For the second consecutive year, one Reston resident has gone above and beyond in the effort to remove an invasive plant from the community.
In each of the past five years, Reston Association’s Habitat Heroes program has held the Garlic Mustard Challenge to encourage the uprooting of the plant. Garlic mustard is a widespread and aggressive non-native plant species that kills off native plants, which eliminates ground cover or food sources for local animals. According to information previously provided in Reston magazine:
Because it has few enemies in Northern Virginia, garlic mustard can completely dominate a forest floor in less [than] five years by displacing hundreds of native plants, ferns and wildflowers. Garlic mustard also damages local insect populations. For example, several butterfly species lay eggs on garlic mustard because it resembles their native “host” plant, but the larvae die because they cannot eat garlic mustard.
This year, volunteers in Reston pulled 3,080 pounds of the plant during the four-month challenge. One woman, Patricia Wagner, did her part and more. Wagner was the winner of the challenge in the individual category, pulling 2,636.5 pounds of the plant. She also won the competition in 2016, when she pulled 2,360 pounds.
In the small group category, CA Technologies won for the fourth consecutive year. This year, they pulled 166.6 pounds.
In the large group category, Reston Environmental Action also was a four-year repeat winner. This year, they pulled 277 pounds.
Image via Volunteer Reston
Live Music for National Night Out — Tonight’s National Night Out activities at Lake Anne Plaza will include an acoustic performance by Alex Perez at 5:30 p.m., a DJ and the Emotion Dance and Fitness Studio from 6-8 p.m., and an 8 p.m. show from Cinema Hearts. There will also be kids’ activities and BOGO Krazy Kustard Shakes at Kustard & Co. (1631 Washington Plaza N.). [Press Release]
State of Environment Report OK’d by RA Board — The summary, produced by Reston Association’s Environmental Advisory Committee, is part of a new effort to publish an annual report on the state and management of the environment in Reston. The working group, which is comprised of nine members, spent over 1,000 combined volunteer hours compiling data. [Reston Association]
Best Ice Cream Sandwiches in DC Area — In its list of the top gooey goodies in the region, Washingtonian magazine has a recommendation for those going to Ted’s Bulletin (11948 Market St.): ask for an ice cream sandwich made with their housemade pop-tarts. [Washingtonian]
Registration Begins Today for Fall Parks Programs — Classes at Fairfax County parks, available in numerous recreational categories, begin Sept. 5. [Fairfax County Park Authority]
Is Your Pet Prepared? — Fairfax County officials want to make sure residents are not only thinking about emergency preparedness plans for the family, but for pets as well. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]
Saving the Environment One Straw at a Time — Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day. Karan Marari, 11, of Reston, is aiming to reduce their use locally with his “no straw request.” He is educating restaurant owners, urging them to change their wait staff’s behaviors and practices that lead to the unsolicited placement of plastic straws in patrons’ drinks. [Reston Connection]
One Month Anniversary of Nabra’s Death — An event is scheduled for Sunday to mark the one-month anniversary Nabra Hassanen’s killing. The goal of the event is to ease people’s pain through prayer. [All Dulles Area Muslim Society]
Boating Safety Tips — The Marine Patrol Unit has published a list of safety tips for those who plan to spend time on the water. These include wearing a life jacket, checking the durability of one’s boat, bringing emergency items such as snacks and water onboard, and more. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Line Dancer to Instruct Tonight at Lake Anne — The “Take A Break” concert series at Lake Anne Plaza will continue tonight with a dance night from Cedar Creek. Learn to dance as the tunes take over. [Lake Anne Plaza]
Following President Donald Trump’s recent announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Fairfax County is joining the Mayors Climate Action Agenda.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors endorsed joining more than 200 other municipalities nationwide in an effort to combat climate change. The three main takeaway points from the Mayors Climate Action Agenda are the development of a community greenhouse gas emissions inventory, the setting of near- and long-term emissions reduction targets, and the development of a climate action plan.
Ten years ago, Fairfax County was part of a similar agreement called Cool Counties. Cool Counties committed Fairfax County to cut the D.C. region’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) June 7, 2017
Through Cool Counties, the county has since reached its initial goal of cutting its per capita emissions by 10 percent. Helene Shore of local environmental activism group 350 Fairfax argues that this hasn’t been enough, but she’d glad the county has recommitted itself.
“We’d like to see 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. We wish that other mayors would hop aboard — it’s important that we address this at a local level and that local governments keep working towards renewable energy, since our central government won’t be doing much work it seems. We don’t have much time left and it’s important that we keep working forward.”
Fairfax County is encouraging residents to get involved, especially in reducing their electricity emissions. Residents can sign up for discounted solar panels, get expert advice on energy savings, checkout a thermal camera from the library and apply for a matching grant to fund any possible projects that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For more than a half century, signs along the roadsides and ads in local newspapers featured Smokey the Bear with a message “Keep Virginia Green.” His reference was to forest fire prevention, for which he said 9 out of 10 could be prevented. Forest fires were a big concern because wood products were big business in Virginia.
A campaign continues today with a “Keep Virginia Green” theme as part of the “Keep Virginia Beautiful” effort. It has a broader meaning, as it now includes stopping littering and other actions consumers can take as part of caring for the environment in the Commonwealth.
Maybe the most meaningful effort ever taken to protect Virginia’s environment was announced last week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe — that he had signed an Executive Directive ordering the Department of Environmental Quality to begin the process of establishing regulations in Virginia that will reduce carbon emission from power plants. As the Governor explained, “As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void. … Virginia will lead the way to cut carbon and lean in on the clean energy future.” The current federal administration has moved to rescind actions of the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and to act on climate change.
While proponents of states’ rights may applaud the shift from the federal to the state governments, wind currents from power plants and airborne pollutants do not recognize state boundaries. It is critically important that other states follow the actions of Gov. McAuliffe.
According to the press release announcing the Governor’s Executive Directive, the Commonwealth has seen an increase from just 17 megawatts of solar installed to more than 1,800 megawatts in service or under development. Revenues in the rapidly growing clean energy sector have risen from $300 million to $1.5 billion between 2014 and 2016. In the last year alone, solar installations have risen nearly 1,200 percent. The number of Virginians employed by the solar industry rose 65 percent to 3,236 — twice the number of jobs supported by coal. An analysis by The Solar Foundation quoted in the release said that Virginia is now second in the Southeast and ninth in the nation for year-over-year solar growth. As of 2017, Virginia is first in the Southeast for corporate clean energy procurement.
Dominion Energy, the Commonwealth’s largest electricity producer, announced earlier that it intends to follow the federal Clean Power Plant regulations even if they are rescinded by the current administration. Older coal-powered plants are being converted to natural gas or closed. The company will be subject to any additional regulations that result from the Governor’s Executive Directive.
It is heartening to see the number of citizens who have expressed a greater interest in environmental matters as they realize the threat to current protections under the new administration. We need to thank and applaud the Governor for his action and at the same time keep the pressure on federal and state elected officials to see that our air is kept clean and safe. I am pleased that both the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters have recognized my efforts in this regard.
350 Fairfax, a local offshoot of the 350 movement, will host an event next week in Reston to share information about the project and gather ideas about how they should focus their campaign. Helene Shore of Vienna, a co-founder of the group along with Reston resident Julie Kimmel, says their kickoff meeting is intended to grow the effort and gauge the issues concerned citizens want to attack.
“We’re hoping to meet once a month to work on different issues,” Shore said. Future meetings will be planned in other parts of the county, she said.
One of the group’s first organized efforts will be to participate in the People’s Climate Movement in D.C. on April 29. Shore said she attended the first such event in New York in 2014, in which more than 300,000 people participated.
“We’re hoping to get that many or more from across the nation to come down to D.C.,” she said.
According to the movement’s website, the name “350” comes from the acceptable amount of carbon dioxide parts per million in the atmosphere to mitigate climate change. The number is currently well above that, Shore said.
Beyond putting pressure on government to limit CO2 emissions and combat climate change, Shore said specific goals of the group will be up to the people who choose to join.
“We want to bring together people who are grassroots activists,” she said. “We are concerned about this generation and generations to come because of what’s happening.”
The group’s kickoff meeting will be held Thursday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Lake Anne Coffee House and Wine Bar (1612 Washington Plaza N.). For more information, email [email protected] or check out their Facebook page.
Reston Association is turning to crowdsourcing in the effort to map and identify native plants and uncommon wildlife.
Patricia Greenberg, RA’s environmental resource supervisor, says work has been done in the past 18 to 24 months to assess 800 acres of open space for abundance of invasive species and encroachment on natural areas. She says with the help of the community, much more can be done.
The community’s help is being enlisted through a free smartphone app called iNaturalist. By signing up for the Reston Bioblitz group within the app, information users provide regarding plants and wildlife in Reston will be shared with RA’s Environmental Resource Department as they work to map the area’s natural landscape.
“Volunteers can help by mapping and identifying the sensitive or rare native plants and wildlife that exist throughout Reston,” Greenberg said. “Mapping these special natives will help determine where staff should focus their work to suppress invasive plants and protect native species.”
Work done at the sites prioritized through the mapping effort will include removing invasive plants, installing and protecting native species, and restoring habitat throughout Reston’s woods.
Greenberg said anyone who is willing to snap photos for the app is able to participate in the project. No expertise is required, as any photos that are uploaded can be examined and identified through the app by a naturalist.
“We’re asking for people to get this app on their phone, take a walk in Reston, see plants or wildflowers, and take photos through the app,” she said. “I’m hoping to have a great reaction and a lot of feedback and involvement.”
Greenberg said similar efforts in Arlington, Alexandria and the National Park Service have been successful. She also said her department works with Fairfax County’s Master Naturalists to gather such information, but more help is always a good thing.
“Basically, we’re just trying to get people out and about,” she said. “It takes a certain type of person.”
For more information about the Bioblitz effort, contact Greenberg at [email protected] or 703-435-6552.
Top photo courtesy Reston Association; screencap via iNaturalist app