Anacostia Watershed Blog

A Meadow Under Construction

We are absolutely thrilled about our work at the Anacostia Riparian Meadow Restoration (ARMR) project site!  Today we finished the seed sowing after an intensive site preparation season, which would have not been possible without the help of our volunteers and interns.  By the way, our Summer Stewardship Intern Team just got started with us this week and we'll talk more about them soon.

Flower of the Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa).

2011 is the International Year of Forests

Thirty one percent of the earth's land surface is carpeted with forests.  From the mighty Alaskan boreal forests and the lush Neotropical rainforests of Central and South America to the local temperate deciduous forests of the Anacostia Watershed, one thing is for sure: forests are not optional. Forests have a paramount role in the world's environmental health and our livelihoods.  They provide an irreplaceable suite of ecosystem services, some of them highly valued by the society whereas others have been overly taken for granted because they lack a formal market.  That's why the United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all the world's forests.

Vernal Pool Season

Vernal pools, like the one pictured above in the upper part of the Anacostia River Watershed, are vital breeding habitat for Spotted salamanders, Jefferson Salamanders, wood frogs, fairy shrimp and other species. 

Vernal pools, also called seasonal pools, are extremely dynamic temporary wetlands that consist of ephemeral pools of water where fish are normally absent.  Vernal pools fill with stormwater, surface runoff, snowmelt, and groundwater in the fall, winter, or spring and may be completely dry by the summer.  They provide important breeding habitat for rare and threatened amphibians (e.g. mole salamanders), unique invertebrate communities, plants, and habitat to other wildlife species such as turtles, snakes, birds and mammals.  Vernal pools are important elements of the landscape and its continuum of woodlands and wetlands, they provide very important habitat for aquatic-dependent species.

2011 Internship Positions Have Been Filled

After reviewing nearly 20 resumes and conducting 11 interviews we had to make some tough decisions to narrow the list down to five Stewardship Interns, and we are still in the process of selecting two more interns from the applicants we already have.  That will completely fill up our Stewardship intern capacity for the upcoming summer.  Thanks very much to all the applicants for your interest in AWS and the stewardship work we do to clean and restore the Anacostia River.  We will introduce you to all our amazing 2011 Stewardship Interns soon! 

Maryland Invasive Plant Bill Set to Become Law

The invasive plant bill (HB 831) we have worked on for the last two years has now passed both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.  The bill was sponsored by 19 Delegates and was passed unanimously in the State Senate yesterday, 46-0!  AWS staff is thrilled to see this bill passed since we brought back the conversation to the table at the Maryland Invasive Species Council (MISC) two years ago.  At that time we came up with a proposed bill we crafted with the valuable help of one of our best interns ever: Leena Chapagain.  Thanks you so much, Leena!  Almost at the same time another bill was being proposed by a lawyer from Baltimore and his visionary school-age son!  Consensually AWS decided to sit down with all the stakeholders and craft a new bill, that's the HB 831.

What's that triangular purple box hanging in trees?

It's all about EAB, or Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), a ruthless insect invader from eastern Russia, northern China, Japan, and Korea.  How did it get here?  It's not clearly known, but it is likely that it came in ash wood used for stabilizing cargo in ships or for crating consumer products. 

Recently, an EAB trap was put in an ash tree across the street from our offices at the Old Port park.

Native plants for bees

Our gardens at the George Washington House have a nice variety of native plants that attract tons of pollinators every year.  Our two rain gardens, which have been working succesfully, have more than 20 species of native plants, plus our other sections of the yard around our Eastern white pine, the pond, and, last year we started an amazing produce garden beside the house.  The edible garden was tremendously productive last year; most of the staff had to take home plenty of Chinese eggplants, patty pan squashes, peppers, basil leaves, and tomatoes over the summer.  Its proximity to our rain gardens meant that a lot of the pollinators visiting our native wildflowers could stop by our produce plants and pollinate them.

Joe Pye weeds and Cardinal flowers, both native plant species, at one of our raingardens after a heavy storm in August 2010.

Fall seed collection hopes to ramp up our revegetation operations next year

By: Joseph Hager, AWS Stewardship Intern

It’s been a productive seed collection season! Fall is the time of year when many trees and plants produce a bounty of seeds in an effort to maintain and expand their presence in the ecosystem. The seeds vary greatly among the species, from large acorns to tiny seeds that can be carried off in the wind. While each species has developed unique mechanisms to help the spread of its seed, these traits are sometimes still not enough in the face of invasive species, their natural (native) enemies, and an environment plagued with man-induced stressors. Acorns face consumption by abundant populations of deer and squirrels, impervious surfaces where they cannot grow, cars and foot traffic that crush the seed and a wide array of threatening diseases and fungi. Later on, seedlings face competition from larger and more aggressive invasive plants, more deer, and so forth.