Monday, December 10, 2012
Part I: Hell Hole, diking and occupation
This is the first of two articles on Dyke Marsh’s human history, based on a presentation by Matthew Virta to the 90 people who attended the Nov. 14 meeting of the Friends of Dyke Marsh. Virta is the Cultural Resources Program Manager for the George Washington Memorial Parkway, U.S. National Park Service. The second article will be posted on Wednesday. --- From diking to daunting escapades, from bootlegging to railroading, the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve has had a fascinating human history. Dyke Marsh is a wooded, watery, green nature preserve along the parkway at the Potomac River’s edge to most people, a treasured freshwater tidal wetland, alive with beavers, birds, muskrats, snakes, dragonflies and more. In addition to its rich natural…
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Officials’ and advocates’ choices rebuffed.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Board of Geographic Names has given four unnamed islands in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve official names — Angel, Bird, Coconut and Dyke Island — rejecting suggestions from Rep. Jim Moran, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Friends of Dyke Marsh (FODM). They had requested that the islands be named Osprey, Marsh Wren, Kingbird and Cormorant Islands. The USGS Board accepted names recommended by the scientists who prepared the 2010 study documenting the severe erosion occurring in Dyke Marsh and entered the new names into the Geographic Names Information System, the official repository. Commenting on the decision, Congressman Moran said, "Dyke Marsh is one of Northern Virginia's treasured …
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Fall walk delights as Hurricane Sandy made its way north.
As Hurricane Sandy churned up the East Coast Saturday, meteorologist Barry Sperling spotted a sunbow, a rainbow-like circle shimmering around the sun. “It’s a sign that it will rain within 12 hours,” he told the group on a fall colors walk in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. “Also called a ‘halo,’ the sunbow is the refraction of light through a cirrostratus cloud." Pat Salamone, a Friends of Dyke Marsh (FODM) board member, led 15 people on a two-hour morning foray along the Haul Road, the main pedestrian trail in the preserve, and pointed out the brilliant colors bursting out all around and varied tones of vegetation heading into winter’s quiescence. The star-shaped yellow leaves of the sweetgum tree and the orangey leaves of the …
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
GMU Student Studying Wildlife in Suburbia
Surburbia is a land of cul de sacs, colonials, split levels, grassy lawns, driveways, sidewalks and a few critters. Or maybe a lot of critters. Katie Busch is studying which wildlife species use which yards in several Northern Virginia communities for her George Mason University (GMU) master’s degree thesis. She is comparing 40 residential yards, 20 that are certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat and 20 that are not certified. She has sites in the Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Arlington, Great Falls, Herndon, Fairfax, Vienna and McLean areas. The targeted properties are between one-quarter and one acre in size. Throughout October and November, Busch is installing cameras a foot or so above the ground and capturing…
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Friends of Dyke Marsh learn facts and hazards of migration.
It may seem quiet outside these late summer nights, but there’s a lot going on in the skies. Millions of birds are migrating south day and night. On Wednesday night, 75 people turned out to hear Alicia King of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Program offer insights into the mysteries of bird migration. The program was sponsored by the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. The Mount Vernon area is prime territory for the fall and spring migration because of the diversity of habitat, from wetlands to woodlands to the river. In mid-September, the numbers of neotropical species and dabbling ducks traveling through are on the rise. Shorebirds have been passing through since August. Migration is …
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Caution is advised for swimming, eating fish.
As Northern Virginians swelter through another hot, steamy summer, the Potomac River looks inviting. But it really may not be very welcoming. Although the water temperatures range from the mid- to high-80s, the river is risky for swimming, caution officials at the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) because of bacteria levels in some places. Commission staffers say they cannot provide a definitive answer when asked if the river is safe for swimming and wading. At certain sites, ICPRB scientists conduct weekly tests for bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness and other infections in people; they monitor some sites monthly. Their guidance is posted here. Summer is a popular time for fishing on the river and its …
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
What’s in a name? We may find out later this year when four, as-yet unnamed islands in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve may get official names. Most Northern Virginia landlubbers probably don’t realize there are four islands in the preserve without official names. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names, part of the U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, may change that. USGS scientists have proposed that the islands be named Angel, Bird, Coconut and Dyke Islands. The Potomac Riverkeeper supports these proposals. The U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries “have no objection to the proposed names,” according to the Board’s executive secretary, Lou Yost. The Friends of Dyke …
Monday, June 25, 2012
All of Mount Vernon benefits, says Martin.
The Mount Vernon Council of Citizens’ Associations’ (MVCCA) Board of Directors on June 14 approved a resolution proposed by the Council’s Environment and Recreation Committee on June 6 supporting the full restoration of Dyke Marsh and retaining the Belle Haven Marina concession and mooring field. Dyke Marsh is a 485-acre freshwater, tidal, narrow-leaf cattail wetland and national park on the Potomac River in northern Mount Vernon. The wetland is a remnant of the once extensive freshwater marshes along the upper tidal zone of the river. Dyke Marsh is losing 1.5 to 2.0 acres per year, concluded the U.S. Geological Survey in their study, Analysis of the Deconstruction of Dyke Marsh, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Virginia: Progression…
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Submit your comments to the National Park Service today.
Today is the deadline to submit comments to the National Park Service regarding long-term management plans for Dyke Marsh and the Belle Haven Marina. The National Park Service has proposed four alternatives for the restoration and long-term management of the tidal freshwater marsh and other associated wetland habitats lost or impacted in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve on the Potomac River. The four options are as follows: leave the marsh as is, minimum, moderate, and full restoration. The three options differ mostly in the extent or acreage of fill that would be placed in the gouged-out areas. Click here to submit your comments.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Bald eagles are an "incredible success story,” says scientist.
The parents have an empty nest. Literally. “Our” 2012 bald eagle kids are grown up and mostly gone, though some are hanging around the nest, as is their wont. There were three known, active bald eagle nests in the northern Mount Vernon area this spring where adults raised young. In the last week, observers who monitor the nests say that this year’s young appear to have fledged. For the past several years, two bald eagle pairs have nested along the Potomac River in the Mount Vernon area. And for the first time, another pair built their nuptial lair at the seemingly inhospitable intersection of Route 1 and the Capital Beltway on the top of a metal utility tower. Bald eagles that hatch in April in this area usually can fly and leave the nest …