Citizens Monitor for Sewage Pollution in Local Streams

By: Alecia Donaldson

On October 25th, Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) had the pleasure of hosting our first Citizen Monitoring event in the Wells Run and Sligo Creek subwatersheds of the Anacostia River. AWS, the Center for Watershed Protection (CWP), and the Friends of Sligo Creek (FOSC) joined forces to educate volunteers on the impacts of illicit sewage discharge on our streams and train them to help detect and report these occurrences.

What is Illicit Discharge?

Hooray for our Earth!


Anacostia River seen from Bladensburg Waterfront Park.

The Effect of AWS' Meadow Restoration on Bee Populations

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).

Building a Trail -- AWS Says Thanks!!

This past Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving), scout Taylor LaChance joined us to complete her Venturing Ranger Award.

Venturing is a program of the Boy Scouts of America that engages youth (both young men and young women) between the ages of 14 and 21. The Ranger Award is very similar to the Eagle Scout Award for those who are familiar. More info about venturing can be found by clicking here.

To recieve the award, scouts must complete a project in their communities. Taylor, a long-time resident in the area, approached us about completing her project with AWS. We were delighted.

For the last two years, AWS has been working to restore a fringe wetland along the Anacostia River, adjacent to the Fort Lincoln Cemetery. In order to access the wetland area, we have had to navigate through a thick patch of woods along the east side of the cemetery. This has not been easy, particularly in the heat of the summer with large groups and lots of supplies!

October Seeds Bring Spring Plants

The past couple of weeks were busy ones for the Education team. We took advantage of the gorgeous fall weather by being outside practically every day with both students and adult volunteers. A good portion of our time was spent collecting various seeds as the plants matured, dried, and began to drop their fruits at the cold's approach.

Students collect Partridge Pea Seeds at ANA 11

All of the seeds we collected fall into two categories, wetland plants and meadow plants, and have differing modes of collection.

Meadow Plants

River Herring and Shad

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.

Reptiles from the Late Triassic

By Amanda Simms

Turtles Basking on the Anacostia

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.

How not to be a “TREE KILLER!”

By Chase Bergeson, AWS Stewardship intern

The other day, I helped to lead a group of elementary schoolers on a field trip to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Northeast DC. Out in the mud some of the kids seems a little dubious about planting wild rice and were mostly worried about getting dirty. I wasn't thinking that we had a new group of environmentalists under our wing, but apparently they took their educational experience to heart. Upon passing a maintenance man pruning some trees along the trail, the kids began to shout: "Stop that!" "You’re hurting it." "Leave that tree alone!" "TREE KILLER!" I was astonished to learn that we had some tree huggers all along.

And while their hearts were in the right place, their shouts were uncalled for. The man was actually helping the trees. If you want to make sure that you don’t have a group of 40 ten-year-olds coming after you (they can be pretty scary when they want to be!), then keep reading for some tips about properly taking care of your trees!

Partnering to Teach Kids About the River

AWS has been fortunate to partner with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and FedEx to expand our environmental education program and give DC schoolchildren hands-on experiences in helping to restore the river and understand their environment. NFWF and FedEx recently created a video showcasing this work. Check it out!

Is It Summer Already?

The saying goes "April showers bring May flowers," not "April droughts bring May sprouts." This spring, we are experiencing some interesting weather that is making our work a little more strenuous: the combination of rising temperatures and little to no precipitation is testing the endurance of our plants and of our watershed overall.

First, as I've mentioned before when talking about our wetland plant nursery, the early rise in temperatures has had an interesting effect on our work. There have been some nice impacts of this trend, such as seeds germinating and trees budding early, but the early jump leaves a few concerns on our minds.

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