To celebrate our graduates and express our gratitude for our valued community partners, we held a picnic last Fort Ward Park in Alexandria on a rainy May 5th. Fortunately, there was a pavilion to keep guests dry, and a patio umbrella helped shield burgers and mushrooms from the mist. Here are photos from the event taken by Tree Steward Jane Seward.
Tree Stewards Jane Seward and Lynn Gas and teacher Steven Neely coordinated a city-approved plan to add 100 trees to the grounds of James K. Polk Elementary School in Alexandria, and on May 4th, 27 volunteers joined in installing the first 33 trees. Thanks to a $1,000 donation by Tree Steward Bonnie Petry, all the trees will be watered for their first year. Another big planting is planned at the school this fall. Check out the planters in action, photographed by Jane Seward and Eileen Grant.
Volunteers from Oracle Corp. in Arlington joined Tree Stewards and other volunteers to add 30 trees around a play field in Alexandria’s Four Mile Run Park on May 11. The trees were provided by the city’s Natural Resources division and joined others that have been planted in the large park over several years. See the volunteers in action.
Over five sessions this spring, Tree Stewards visited two Arlington parks to sleeve nearly 1,000 saplings with biodegradable tubes that will protect from wind, wildlife, and chemicals until the trees can survive on their own. The bare-root trees were planted in November by contractors and volunteers from Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria, Arlington Regional Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.
This Arlington Connection cover story on the Lower Bluemont Park tree tubing team was prepared by author and photographer Eden Brown, a Tree Steward who also participated in the work. Thanks, Eden!
The 78 hours of volunteer work by Tree Stewards was the up side of the decidedly down down-page story on Page 3 of the Arlington Connection describing the recent County Board’s unanimous vote to permit Accessory Dwelling Units within five feet of property lines over the objections of its own Urban Forestry Commission and the Arlington Tree Action Group.
Tree experts and advocates argued that lot perimeter trees would likely be cut down to make room for these new buildings and suggested that incentives to preserve mature trees as well as requirements to monitor impacts to trees be added to the amendment. County staff declined to change the text.
Click here to see the May 22 issue of Arlington Connection.
Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria invite you to join us in volunteering to sleeve saplings with biodegradable tubes that will protect from wind, wildlife and chemicals until the trees can survive on their own in our parks. This is an easy, rewarding task that can demonstrate your deep love of Arlington trees.
Last fall, nearly 1,000 bare-root trees were planted by contractors and local volunteers from Tree Stewards, Arlington Regional Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. The trees did very well over the winter, but they’re beginning to tempt hungry rabbits and deer whose chomp could easily kill the young saplings. They need your help now so they can become the next generation of stream-side trees.
No experience necessary. Gloves, tools, snacks and water will be provided. Click on one or both dates to volunteer via Eventbrite:
1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 15 Benjamin Banneker Park, 6620 18th St. N., Arlington 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 19 Lower Bluemont Park, 401 N. Manchester St., Arlington
Over four days starting this Friday, which cities worldwide will engage the most people to record the most observations of wildlife and plants, and find the most species? This is the City Nature Challenge, and it’s open to all, including you. Last year, 68 cities participated and tallied 441,888 observations by 17,329 people. This year, more than 160 cities around the globe will join this citizen science effort. The free iNaturalist app (inaturalist.org) is how data is recorded by those participating in the City Nature Challenge. First, install the app, or the even snazzier Seek version (inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app) on your smart phone or tablet. Second, with a fully charged device, go outside from Friday, April 26 through Monday, April 29 and photograph living things with the app. Seek will tell you instantly what you have seen. The standard version can be asked to suggest possibilities. Third, be sure to upload your photos to iNaturalist. Save precious battery power by uploading your images from your home computer. Scientists and researchers will help identify your findings. To reduce their burden, do not submit photos of your pets, common birds or commonly cultivated flowers. No fido, no robins, no tulips. A short instructional video about how to use iNaturalist can be found here: vimeo.com/246153496 If you plan to focus on trees, take several photos: one with the entire tree and its surroundings, one of the branching pattern (alternate or opposite), one of the bark, one of the leaves and any flowers or fruit, and be sure to include any evidence of pests or disease. Submit all of the images of the same subject so that scientists have a better chance of correctly identifying what you saw. Your aim is to get “research grade” status for your work. Sometimes a piece of white paper or foil can help illuminate your subject, such as bark or a stationary salamander, so that researchers can see more detail of telltale markings. For those fascinated by fungi, a good technique is to take a mirror with you and place it under the subject so that in one shot you can capture the base, stem, connection to the cap, gills and top of the mushroom. Detail of the area where the stem connects to the cap is crucial in identifying fungi with photos, so be sure to focus on that. This type of crowd sourcing allows scientists worldwide, including many at our own Smithsonian Institution, to mine the data for information they need to track species. You might even find a new species! It has happened in our area before with insects, so go chase some bugs with your phone and see what turns up. Last year, the DC Metro area did well during the City Nature Challenge, according to Alonso Abugattas, writing on the Capital Naturalist blog. He said the area’s 22,809 observations ranked it fifth overall, behind San Francisco—which with Los Angeles started the competition three years ago—(41,737 observations), Dallas/Fort Worth (34,218 observations), San Diego (33,448 observations), and Klang Valley/Greater Kuala Lumpur (25,287 observations). Just behind DC were Houston and New York. Coming in last was Palmer Station Antarctica, whose three participants had 36 observations of 27 species. Globally 124 new species were added to the iNaturalist data base that had not been present before. Participation by 876 individuals ranked our area fourth, behind San Francisco (1,532 observers), San Diego County (1,211 observers), Boston (992 observers), and just ahead of Los Angeles (855 observers). The DC area came in eighth last year with 1,855 verified species observed during 40 planned events, 25 of them in Arlington. This year, more than 124 local events are planned. Check them out and sign up for events sponsored by Arlington County at parks.arlingtonva.us/nature-history/city-nature-challenge. Those under the auspices of Arlington Regional Master Naturalists are at signupgenius.com/go/60b0b4fa8ab22a31-arlington. For area-wide events, go to citynaturechallengedc.org.
Tree Stewards, trainees and other environmentalists headed out along Holmes Run in Alexandria Sunday to find native and invasive vines after learning how to distinguish them from a slide lecture by noted naturalist Rod Simmons.
First stop outside Beatley Library was an American elm (Ulmus americana) bursting with light-green ripening fruits on the bank of the old Holmes Run channel.
In Northern Virginia, there are several plants we and trees would be better off without. Some strangle trees, some add enough weight to topple them, and some grow so vigorously that tree saplings don’t stand a chance in natural areas these nasty weeds have invaded.
Here they are, illustrated in slides from Sarah Archer, Arlington County’s invasive plant and natural resources specialist.