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Design Review Board Vote Sets ‘Snakeden’ Stream Restoration Project into Motion

Plans to restore roughly 800 linear feet of Lake Audubon’s streams were approved by Reston Association’s Design Review Board Tuesday night. The project, called Snakeden, would involve tree removal, stream construction and revegetation along RA’s parcels between Cedar Cove Cluster and Wakerobin Lane.

Meghan Fellows, the county’s manager of watershed projects, said a design team has been working on the project, with the input of RA, property owners and residents, for nearly three years.

“The stream is desperately in need of some assistance,” Fellows said at the DRB meeting, noting that portions of the area are degrading significantly.

Richard Newlon, the board’s chairman, said he hopes the project team will minimize the loss of trees by tweaking designs and implementation to conserve trees — even if it meant a minor tweak to save just one tree.

The project was challenged by the need to secure easements across private property and Reston Association property to construct the stream. Land rights for the project were obtained in June following a more than a year-long period of tree and stream surveys and conceptual planning.

After a cycle of revisions, permits were granted in October. After receiving final approval for designs, drawings and permits in the spring of next year, construction is likely to begin in the summer, Fellows said.

Overall, several sanitary crossings in the area are exposed and RA found that 40 trees are likely to fall down if no action is taken. Trees will be replanted during later phases of the project.

County staff estimates the project will cost under $1 million.

Photos via handout/Reston Association

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Del. Ken Plum: A Personal Responsibility for Climate Change

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

If the 91 scientists from 40 countries who analyzed more than 6,000 scientific studies on climate change are to be believed, the dire consequences of climate change will be felt as soon as the next couple of decades, within the lifespan of most of the readers of this column.

Do exaggerated weather conditions of hotter temperatures, excessive rains and winds with more hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts over many years for some regions, wildfires covering thousands of acres as well as the death of the coral reefs and some wildlife sound familiar along with recurrent flooding and disappearance of some beaches? All of these are signs of climate change.

The warning from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the second in as many decades. Will it be heeded? Many policymakers will not be around to feel the consequences of inaction, but what about the old-fashioned notion that we have a responsibility for future generations including our own progeny? Should we try to save the planet for them? Any one action by an individual will not change the course we are on with changes to our climate, but the serious and collective actions on the part of most citizens have the potential to make a difference.

I have heard arguments from those who take a religious view of the issue that they do not believe that the god they worship as the creator of the world would let humankind destroy it. Could it be that the same God who gave humankind dominion over the planet would have an expectation that we would be good stewards of the resources and protect them?

I support a total reversal of the insane policies on climate change of the current federal administration. I abhor this administration’s policies and practices to ignore the clear warnings and to pursue environmental rules based on personal and corporate strategies to make a monetary profit or to gain votes from a constituency. As I discussed in this column in prior weeks, I plan to provide leadership on issues at the state level that will curtail and reverse actions furthering climate change.

Now it is up to us individually to live our lives in a way that shows our mindfulness of the effects of climate change and our willingness to make changes ourselves that will start to reverse the damage. As consumers, we need to reward businesses that pursue climate awareness policies and actions and to not deal with those whose manufacturing processes and actions contribute to climate change.

We need to buy energy from renewable sources even if may cost more. We need to live in such a way that enhances the health of the natural elements around us. We need to plant more trees that can have a great impact on greenhouse gases. We need to walk or bike more and drive internal combustion engine vehicles less.

Who’s in with me? Let’s prove the scientists wrong by changing the way we live in order to preserve our planet. If it is too late for you, what about your grandchildren and their children?

File photo

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What’s Going On In Reston This Weekend?

Reston Community Players’ first show of their 52nd season kicks off tonight with a performance of Hairspray. The musical is presented in partnership with Music Theatre International.

Tonight’s show begins at 8 p.m. and performances are scheduled for Saturday and next weekend as well. Details about upcoming shows are available online. Tickets are $28 for adults and $24 for seniors and students.

(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)

  • If you’d rather see a show about South Africa’s fragile democracy, you can take part in a viewing and discussion on the topic at Reston Regional Library today from 2-4:15 p.m.
  • Halloween is just around the corner and kids between the age of six months and 12 years can enjoy the first-ever “Boo at the Pool” at the Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center from 1:45-2:30 p.m. Registration is $4 for Reston residents and $8 for all others. Treat will float for little ones and others will sink into the pool for a little more adventure.
  • If you’d rather keep water out of Halloween fun, infant and kids up to 8 years old can take part in Halloween Family Fun Day at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. The event includes carnival games, a musical performance and a puppet show. The event is free.
  • Keep Reston beautiful by taking part in a fall stream clean up on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Participants will meet up at Hunters Woods Village Center to help restore Reston’s streams. All ages are welcome but kids under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Reston Association also needs help monitoring local streams on Saturday from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Volunteers will work with a small team to collect data and identify insects, with the ultimate goal of assessing the health of the stream.
  • A book club about books and their movie adaptations is set for Sunday at 4 p.m. at Scrawl Books. This month’s book is Crazy Rich Asians.
  • Reston Town Center will become the site of a 4K walk and run organized by Shatterproof, a national organization that aims to end the stigma against addiction. The event runs from 8 a.m. to noon.
  • RA is also organizing a chartered bus trip to Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Reston’s sister city of Columbia, Md. Participants will enjoy a buffet lunch and see “Ain’t Misbehavin'”. The event will run from 9:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tickets are $75 for RA members and $85 for all others.
  • On Sunday, bestselling author and LGBTQ activist Armistead Maupin will speak at the RCC Hunters Woods at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for Reston residents and $30 for all others.
  • Kids can test their opening tactics and ending strategies at Reston Regional Library’s chess club for kids on Sunday from 2-3 p.m.
  • The 20th anniversary of Acoustic Jam is on for Sunday from 1-4 p.m. The event, which takes place at Frying Pan Farm Park, is free.
  • And Professor Harry Butowsky’s six-part lecture series on the history of World War II continues on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at Reston Regional Library.

Photo via Reston Community Players

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Tree Clearing Along Butler Pond Planned to Comply with State Dam Safety Code

Reston Association will remove dozens of trees near Butler Pond after learning the trees that line the pond are in violation of a state requirement for dam safety. The problem was flagged last year.

RA staff’s said crews expected to begin the work in the beginning of September last year, but RA later realized the area where clearing was slated was larger than 2,500 square feet — kicking in a county requirement for an engineered plan and permits from Fairfax County, Nicki Bellezza, RA’s watershed manager, told Reston Now.

RA received permits last August and finalized a contractor after putting the project out to bid, she said. Roughly 126 trees larger than four inches in diameter will be removed by the end of the year, along with hundreds of other smaller trees.

Clearing the trees is necessary to ensure protection from floods and preserve the dam’s safety. The violation of the state requirement was found during a routine inspection of the pond, Bellezza said.

“Trees on the dam may look good but can lead to surface problems,” she said. The uprooting of trees can cause major voids in the embankment to surface and decaying roots can create cause the back side of the dam to slide. Also, in some cases, channels necessary for water to pipe through can become exposed, resulting in leakage and dam breaching, which can cause flooding of downstream homes.

Reston Association expects the work to be completed by the end of the year.

According to Virginia code:

Dam owners shall not permit the growth of trees and other woody vegetation and shall remove any such vegetation from the slopes and crest of embankments and the emergency spillway area, and within a distance of 25 feet from the toe of the embankment and abutments of the dam.

Butler Pond is located on the west side of Reston Parkway near the intersection with Route 7. It was created in 1989 and has a surface area of about three acres.

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Reston Association Monitors Algae Bloom at Lake Thoreau

A bloom of purple algae has appeared at Lake Thoreau. Reston Association is monitoring the bloom of Planktothrix rubescens algae.

In a statement, RA said that the algae likely appeared because heavy rains washed different nutrients and sediment into the lake.

Although the algae are expected to clear up on its own, people and pets should avoid ingesting water from the lake. The algae should disappear on its own as cooler conditions take over.

Blue and green algae that appeared on Lake Audubon disappeared after floating on the lake three years ago.

Photo via RA

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Talk on Reston’s Environmental Quality Set for September 5

Aerial of Reston (Photo via Reston Historic Trust & Museum)

The Reston Historic Trust & Museum is hosting a talk on the environmental quality of Reston on September 5 at the Reston Community Center Lake Anne’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery.

Doug Britt, a Virginia Master Naturalist and project director for the first Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER), will summarize the findings of the RASER and discuss new topics planned for this year’s report, which is currently in progress.  Britt will also provide an update on progress made since the first report was published in July last year.

The RASER included 60 recommendations on how to improve and protect Reston’s environmental quality. It is intended to summarize existing environment data, establish a baseline against which future changes can be measured and provide information that can policy and program decisions. The report covers topics like wildlife, light pollution, environmental education, water resources and air quality.

The second report will likely be submitted to Reston Association’s Board of Directions in the fall. Its scope was expanded to include more environmental attributes in Reston.

The event, which begins at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Photo via Reston Historic Trust & Museum

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Sediment Removal Almost Complete at Lake Thoreau

Maintenance work to clear sediment and debris caught in the channels of Lake Thoreau could be complete this month.

Lake dredging began in early April and was delayed after a recent failure of dredging equipment. Reston Association anticipates the part that malfunctioned will be delivered and installed soon. Once the cove is dredged, RA’s contractor, Lake Services, Inc., will clean up the staging area next to the Lake Thoreau dam.

Dredging helps maintain the depth of channels and reduces the exposure of fish, wildlife and people to contaminants, according to the National Ocean Service.

RA expects to remove about 848,290 liquid gallons or 4,200 cubic yards worth of material. The project was initially expected to be complete by the end of June. 

Photo by vantagehill

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Herndon Town Council to Consider Installing Free Public WiFi, Declaring June LGBTQ Pride Month

The Town of Herndon’s Council will consider a proclamation to officially recognize June as “LGBTQ+ Pride Month” at a public hearing tonight at 7 p.m. in the Herndon Council Chambers Building (765 Lynn Street).

The proclamation intends to “recognize the difficulties and prejudice the LGBTQ+ community has worked to overcome,” in addition to recognizing the work of advocates who fight for equality for all people.

The Town Council is also considering launching a Smart Cities pilot program in Herndon. Through the agreement with Vivacity D.C. Inc., a Delaware-based corporation, the town will evaluate smart city technologies, including remote-controlled LED lights with radio capabilities in downtown Herndon in an effort to reduce electricity and maintenance costs.

Upgraded infrastructure, to be installed by the end of the year, would allow the town to provide free public WiFi, improve mobile coverage and county pedestrian traffic, according to the draft pilot project agreement.

Specifically, Vivacity DC, Inc. will build a wireless network in the downtown area, replace 10 street light poles with LED smart poles, and upgrade 10 existing street light poles with LED lighting. The project also includes the installation of an electric vehicle charging station.

Town Council public hearings are webcast and are cablecast live on Herndon Community Television (HCTV).

File photo 

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Reston Association Tackles Wind Storm Damage at Glade Tennis Courts

Reston Association’s Central Services Facility staff have removed trees at Glade Tennis Courts (11550 Glade Drive) in order to prevent future damage.

During a March windstorm, two large pine trees fell onto the tennis court, damaging the clay court, court lights and perimeter fencing, according to Ali Khatibi, the manager of the Central Services Facility.

After inspections, arborists determined standing and pine trees posed a threat to public safety. Trees were removed from the court.

On March 2, RA estimated windstorm cleanup could take at least one month. Arborists continue to remove trees from pathways.

“We appreciate your patience during this process,” Khatibi said in a Reston Today video. 

 

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Thursday Morning Notes

Reston Association Board of Directors meeting today — The board will vote on a move to build in stricter financial controls following a third-party review of RA’s controversial purchase of the Tetra property. The meeting will be streamed live on YouTube. [Reston Now]

Tolls could take a toll – Be prepared for hiccups in your commute. Upgrades to the tolling system on Dulles Toll Road could lead to detours and delays over the next six months. [WTOP]

Congrats to South Lakes High School athletes — Several local students are considered the D.C. area’s best winter sports athletes. Make Reston proud. [The Washington Post]

Metro resumes normal service today — Regular weekday service will resume today. County schools are closed and county government offices are open, with the option of unscheduled leave.  [WMATA]

Reston Community Center programs are cancelled — All RCC programs and co-sponsored programs are cancelled today, although RCC facilities will open today. [RCC]

It’s cleanup time — Volunteers are needed for the annual Potomac River Watershed cleanup on April 14. Make an impact today. [Reston Association]

Photo by Twitter user @jgs3584

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Reston Designated a Biophilic City in Recognition of Environmental Efforts

Reston will officially become a biophilic city tomorrow (March 22), joining a network of cities that try to make connections to the natural world.

The designation is given by The Biophilic Cities Network, which was founded by Tim Beatley, a professor of urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia.

“We carry with us ancient brains, and to be happy and healthy and have meaningful lives, we need that connection with nature. And we can’t just get it on a holiday for a week or two during summer. It has to be integrated into our daily lives — everyday nature where we live and work. Nature we experience every hour,” Beatley wrote in a statement.

Doug Britt, a member of Reston Association’s environmental advisory committee, applied for the designation, which has also been given to San Francisco, Portland and Wellington.

Beatley will present the designation at Reston Association’s meeting tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.

Here’s more from RA’s draft agenda packet:

At its Regular meeting on July 27, 2017 the Board of Directors received an overview of the first Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER), produced by the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) as a tool for benchmarking the quality of the environment in Reston. Along with the report, the EAC presented several recommendations for Board consideration to advance or improve the quality of various aspects of Reston’s environment.

One of the recommendations proposed by the Environmental Advisory Committee in conjunction with the specific actions to advance environmental management was for Reston Association to apply to become a Biophilic City.

File photo via Reston Association

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Workgroup to Present Findings of First “State of the Environment” Report in Reston

Pushed by ongoing development in the community, Reston Association committed to publishing an annual report about the state of the environment in Reston last year. Now, the results of the first Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER) are in.

The workgroup charged to lead the effort will present its findings at a community meeting on Thursday from 7-8 p.m. at the Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive).

The nine-member group invested more than 1,000 volunteer hours to produce the report, which draws from interviews and documents from researchers, scientists and others.

The study is intended to give readers a better understanding of Reston’s current environmental conditions in order to provide a baseline against which future changes to the environment can be measured.

“As urbanization expands rapidly, not only in Northern Virginia but also worldwide, there is a growing disconnect between people and nature. When people are isolated from nature, they perceive it as less relevant and more threatening, and its physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits are devalued. Consequently, interest in conserving and protecting the natural environment is weakened, and society comes to accept a lowered environmental quality as the new norm, ” according to the report.

In light of the limited use of tools to manage stormwater when Reston was developed, the study calls on Reston Association to track and block any requested waivers of stormwater management during the land development and redevelopment process.

Other recommendations include the following:

  • Develop an incentives system to encourage Reston property owners and associations to manage stormwater runoff on their sites.
  • Plant more trees and replace removed tress with native species to increase the quality and quantity of tree cover.
  • Push residents and businesses to landscape using native plants instead of turf grass.
  • Encourage the placement of more electric car charging stations.
  • Identify stream reaches most vulnerable to channel modifications due high-energy water flows.
  • Support more follow-up studies of restored Reston streams
  • Identify sources of phosphorus and sediment loading in watersheds of lakes

The complete 176-page report is available online.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Reston Woman Removes More Than a Ton of Invasive Garlic Mustard

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

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Tuesday Morning Notes

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]

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Thursday Morning Notes

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]

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