Friends of Dyke Marsh is a volunteer group dedicated to preserving, restoring and enhancing Dyke Marsh, a freshwater tidal marsh in Fairfax County on the Potomac River just south of Alexandria, Virginia. The Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve is administered by the National Park Service.

What Is Dyke Marsh?

The Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve is a freshwater, tidal marsh on the Virginia side of the Potomac River in Fairfax County. It is a unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, U.S. National Park Service. For more information, visit the NPS website at

Curbing Plastic Pollution

Plastic Bottles

From plastic bottles to plastic straws, fishing lines, clothing, carpets and diapers, plastic in the environment is ubiquitous. Sarah Kollar from Ocean Conservancy and Kurt Moser from the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation discussed both the challenges of and solutions to plastic pollution in presentations at a May 19, 2022, FODM meeting. 

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FODM Reaches Out

In April 2022, the Friends of Dyke Marsh reached out to the larger community when we participated in two community events and offered materials and information about FODM and Dyke Marsh.

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Bald Eagles: Their Comeback and Challenges

“Virginia’s tidal rivers are just loaded with bald eagles,” Jeff Cooper told 210 people attending the March 2 FODM meeting and the Chesapeake Bay is the epicenter of eagle conservation. The area from Dyke Marsh south to where route 301 crosses the Rappahannock River is a bald eagle concentration area.

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Wintering Waterbirds

The Potomac River and associated habitats are prime areas for many wintering waterbird species, Greg Butcher told FODMers and friends at their October 20, 2021, meeting on Zoom.

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New Exciting Sightings

Long-tailed skipper butterfly

Keen observer and former Friends of Dyke Marsh president Ed Eder documented three new species between June and October 2021, one new to the preserve and two also new to the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

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Dyke Marsh Plants of Late Summer

On August 28, 2021, 18 plant lovers studied the diversity of Dyke Marsh’s plant life, on a Haul Road trail walk led by Alan Ford and Margaret Chatham of the Virginia Native Plant Society’s Potowmack Chapter.

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Two 2021 Bird Sightings Set Records

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

On August 28, Todd Kiraly, Steve Bielamowicz and Sherman Suter saw and reported a buff-breasted sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis) in the Hunting Creek mudflats, just north of Dyke Marsh.  This was a first sighting and a record for the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP).  This is bird number 294 for GWMP. 

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FODMers Shine in Photography Showcase

Green heron

Virginia Wildlife magazine chose the photographs of two talented members of the Friends of Dyke Marsh for the magazine’s annual Photography Showcase, published in the July-August 2021 issue:  Barbara Saffir and Jane Gamble.  Congratulations!

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Volunteers Continue Insect Surveys

Gray hairstreak butterfly

Since 2016, devoted volunteers have surveyed Dyke Marsh for butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies once a month, often observing many other insects and wildlife too.  Here are a few examples of 2021 sightings. Thank you, Rusty Moran, for your observations and photographs.

The first photo is the gray hairstreak butterfly (Strymon melinus). As its name suggests, this species of butterfly belongs to a group of butterflies with hairlike markings on the underside of their wings. Fairly common, this species lives in a variety of habitats. Its caterpillars feed on a variety of plants.

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