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).
A recent Clean Water Act case in northern Virginia has been capturing attention because it deals with the regulation of stormwater pollution. The case, Virginia Department of Transportation versus Environmental Protection Agency (PDF), is broken down nicely by AWS colleague Jon Devine of the Natural Resources Defense Council on their Switchboard blog:
At its core, the decision said that the Environmental Protection Agency couldn’t use stormwater volume as a proxy for sediment pollution when developing a cleanup target (known in Clean Water Act jargon as a “total maximum daily load” or “TMDL”) for Accotink Creek, a tributary to the Potomac River.
I guess a better question would be: are you AWARE of the state of the Anacostia River tidal wetlands? From being considered "malarial swamps" in the early 20th century the Anacostia wetlands have a (relatively) better connotation in people's minds; however, there is still a lot of work to do to restore them and to show people their value.
Contrary to common belief, there are a lot of fish in the Anacostia River! In the whole watershed there are about 61 species of fish, 11 of which are nonnative species. The main stem of the River seems to have healthy populations of many common fish species including the recent Asian invader the Northern snakehead, also known as "Frankenfish." Now, these are not fish you would like to be frying for your family dinner, particularly the bottom feeders. Unfortunately eating these fish is a rather common practice for many angler's that fish in the Anacostia River according to a recent study we have commissioned with other partners, available here.
This year, the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) has been listed as one of the greater Washington, DC area’s best small non-profits by the Catalogue for Philanthropy.
Compiled and printed yearly, the Catalogue has been awarding local charities their seal of approval since 2003. Catalogue staff and reviewers from foundations, corporate giving programs, and other notable places do significant and rigorous research on various small and local non-profits. From a pool of over 250 applicants each year, they choose roughly 70 that are truly exemplary in their impact. Their choices are then compiled into an easily accessible guide, making your choice of giving simple!
AWS has been a member of the Catalogue family since 2006, and has been featured in the print catalogue three times, including the most current 2012-2013 version.
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.
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!
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
The AWS education team has been keeping busy this fall working with area students and volunteers to improve the biodiversity within the watershed. Saving Our Native Grasslands (SONG) is a new program we have created to bolster the efforts of our stewardship team in their work on the Anacostia Riparian Meadow Restoration project (ARMR).
As a busy fall winds down at the Anacostia Watershed Society, we are looking ahead toward an exciting new year!
Beginning this winter, AWS will recruit and train individuals like you to help us lead our recreation, education, and restoration events.
These longer-term volunteer opportunities are the first of its kind for AWS! We are very excited have the opportunity to work with dedicated community members who wish to be a part of our effort to engage and educate the public in the protection and restoration of the Anacostia River.
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