County owned parcel of forested land at eastern corner of Walter Reed Dr. and the W&OD Trail
This forested parcel of land owned by Arlington County is being considered for relocation of the Phoenix Bikes Program and so it was inventoried by members of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists and TreeStewards to determine the benefits from the trees and impact of tree loss if a building replaced the trees. The wooded parcel of land (about an acre) is located along the Washington and Old Dominion Trail (W&OD Trail) at the intersection of South Four Mile Run Drive and Walter Reed Drive (eastern side of intersection).
A tree inventory is an important scientific, technical, and educational tool. Fieldwork for this tree inventory was initiated December 27, 2013, and completed December 31, 2013. This tree inventory identified the species and diameter of each tree 2 inches or greater in diameter. Tree diameter is usually measured at 4.5 feet (137 cm) above ground level. Measurement at this height is referred to as diameter at breast height or DBH. The volunteer team measured over 200 trees with a DBH of 2 inches or greater. The results show that this parcel of land contains:
• Over 170 trees that are native tree species.
• High species diversity with almost 30 different tree species including: American elm, ash (white and green), black gum, black locust, eastern red cedar, northern red oak, pin oak, red maple, scarlet oak, southern red oak, sweet gum, sycamore, and black cherry.
• More than 120 trees with DBH’s greater than 6 inches.
• Five trees of impressive size and shape: three native oaks, one native ash, and one native sweetgum between 30 and 40 inches DBH.
Although the footprint of the building and parking lot is undecided, over 70 trees could be lost, and clearing this land would endanger the health and stability of trees in the adjacent uncleared woodland. Estimates derived from the Tree Benefits Calculator indicate that Arlington County would lose the ability to collect almost 68,000 gallons of stormwater along with mitigation of air, noise, and visual pollution and urban cooling effect if these trees were removed
The outer rim of invasive vines on this site hides a forest community that reminds naturalists of the resilience of nature despite all circumstances. During the tree survey, our team spent time watching birds and hawks, guessing what was burrowing under decaying logs, imagining the array of spring wildflowers set to pop out this spring, and forecasting the bouquet of brilliant fall color the diverse species boast. Despite this parcel’s small size, it hosts an intact forest ecosystem that is remarkably beautiful and vibrant; it is an urban gem.
More than 30 Sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua) were counted, an unusual number for Arlington.
Performing a tree census is generally the best first step for advocates. Now that volunteers have provided detailed information on what would be lost due to development, other citizens and organizations can use it when making their views known to the Arlington County Board.
For additional information on how a tree inventory is conducted, leave a comment. Remember, we value what we can count.