FODM Recognizes Volunteers

On June 19, 2022, the Friends of Dyke Marsh held an event to express appreciation to the organization's many dedicated volunteers. Here is an article about the event from the June 23, 2022 Mount Vernon Gazette/Connection newspaper. By Glenda C. Booth

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Carolyn Gamble helped volunteers check in for the event.   All photos by Bob Veltkamp

“President Ulysses S. Grant” paid a visit to Mount Vernon on June 19. Wearing a black top hat and 19th century morning coat, he joined 45 Friends of Dyke Marsh (FODM) members and elected officials on a beautifully balmy but windy Sunday afternoon at Fort Hunt Park’s Pavilion B to honor FODM volunteers.

The Friends of Dyke Marsh, a National Park Service partner organization, recognized the volunteers who help preserve and restore Dyke Marsh, from controlling invasive plants to conducting bird, butterfly and dragonfly surveys. Other volunteers conduct water quality testing, lead walks, staff tables at community events, clean up trash and write and design materials.

Volunteers planted over 4,000 native trees and plants at the native plant site. Another group has conducted a breeding bird survey every spring for over 30 years. One volunteer heads a project to save 20 pumpkin ash trees from the lethal, invasive emerald ash borer. Two other volunteers installed and maintain a wildlife camera. Dyke Marsh is a freshwater, tidal marsh on the Potomac River in northern Mount Vernon district. The preserve is a unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, a national park.

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Charles Cuvelier, Superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Charles Cuvelier, Superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, told the group, “Your voice matters,” applauding environmental stewardship and partner groups efforts. “You make a big difference,” he emphasized, and reported that NPS will continue the marsh restoration project.  

Electeds Weighed In

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Eighth district Congressman Don Beyer.

Eighth district Congressman Don Beyer said, “I read the Friends of Dyke Marsh newsletter cover to cover.” He called Dyke Marsh a “great gift” and said that its restoration will “make up for past mistakes.” He is seeking federal funds to pave the south parkway, he reported.

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State Senator Adam Ebbin.

State Senator Adam Ebbin lauded the group as “vital partners” and for 46 years of service. He cited his support for bills to discourage the sale and use of invasive plants.

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Virginia Delegate Paul Krizek.

Virginia Delegate Paul Krizek compared FODM’s efforts to control invasive plants to advancing legislation in the General Assembly. “It’s like trying to push back the tide,” he said, explaining that he successfully passed a bill to discourage invasive plants, a watered-down version from his introduced bill. He vowed to accelerate the phaseout of polystyrene or Styrofoam products. Styrofoam is a top item found during trash cleanups. When Styrofoam breaks into tiny pieces, birds and other wildlife mistake them for food and these products take years to biodegrade.

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Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck.

Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck told the crowd, “Global warming is here,” and described some of the county’s efforts to address climate change’s local impacts. “Fairfax County needs to be a leader,” he said. “It’s all about how we protect ourselves.” Supervisor Storck is leading several county environmental initiatives, including an energy and climate action plan (CECAP), a resiliency plan and incorporating natural landscaping on county properties.

First National Park in the World

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President Ulysses S. Grant, portrayed by Dwane Starlin.

In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a bill to create the first national park not just in the United States but in the world, Yellowstone. Grant, portrayed by Dwane Starlin, told the group that in the mid-1800s, some people were alarmed by the widespread slaughter of elks, antelopes, buffaloes and mule deer in what is today’s Yellowstone National Park. After Ferdinand Hayden led a scientific team to Yellowstone Basin and reported on the stunning natural wonders there, Grant was convinced that the 42nd Congress should protect the area. Today’s park has over 10,000 thermal features that attract four million visitors a year. “Vandals will despoil it,” preservation advocates argued in 1872. Opponents thought that if the federal government “locked up” the land the regional economy would suffer.

Recounting his personal history, Grant explained that when he was born in 1822, as was the custom then, the family held a get-together to choose a name for the newborn, a gathering that became a lively debate. Ultimately, family members drew names out of hat and chose Hiram Ulysses. Eventually he endured nicknames like “Useless.” 

Grant went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and there met future Civil War notables like William Tecumseh Sherman and George B. McClellan. Graduating 21st out of 39, Grant weighed 117 pounds and had grown six inches since enrolling. In 1861 he joined the Union Army and at the behest of President Abraham Lincoln, became the successful commanding general of the Union armies in the Civil War.

Grant wrote that he had “no fondness for war except as a means for peace.” His 1864 presidential campaign slogan was “Let’s Have Peace,” Starlin said.

Dwane Starlin is a musician-actor and licensed tour guide in Washington, D. C. He also portrays writer Mark Twain, broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite, 20th century lawyer Clarence Darrow and others. Visit

The author is the president of the Friends of Dyke Marsh.

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The Friends of Dyke Marsh honored long-time FODM officer and volunteer Dorothy McManus.
Glenda Booth (on right) is president of the group.


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Congressman Don Beyer discussed saving Yellowstone with "President Ulysses S. Grant."


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Khloe Krizek, Sen. Adam Ebbin and Del. Paul Krizek.


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President Grant and GW Parkway Superintendent Charles Cuvelier.


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Matthew Smith and Dorothy McManus drew tickets for door prizes as President Grant looked on.




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