By Bradley Kennedy
Nash Run is one of the dirtiest streams in the Anacostia River watershed. However, thanks to D.C’s 5-cent disposable bag fee, one major source of pollution is finally on the decline.
“Astronomical levels of trash” and “dirtiest of all streams” -- these are phrases used to describe the humble little Nash Run, a small tributary of the Anacostia River. Nash Run starts in Fairmount Heights, MD, and runs through the Deanwood neighborhood of DC before emptying into the Anacostia near the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. It is one of the biggest contributors of the litter pollution impairing the Anacostia River. But a study on this stream over the past 4 years offers hope that the litter problem can be reversed.
By Emily Morrow and Jason Martin
As someone who used to get stung at least once every summer throughout my childhood, I’ve never been the biggest fan of bees. But after interning at AWS my opinion may have been altered, I’ve learned about the benefits of bees and the work AWS is doing in order to promote and increase bee species.
Despite the bad press bees get, they’re actually more of a benefit than a nuisance. Bees are important pollinators for our plants and, without them, researchers suspect that one-third of our agricultural crops could fail (Baker). Without bees, many of our flowering plants could not produce the important fruits, vegetables, and nuts that we rely on for food (Smith). Almost 100 types of crops require pollination by honeybees and, economically speaking, researchers estimate that the economic value of work done by bees is $215 billion worldwide and $14 billion in the United States alone (Cox-Foster).
By Alex Galbreath, AWS Fall Stewardship Intern
AWS is in the process of constructing a bioretention area and installing permeable pavement at its headquarters, the George Washington House. The project is part of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. The aim of the project here at the GW house is to reduce runoff and erosion while capturing rainwater for irrigation purposes.
By Daniel Braunstein, Stewardship Intern
In the aftermath of any hurricane there is discussion about what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be improved. One of the frequent topics of discussion is levees and how well they worked, and how best to improve them to prevent future flooding. Increasingly however the conventional wisdom of rebuilding levees is being questioned.
A levee along the Northeast Branch
By Mathew D'Alessio
Shad and river herring are "anadromous" fish which means that they spend majority of their lives in the ocean, and only return to freshwater in the spring to spawn. Traditionally, these fish spawned in almost every river and tributary along the East Coast.
By Amanda Simms
I’m not talking about dinosaurs; I’m talking about turtles. It may surprise you to know the turtles existed when the last of dinosaurs were evolving in the late Triassic period, about 230 million years ago. Turtles can be found all over the world and there are approximately 300 species living today.
In the Anacostia watershed, we have 19 species of turtles. The most common in suburban areas (your backyard) is the box turtle. In coastal plain areas musk and mud turtles are most common. In different types of water, from freshwater to brackish (a mix of salt and fresh water) we see more snapping turtles. And in larger bodies of water like the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, sea turtles lurk.
By Emily Haynes, Stewardship Intern
One of the most common species we plant in our wetland planting events is wild rice, and people often ask us if it’s edible. While unfortunately today the river is too polluted for us to eat anything that lives or grows in it, the Anacostia once supported much of the Nacotchtank Indians’ diet.
Wild rice was a staple of this diet, growing along the riverbanks in the twisting wetlands that flanked the Anacostia before it was straightened and its wetlands replaced by levees, seawalls, and berms. In our work recreating these lost wetlands, we at AWS always make sure to plant plenty of wild rice, as it was once quite populous here. Wild rice is a grassy, aquatic plant distinguished by its narrow, light-green leaves that can sometimes grow up to seven feet tall. Look out at the river today and you’ll see it flowering, showing off its beautiful greenish-yellow flowers.
By Jason Martin, Stewardship Intern
When most people think about global warming or climate change they think of rising sea levels and temperatures. This gets people’s minds on better A/C units and selling beachfront properties but most don’t think about how rising temperatures could affect their dinner plate. Seventy percent of the commercially grown crops are pollinated by bees. Some crops such as tomatoes, squash, and blueberries depend on a specific species or group of bees to pollinate them. Any change in these relationships could have negative economic consequences for growers.
By Jason Martin, Stewardship Intern
When most of us think about bees we think of a honey bee or bumblebee. While both of these bees are remarkable and important in their own way we also need to give credit to the other 3,998 species of bees in North America.
The honey bee is not native to the United States. It was imported here from Europe around 400 years ago by the first colonists. So, the honey bee, even though it does a great job of pollinating, hasn’t evolved with the native North American crops like the other 3,999 native species have. This co-evolution has led to numerous specialized relationships between native bees and native plants. Believe it or not there are some native plants in America that honey bees cannot or very inefficiently pollinate. Tomato, eggplant, squash, and blueberries are just a few crops that need native bees to pollinate them.
By Michael Schramm, Stewardship Intern
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that it is likely that a current 1-in-20-year annual maximum daily precipitation amount will become a 1-in-5 to a 1-in-15-year event by the end of the 21st century. The Mid-Atlantic region is anticipated to face less frequent but more intense precipitation events as a result of increased air temperatures, which in turn increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. We can expect longer dry periods, with more intense and extreme rainfall between those dry periods by the end of this century.