Summer rains flooded many a basement in Arlington, but along Four Mile Run as it courses through Bon Air Park, precipitation caused a wipeout. The roots of many mature trees on the banks of the creek gave way after being inundated, and water overflowed the banks, leaving former picnic areas saturated and still soggy.
The muddy conditions did not deter several dozen volunteers, led by TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria and Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, from planting 300 saplings in what is now recognized as a bottomland. The young trees, ranging from 4 to 6 feet tall, were nestled among mature trees that withstood the flood. Eventually, the saplings will replace trees that reach the end of their lifespans.
Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation organized the volunteer effort on Saturday, Oct. 13, bought the new trees, and delivered them to the park near the entrance to the Custis Trail under I-66. As the volunteers matched Swamp white oak, Pin oak, River birch, Sycamore, Willow and Red maple trees to flags set out by Andrew Knapik, the Urban Forestry unit’s tree planting coordinator, county crews worked elsewhere in the park to fill eroded hillsides and move picnic tables to higher ground.
Lyndell Core, a county park manager, said Bon Air Park was the hardest hit by floods this year. Even the park’s basketball court was damaged by the high water, and a picnic table or two floated downstream.
So, how long does it take around 50 people to plant 300 trees? Three hours, if this outing was any indication. Many thanks to all the volunteers who planted, several for the first time.