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President's Message

Fall 2017

President Glenda BoothGlenda Booth
FODM President

     Dyke Marsh restoration took two big steps forward in September.  On September 12, the Fairfax County Wetlands Board approved the National Park Service’s (NPS) permit application (see bottom of page 1).  Several FODMers gave compelling, supportive testimony (see entire article page 5).  On September 30, the Corps of Engineers awarded a $10.12 million contract to build a 1,500-foot breakwater in the south marsh, the first step of restoration.  NPS must get several other permits and the next hearing is December 12 in Newport News.  Visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission at www.mrc.virginia.gov for more information. 
    Several times, since 1959, Congress has supported restoration and FODM has advocated for restoration since the organization’s founding in 1976.  Restoring Dyke Marsh has had broad community, government and national support.  We hope that this process proceeds and that restoration will start soon.  The U.S. Geological Survey predicts that Dyke Marsh will disappear by 2035 without action.
    You Can Help Restore Native Habitat
invasiveFODM is working with NPS to clear many non-native plants, like the porcelainberry vine that smothers many valuable native plants.
Photo by Glenda Booth
    Don’t be alarmed by the cleared area along the Haul Road.  We are undertaking a demonstration project with NPS to address the massive invasive plant infestation and we hope to plant some native plants in that area.  Both sides of the Haul Road are overrun with invasives like porcelainberry vines, English ivy, Japanese stiltgrass and more. Our goal is to restore this section with native plants that support the birds, insects and wildlife with which they co-evolved. We also hope that some native plants will naturally return.  We will need volunteer and perhaps financial support for this project as we seek a nature preserve with more ecological integrity.
    Thanks to Board members Trudi Hahn and Ned Stone and several NPSers, we received a $2,000 grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation that will support part of this work, including three activities:  (1) a workshop and site visit to introduce teachers to Dyke Marsh's challenges; (2) a field day for high school students to learn about possible archaeological sites and processes necessary to disturb soil; and (3) planting in the cleared area described above.  We hope this project will bring teachers and youngsters to Dyke Marsh, especially those who may have had little experience in the natural environment; stimulate an interest in science, conservation and stewardship of natural resources; and enhance understanding of how people impact their natural surroundings.
ash inspectionFODM is supporting work to treat and save 16 pumpkin ash trees (Fraxinus profunda) in Dyke Marsh. Photo by Glenda Booth    Saving Trees, Fingers Crossed
    There’s also some cautious good news about our pumpkin ash project. Led by Robert Smith, we have worked with NPS/GWMP since 2015 to try to save some of the pumpkin ash trees (Fraxinus profunda) that are being killed by the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), an invasive insect.  We treated 16 trees and this fall, all of the treated trees leafed out and all six of the female trees produced seeds.  Most of the other ash trees near the treatment site are dead.
    After we commented on the disturbing tree-cutting over the last year along the parkway, George Washington Parkway (GWMP) officials have instituted a new procedure to provide a natural resource management staffer to accompany a certified arborist to assess the health of trees that might pose safety risks.  Also, at our urging, GWMP staff agreed to stop mowing vegetation along the Haul Road, especially the part east of the “dogleg” where we planted over 300 native plants and shrubs.  Thank you, NPS!
    Meanwhile, challenges loom.  National parks are in tough competition for federal dollars and staff.  Dyke Marsh restoration is not assured.  Off-leash dogs are all too common.  Non-native plants run rampant along both sides of the Haul Road trail, but hats off to those dedicated volunteers who try to "tame the beasts."
    We will soldier on and continue to advocate for a healed, healthy Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve.  Remember this sage advice from primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall:  “The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”

Glenda C. Booth      

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