Our merry band of 9, including one who rode the whole way, set out from beside the old Bonifant Family Cemetery on Pebblestone Drive, down through the meadow to the NWB trail.
Eliza Cava, Conservation Director of Nature Forward (formerly Audubon Naturalist Society) reported results from the grant-funded study she led to rate three tributary streams: the Northwest Branch, Oxon Run (in Prince George's County) and Holmes Run (in VA). She described the methodology and the ratings: the NWB rated just FAIR. All this and much much more has been put into an interactive website, the Story of Streams. And for those who enjoy the NWB, I enthusiastically draw your attention to the section on the NWB within the chapter on STREAMS. Scroll down to the NWB and then to the embedded story map by Krista Schlyer. Ms. Schlyer takes the NWB from source to confluence with pictures and history, including the Underground Railroad and Rachel Carson.
The website is a vast world of information, wherever you look--historical, geographic, and current. The statements of those who now enjoy these streams, despite their flaws, prove how important they are to the well-being of our communities. We so need them to be healthier! And the next chapter of the story of our streams remains to be written. YOU can help to make it better than the recent past chapters. Link to the overall Story of Streams website.
At the University Hills Duck Pond and Lane Manor Park cleanup in Hyattsville, cleanup leader Ben Simasek has two valuable loads 9/18/22.
And what we heard was much enthusiasm for restoring the Northwest Branch to a waterway safe for recreation, enjoying the trails, and advocating for both stream and trails maintenance.
What participants would like to know more about--in their own words:
-Water quality. [See latest monitoring results on the NNWB Homepage.]
-Anacostia watershed, pollution.
-The entire Anacostia, native plants/Invasives.
-Would love to know more about how the ICC impacted the watershed.
-I really can't narrow it down…
-Helping with pollution and becoming a weed warrior.
-I'd like to know more about the long-term history of the stream, human impact on it, and preservation/conservation attempts. I know the current state, but it'd be nice to have a wider historical picture of things.
-Can the Burnt Mills Dam and reservoir be used for sediment control by digging out what has been deposited over the decades.
-I'd like to learn more about the ideal/healthiest state for the plant and animal ecosystem - what would it look like, what species would we want to see in abundance and which ones would we hope not to see?
-We need to engage more directly with MoCo and PG governments,
-Stormwater runoff, peoples solutions are to put in hard surfaces and extend their pipes to send their stormwater [to] downhill neighbors, erosion, streams.
Serious issues have been raised here. Much for us to consider!
Meanwhile, a poll of participants showed everyone hikes the trails--and would welcome some NNWB hikes. So look for fall hikes along with our stream cleanups! Thanks so much, everyone, for your input! If you would like to add your own comments, please click here to access the Comments page.
As we crossed the NWB on a remnant of the old Bonifant Rd., all eyes were on the tree canopy. Pileated woodpecker?
Claudia uses the occasion to cleanup some of the many discarded bottles.
Leader Ben Simasek had an ample crew for this cleanup, which was the day after Earth Day. Photo by Claudia Simasek.
1. Laura Turbe leads the charge...again.
1. Cleanup leader Frank Sprtel addresses the troops. The target area is the west side of Colesville Rd. & the trib that has carved a deep gully there.
James bring down a heavy load from the high trail.
Chris shared with us the origins of the Anacostia Watershed Society, with emphasis on "watershed." The AWS focus has been on the river itself because of its dire state. But now that the goal of fishable and swimmable by 2025 is within reach, AWS is creating a plan that includes more of the upper watershed and source waters. He asked for our suggestions, since we are protectors of the major source. The discussion included the AWS position on the beltway-I-270 expansion for toll lanes, synthetic turf as a water pollutant, and the value and risks of stream restorations.
Board member Rebecca Henson, who is leading the effort to create a local museum featuring Rachel Carson, discussed her life and legacy at the March 1 Membership Meeting. Ms. Carson lived in both the NWB and Sligo Creek watersheds during her nearly three decades of residence in Montgomery County. Rebecca explored how Carson understood and wrote about the natural world, primarily with messages of wonder and caution. Your can find more information about Rachel Carson on the Friends of Sligo Creek website at https://www.friendsofsligocreek.org/home/how-we-work/sligo-story-archive/rachel-carson-lived-here/
From what a sign proclaims is a really good photo spot at Burnt Mills Special Park West, the group sets out, led by organizer and Rachel Carson enthusiast Rebecca Henson. Photo by A. Ambler, 11/13/21.
From the looks of the contents of that clear bag, someone had a beer party in the Northwest Branch woods. 11/6/21
Dr. Saravanapavan identified where the blockages are that will be removed. Green dot indicates current limit of fish migration; line indicates historic limit. (Screen shot)
Thambirajah Saravanapavan, Ph.D., P.E., Army Corps of Engineers, Project Manager, spoke to a group of nearly 30 interested NWB watershed residents. (Dr. Saravanapavan helpfully encouraged us to address him as Tham.) In response to his question, "What did we do to get here?" he said that suburban sprawl with its impervious surfaces brought us to this point, although he also mentioned the earlier goals of the Corps to control flooding, which resulted in straightening the NWB and confining it (my term) between high berms.
His second question, " How do we attempt to reverse our blunders?" is what the Corps is planning. The projects are not yet designed, and there is room for public input. His third question, how to sustain what we have managed to restore, again involves the public engagement.
Some notes of interest from the discussion:
- minute 49 etc, he mentions a public forum at which people could comment on the design. A participant urges reconnecting the NWB to the floodplain.
- min.51, he mentions relocation of some segments of the NWB.
- min. 53:45, he restates that the Army's Corps' objective is to bring back the "natural stream functions," i.e., "reverse engineering," but attention to water quality is handled elsewhere. Discussion of importance of water quality to successful fish populations.
You might also want to check the Army Corps' website for the projects. Note particularly the appendices at the right of the page, including Public Involvement.
The video recording of the presentation and Q&A is now posted, with thanks to Ed Murtagh for the conversion. Although 29 people were in attendance, including the presenter, for some reason Zoom did not capture them in the video.