If you were counting on the Rachel Carson hike, it had to be postponed because the house became unavailable. The Rachel Carson hike and house visit is now set for November 13. Info on this below the stream cleanup.
10:00 a.m. - Noon
Meet at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park.
We will again be hosted by the Anacostia Watershed Society, which offers these free trips for educational purposes. The pontoon boat is mostly covered, so it can handle sun and light rain. Heavy rain is a no-go. This is your chance to see where the NWB water goes, and if you joined us in July, to see how the river changes with the season. The boat accommodates 20. For more info, directions, and to register, click the button.
7:30 - 9:15 p.m. via Zoom
Speaker: Thambirajah Saravanapavan, Ph.D., P.E., Army Corps of Engineers, Project Manager
Dr. Saravanapavan will discuss the barrier removal projects, their origins, and hoped for effects for fish migration up the lower reaches of the NWB and Sligo Creek. The steep descent from the Piedmont to the Coastal Plain presents a natural barrier to further migration.
The Zoom link will be sent to everyone on our listserv and in our database.
10:00 a.m. - Noon
Alderton Rd NWB Branch trailhead (map)
Leaders: Anne Ambler, email@example.com and Matt Boyer
We will follow the NWB trail to the cleanup area. It lies beside Bonifant Rd and also under the spans of the ICC, which crosses the NWB 3 times. Flat terrain after the initial descent. The area tends to be muddy.
Wear long pants and sleeves, and shoes that can get muddy. Bags and gloves will be provided. Bring water if you need it in your reusable water bottle. Revised Montgomery Parks protocol will be in effect. The latest: Adults AND youth under 18 can register through the registration link. No separate waiver link is necessary.
9:30 a.m. to Noon (or whenever)
Meet at Burnt Mils WEST (dam side)
Leaders: Rebecca and Ted Henson.
After intro, we will hike 2.5 miles to the house where Rachel Carson lived (1957 - 1964) while she wrote her highly influential book Silent Spring. We will be walking where she walked. When we reach the house, we will visit 8 people at a time in order to stay safely distanced. Please remember to bring a mask to use while indoors.Following the house visit, everyone can hike back at their own speed.
RSVP to Rebecca at RebeccaSHenson@gmail.com
Leader Kem Morawski, sporting the latest in cleanup finery (fluorescent vest), kicks off the cleanup at Burnt Mills East. Photo A. Ambler, 10/2/21
The water was very calm. We collected our samples while crouching on the sand bar at the right edge of the picture and on the adjacent rock. Analysis showed our E-coli counts to be just 36.9 and 38.4 mpn/100mL, the lowest by far of the 5 sites sampled. (The other sites are on Long Branch and Sligo Creek.) If the E-coli level stayed like that, swimming would be safe. But unfortunately, after a rain, E-coli levels rise. 5/19/21
Perched on a rock, Anne shows the turbidity sample. We also check the acidity level and water temperature vs air temperature. Sampling will continue every 2 weeks, and at the end of the summer we'll have a profile of stream quality. 5/19/21
Bacteria samples must be kept on ice and analyzed within 5 hours from collection, so it's a race against time to turn in the samples.5/19/21
That's a thermometer she is holding over the water. 6/2/21
The water turned out to be a shade warmer than the air. Perhaps hot water running off pavement? 6/2/21
The bacteria sample must be analyzed within 5 hours, so the label must have time as well as date. The e-coli level, averaged between 2 samples, was 249 MPN/100 mL, still passing, but higher than on 5/19. 6/2/21
Monitors also must fill out a chain of custody form. 6/2/21
They compare the pH strip color to the coding. The water was more alkaline than at the testing 2 weeks earlier. 6/2/21
After a dry period, the e-coli level at our monitoring site was very good. Kem holds the monitoring kit with ice packs and the clip board for recording our data. 6/30/21
Anacostia Riverkeeper's grant provides for testing on 3 sites on Sligo Creek and 1 on Long Branch in addition to our site at Burnt Mills. This map shows the locations of the sites, with colorful e.coli results.
These results for the NWB are very good-just 95.9 mpn/100ML.
The weather had been dry, so road runoff was greatly reduced. But Sligo Creek still suffered, and of course it feeds into the NWB, which may explain why our E.coli readings farther down the NWB last summer were bad.
NWB is still the best of the bunch, but not as good as 2 weeks ago.
It's so nice seeing that green bar for the NWB!
Unfortunately, the NWB didn't pass this time, but is not as bad as the others. Bear in mind, of course, that the others feed into the NWB downstream from Burnt Mills.
Sad not to see a green bar--or at least a yellow one--for the NWB. That's what heavy rain does--washes a lot of nasty stuff straight into the NWB, probably mostly by-passing the riparian buffer.
The site at Burnt Mills definitely suffered from the storms of the previous 2 days. Our usual site was somewhat under water, woody debris was piled against the rocks, and plastic trash was everywhere.
The super high bacterial level--off the chart--makes one wonder about possibly septic or sewer contamination. We had been a little spoiled by that green bar earlier in the summer. Now it's ALL red.
We were surprised the results were so bad because Wednesday morning when we scooped the sample, the water appeared to have settled down following the heavy rains of a few days before.
NOT liking that tall red bar for NWB2! How could Sligo Creek, with all the hard cover in its watershed, be better than the Northwest Branch?
Once again, the Northwest Branch fails dramatically, while Sligo Creek is pretty decent. How to explain it?
While this is a little better (lower) than last time, it is not at all good.
We PASSED at last! But this was before the rain. If you are interested in some of the other measures taken, see the ARK water quality portal here.
It is really a mystery how NWB-2 came out so well this time relative to Sligo Creek, and so poorly the previous two times.
The group assembles near the Bladensburg Waterfront Park boat dock.
gave us a virtual preview of the short-lived woodland treasures along the Northwest Branch and other local trails. She included key identification features, medicinal uses, and folklore associated with these spring ephemeral visual treats. She shared just where to find whole arrays of flowers--and also warned of the inroads being made by non-native invasives such as Lesser Celandine. The trail guide she mentioned in her talk and the slides she used can be downloaded below. If you want to review the entire presentation, check out the YouTube (below, or click on Spring Beauties). Toward the end of the presentation, you'll hear a variety of frog calls, identified. Enjoy! And then get out on the trails very soon, before many of these flowers are gone.
The program covered biological monitoring background and long-term monitoring results; stream restoration project updates, especially focused on the Glenallan Tributary to the NWB; other stormwater mitigation & water quality enhancement efforts; and volunteer services updates. Our presenters were Rachel Gauza, Biological Monitoring Program Coordinator; Erin McArdle, P.E., Environmental Engineer; Jackie Hoban, Senior Natural Resources Specialist; and Valeria Espinoza, Stream & Parks Cleanup Coordinator. Doug Stephens, Principal Natural Resources Specialist, kept an eye on the chat questions and provided answers. A YouTube video of the presentation is linked here.
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Maryland Master Naturalist and science educator Paula Wang treated us to a virtual look around the winter forest, and my oh my, what we've been missing! Winter has its own interesting natural phenomena--among the trees, on the forest floor, and birds you can actually see now that the leaves are gone. Paula captured it all in pictures. If you missed the program, or would like to review, you can find a video of the complete presentation, courtesy of NNWB member Ed Murtagh, here. To review a particular slide, pause the video. Enjoy your winter walks with new powers of observation!
Ryan Colliton, program manager for the Vegetation Ecology and Management Program at Montgomery Parks. and Corinne Stephens, the Weed Warrior Coordinator, presented proposed updates to the Weed Warrior program and to the 2009 vegetation management plan for parks. The presentation slides can be downloaded from the button below. Big plans are in the works for a powerful Weed Warrior program once training can again take place!
Earlier plans: the 2009 Vegetation Management Plan ; The 2013 Natural Resources Management Plan. It describes all the major habitats in the county and lists links to all the management plans (for deer and streams, for example).
At our Feb. 4 meeting, Dr. Kathleen Michels described the toxic effects of microplastic pollution on aquatic life and seabirds. Dr. Michels stressed that plastic pollution includes the broken bits and dissolved toxins from artificial turf. She displayed samples of the rug of plastic grass and the pulverized used tire crumbs that most often serve as infill for cushioning and to hold the blades up. Soccer fields contain roughly 675,000 square yards, or 40,000 pounds, of carpet with 400,000 pounds of infill. By the time the turf is too worn to use, a lot of the "grass" blades and much of the infill has already left the field and entered our waterways. But disposal of the rest is a serious problem, since it is not currently recyclable in the U.S. Other microplastics are the result of the breakdown of larger plastic objects such as our ubiquitous plastic bags.
Unfortunately, none of the bills that would have reduced plastic pollution managed to pass the shortened session of the Maryland Legislature, even the balloon release ban, which had seemed very promising. However, a similar balloon release ban is still awaiting action in the Montgomery County Council. Please let your state and county legislators know you support reducing killer plastic pollution, and we'll try again next year.
Find your legislators at MDelect.net. Use your right to be heard!
The absurdity of wasting scarce education money on these fields has been captured by the comic strip Big Nate. In case you missed it, here's the URL. https://www.gocomics.com/bignate/2020/05/08.
Rolls of syn turf taken from a Bethesda E.S. awaiting disposal...somewhere. Photo by Amanda Farber.
Chuck Kines, Montgomery County Parks Planner/Coordinator, updated us on the thinking behind the update of the Wheaton Park Master Plan. Although a regional park, Wheaton must also function as a local park, as it lies in a densely populated area. His slide presentation, downloadable below, included maps and demographics. The Parks Department is in the early stages of planning and welcomes input from park users.
FEATURED SPEAKER Tiffany Boone-Hines, a Montgomery Blair High School student, spoke about her participation in One Montgomery Green's Clean Headwaters Program and what she has learned about the impact of plastics waste in marine environments through her hands-on study of the Northwest Branch and its tributaries.
Overall, plastic micro- and macro-pollution in waterways is a huge problem, and the Northwest Branch has its share of plastic waste. The team, using a sieve to isolate particles which they then viewed under a microscope, found tiny bits of plastic foam and synthetic fibers. Rather than rely on recycling plastics, we must reduce our use in the first place. It appears that our removal of all those plastic bottles and cups from the NWB has been beneficial, however, as the amount of particles in the water was not overwhelming. The slides from Tiffany's presentation can be viewed below.
One Montgomery Green is a local nonprofit fostering partnerships to support environmental sustainability and promote the development of a green economy.