Ongoing projects & events :
Energized by Earth Sangha coffee, the rain failed to dampen efforts by seven volunteers for a successful invasive pull on Satuday, 2/23/13. In addition to removing invasives, volunteers gathered several bags of recyclables. The county’s invasive plant coordinator, Sarah Archer, came out to help us identify more plants as well as to strategize on plans for future pulls. Sarah complimented the group on the progress made thus far in removing invasives, particularly English ivy, which, although still present, has been significantly reduced. The invasive threats Sarah depressingly identified for us included cherry trees, White mulberry, and Himalayan blackberry, which Sarah spotted in the meadow.
The Environmental Resources Committee recently completed a StormwaterWise project on the severely eroded bank of the lower ravine at S. Edgewood Street. Eighteen volunteers donated their labor or lent their vehicles: Lori Bowes, Jerry Cowden, Bart Holcomb, Ruth Gibbons, Clare Hayden, Eric Kaiser, Takis Karantonis, Janette Mason, Jonathan McIntire, Amanda McNally, Ed Miltenberger, Rodney Olsen, Leigh Pickering, Leah Pellegrino, David Terry, Audrey Sugar, Lela Vega, and Will Morrison. These volunteers contributed hundreds of hours of labor, with Arlington County providing a small matching grant for materials, so Arlington Village had only a small expenditure for the project. Leigh Pickering was especially helpful by providing design expertise.
A series of four terraces with 24 different native plant species is the result. Evergreen plants, including Eastern woodland sedge, Christmas fern, and Golden ragwort make up the first two terraces. Herbaceous wildflowers, including Virginia bluebells, will bloom in the third terrace. Virginia sweetspire and Wild hydrangea are the presiding shrubs in the fourth terrace along the fence. The plants protect the soil, breaking the energy of the rain. Smaller, gentler raindrops result in more water absorption and less erosion. The plants absorb water and slow its movement, and their roots hold the soil in place. With the terraces mostly installed prior to Hurricane Sandy, no erosion occurred following the storm.
The StormwaterWise project plan was sketched by a local landscape architect, Leigh Pickering. Rodney Olsen, ERC Chair, directed and worked with volunteers, who gathered logs from the ravine to build the terraces, using steel rebar stakes to secure them. Small stones were placed to seal gaps in front of the logs, holding soil on the bank. Volunteers hauled in topsoil enriched with fine leaf mulch to augment the largely clay soil along the stream. Then they installed the plants and layered fine leaf mulch on top to protect the plants and absorb water. The StormwaterWise project will enable us to conserve our vital soil and water resources and help keep the stream and the Chesapeake Bay clean. The project uses native plants that support our local fauna and will provide lovely color and greenery throughout the year. Please view the new native plant terraces as you walk north of the ravine at S. Edgewood Street.
Following the adage that good news is never old news, the Environmental Resources Committee of Arlington Village (ERC) would like to acknowledge and give belated thanks for the aid we received this past March 4 from Earth Sangha, Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, Arlington Village residents, and others in our invasive removal event in the Arlington Village Ravine. Among the most notable “others” were the more than twenty students and advisors from Dalton State College in Dalton, Georgia. We thank Lisa Bright of Earth Sangha for putting us in touch with these willing workers. Dalton State College is on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest, which comprises 750,502 acres and is predominantly oak-pine and oak-hickory broadleaf forest. We are so grateful that the students helped to clear invasive plants from our five-acre oak-hickory ravine as a part of their volunteer service in the Washington, D. C. area during their spring break. With their help, we removed many square yards of English ivy and Winter creeper from the ravine. The beneficial results of this effort is now visible as native plants—especially woody understory plants such as Spice bush and Arrowwood viburnum—are flourishing in what was once an invasive wasteland. Please see the slideshow below that highlights the efforts of our Georgia friends.
When working in the meadow, it’s helpful to be able to identify these three. Here’s a brief snapshot. Of the three, the Virginia cutgrass is the one we want to leave. It often grows intermingled amongst the stilt grass.
|Japanese Stilt Grass Microstegium vimineum||Virginia cutgrass or whitegrass Leersia virginica||Smartweed Polygonum persicaria|
|Silver strip along midrib||Lacks silver stripe||A non-grass look-alike that can form masses of grass-like plants, but its leaves have a dark blotch. Flowers are pink and bead-like.|
|Flowers mid-September||Flower spikes appear in August|
|Smooth nodes||Hairy nodes|
|Grass turns yellow to pale purple in fall||Remains green|
Volunteers in Arlington Village’s meadow (a part of the ravine) were treated to a sighting of an Eastern box turtle Terrapene carolina carolina on a June morning. Turtles are seen here occasionally and serve as a rewarding reminder of the value of this habitat where residents were removing Japanese stiltgrass and fescue. Also called the “dry-land terrapin,” Eastern box turtles are the most common species of turtle in Arlington. They were reportedly used both for food and for the fabrication of rattles by indigenous Native Americans in earlier centuries.
S/he was around three to four inches in length. Could this be an Eastern box turtle? Anyone know?
Updates: 1) The wrong photo (of a wood turtle) was posted initially. 2) A local herpetologist has confirmed that the turtle appears to be a young Eastern box turtle.
An article in the New York Times highlights a book offering another use for our Japanese knotweed and other plants.
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