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Friends of Dyke Marsh

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Spring at Dyke Marsh

 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.
Read here for more about FODM.

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Membership Meetings

2015 Schedule
Meetings are held on
Wednesdays 7:30 p.m. -
September 16, November 18

Norma Hoffman Visitor Center
Huntley Meadows Park
3701 Lockheed Boulevard
Alexandria, VA 22306.

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Site updated by:
  T.D. Hobart

International Attention to Dyke Marsh

     On April 14, 2015, FODM and the National Park Service led a group of Iraqi officials and scientists on a walking tour of Dyke Marsh. FODM is honored to have had these visitors.
     FODM president Glenda Booth has written an article that was published in the April 22, 2015 Mount Vernon Voice newspaper. Click here to view the photos and read the entire article.

Dyke Marsh is "Greening Up"

    West Dyke Marsh
    Pickerel weed
     Snapping turtles are sunning, the spatterdock and pickerelweed are blooming and the marsh is "greening up." This is a photograph of the western part of the preserve, west of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, stretching to the Potomac River in the background, an area busy with beavers, dragonflies, snapping turtles, green frogs, wood ducks, red-winged blackbirds, kingfishers and more. This photograph was taken on June 18 from the eleventh floor of one of the River Towers' buildings.
     Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) is common in Dyke Marsh. Clusters of violet-blue flowers grow atop large spikes, attracting bees and butterflies. Photos by Glenda Booth.

Sediment Pollution is Fouling DM West

   Sediment pollution
   

Sediment pollution.

    Dyke Marsh west
   

Normal conditions.

     Huge amounts of orangey-brown sediment pollution are flowing into the western part of the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, especially during storm events. This June 27, 2015 picture taken by Laura Sebastianelli and this video capture the serious degradation underway.
     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that sediment "degrades the quality of water for drinking, wildlife and the land . . . prevents animals from seeing food . . . prevents natural vegetation from growing . . . disrupts the natural food chain by destroying the habitat where the smallest stream organisms live and causing massive declines in fish populations. . . and can clog fish gills, affect fish egg and larvae development . . . . ," among other harms.
     Fairfax County officials maintain that the major sources of the sediment are two highly degraded and unstable stormwater outfalls in Mount Vernon District Park, uphill from and west of Dyke Marsh and west of Fort Hunt Road. Fortunately, the county is designing a stabilization project, but project managers say there is no funding to actually do the construction.
     Given the increasing frequency and severity of storms and degradation underway, the Friends of Dyke Marsh have asked the county to expedite this project. Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova has said that the county will apply for a grant to fund the project.
     FODM hopes others will weigh in with county officials.

Nature's Free Services

     Nature provides free services, from filtering water pollutants to providing medicines. You can read all about it in this article by FODM President Glenda Booth in Virginia Wildlife magazine.

Save These Dates - Forests and Phenology

     Here is a brief preview of upcoming FODM meetings:

     What Is a Healthy Forest? Join us on September 16, 7:30 p.m., when Joe Marx will discuss what a healthy mid-Atlantic forest might look like, whether pre-settlement forests were in fact healthy and what chance such a forest would have in our era of invasive aliens and global warming.
     Mr. Marx is an instructor in geology and forest ecology in the Natural History Field Studies program sponsored by the Graduate School USA and the Audubon Naturalist Society.
     The meeting is cosponsored by the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, the Fairfax Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists and the Fairfax County Tree Commission. It will be at the Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center. If you use a GPS device to find the park, enter the park's address, 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria, VA 22306, not the park's name.

   Common grackle
   

This common grackle is gorging on fall cankerworm caterpillars in an Alexandria backyard in May 2015. Photo by Paula Sullivan.

     Nature's Timing - On November 18, LoriAnne Burnette from the National Phenology Network will give a presentation on phenology, nature's exquisite timing. Warblers migrate through or raise their young when caterpillars emerge and become a major food source. Red knots, migratory shorebirds, stop over from South America in Delaware Bay to fatten up for the next leg of their migration, when horseshoe crabs come to the shore and lay eggs. "The study of how the biological world times natural events is called phenology," says the Network. The meeting is cosponsored by the Fairfax Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists and will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center. If you use a GPS device to find the park, enter the park’s address, 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria, VA 22306, not the park’s name.

Dyke Marsh Restoration, Plan and Funds Available - Time to Get Going

   Alternative C
   

Alternative C, courtesy of NPS.
Click photo to enlarge.

     National Park Service (NPS) efforts to restore Dyke Marsh are moving slowly along, despite broad support from the public and many government officials, including the U.S. Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell. NPS has completed the Restoration and Long-term Management Plan, in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), available online. The plan calls for full restoration and is titled "Alternative C" in the EIS, an approach that FODM supports.
     Funding is available to complete around 80 percent of the plan. On October 25, 2013, Secretary Jewell came to the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and announced the award of $24.9 million grant from Interior for restoration.
   Flyer
Also, in 2013, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority provided $2.5 million in mitigation funds to finance the first phase of restoration, construction of a promontory on the south end of Dyke Marsh.
     The science is done. The plan is in place. The funds are available. It's time for NPS to get moving.
     In this document, we outline why Dyke Marsh is unstable and could be gone in 20-30 years, as documented by the landmark 2010 U.S. Geological Survey study. We also provide reasons for restoration and an example of how the serious loss of habitat has likely been a factor in the declining numbers of the marsh wren. FODM appreciates the talented graphics work by Amy O'Donnell who designed this brochure.

Sunday Morning Bird Walks

Northern CardinalThe weekly Sunday morning bird walks are held every Sunday all year. Meet at 8 a.m. in the south parking lot of the Belle Haven picnic area. Walks are led by experienced birders and all are welcome.

Friends of Dyke Marsh, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Copyright 2015 Friends of Dyke Marsh, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last Revised: June 30, 2015