As spring arrives and the accompanying rains begin to fall, our attention might be drawn to all the water flowing over the impervious surfaces and into the storm drains surrounding us near our homes, offices, and everywhere else we look. The storm drains are not much to look at in most places -- but my capstone project, which I am undertaking as part of my position as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps volunteer, seeks to change that in the city of Mt. Rainier, MD.
I first heard of storm drain paintings when I was an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. Colorful patterns and designs started popping up all over the storm drains in downtown Lexington but, beyond a simple artist’s mark, there was no indication of what the project was about.
One of the artistic storm drains in Lexington, KY (Lexington Street Sweeper)
Anacostia River seen from Bladensburg Waterfront Park.
When you hear about pine barrens you think about New Jersey, but we actually have pine barrens here in the Anacostia watershed! An excellent description of this and other ecosystems present in the watershed can be found in the journal of the Maryland Native Plant Society, Marilandica. For more information click on this link and scroll down to the Spring 2008 issue of the journal and you will find the article entitled "Conservation Priorities and Selected Natural Communities of the Upper Anacostia Watershed" by Simmons et al.
The 225-acre Greenbelt Forest Preserve was officially established in 2003 after many years of struggles by a local group of residents of Greenbelt to preserve this important forests located right north of the beltway.
Pepco Benning Road Power Plant
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).
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.
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