural processes and seasonal changes. $10/person, adults only. Please register online.

Monday, January 29th
Vegetable Gardening Part 1: Seed Selection, Starting and Saving
Times and Locations:
-Jan 25th, 7-8:30pm, Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Rd, Alexandria
-Jan 27th, 10:30 - Noon, Westover Library, 1644 N. McKinley Rd, Arlington

Start your garden early this year by getting the scoop on seed selection, hybrid vs. heirloom, what seeds to start indoors, germination tips, and best bets for seed saving. Find out how to make your own starter pots and easy-to-create lighting systems to bring the sunlight inside. Presented by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free, but please register in advance.

Tuesday, January 30th - Wednesday, January 31st
Introductory Data Interpretation Workshop
Time: 9am - 5pm
Location: Woodend Sanctuary, 8940 Jones Mill Rd, Chevy Chase, MD

The Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative and Audubon Naturalist Society are sponsoring this two-day workshop to help citizen scientists understand and effectively communicate the data they collect. Participants will be introduced to basic data interpretation techniques; create their own science communication products; and gain experience using Microsoft Excel, a scientific graphics library, Microsoft Powerpoint, and Adobe Illustrator. Led by the University of Maryland's Integration and Application Network, this is a great opportunity for stream monitors or any other citizen scientist who wants to share their data with the public. Free, but please register.

February Sneak Peak

Saturday, February 10th
Homeowner Rain Garden Workshop
Time: 9:30am - Noon
Location: Providence Community Center, 3001 Vaden Dr, Fairfax, VA
Learn how to properly locate, design, construct and maintain a small-scale rain garden--a landscaped area that is designed to capture rain water and allow it to soak into the ground. Rain gardens allow polluted runoff from roads and buildings to percolate through the soil, slowing its flow and preventing pollutants from reaching local streams and the Potomac River.  Free, but registration is required.  Please RSVP to

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