Anacostia River seen from Bladensburg Waterfront Park.
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).
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!
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.
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 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!
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!
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.
This past Saturday, more than 70 volunteers of all ages joined AWS staff and interns to plant trees on the hillside surrounding the Bladensburg Wetlands!
Many thanks to the wonderful volunteers pictured below, as well the others who have joined us in the last two weeks! As a direct result of their hard work, we have planted more than 100 of the 900 trees planned for this location.
We still need your help! Tree plantings with AWS are scheduled for every Saturday in April! Click here to visit the calendar to sign up, or call our Volunteer Coordinator at 301-699-6204 ext. 109.
See you there!
Austin (AWS intern) helps two volunteers break up soil that has been compacted over the years, giving roots room to grow!
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