Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Spring2Action and lend us a hand.

Spring2Action is Alexandria's day of giving for nonprofit organizations working across our community. We encourage all Alexandria residents to participate through April 25, in support of the many great organizations serving our community.

Please consider a small contribution to the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation as part of your Spring2Action giving. We have a participation goal of 100 donors, giving at any level.

Lend your support at:

The Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation formed in 2016 to foster the preservation, beautification, improvement, maintenance, and enjoyment of Four Mile Run Park. Our mission is to engage and educate the public, and to maintain the trail system and natural lands around lower Four Mile Run to improve Four Mile Run Park, and to foster respect and stewardship for this unique urban ecosystem and its natural, historic, and recreational resources.

Our efforts have included:
  • Frequent nature and history walks/tours in Four Mile Run Park
  • Stream clean-ups and invasive vine removal
  • Citizen science: bird counts, frog call surveys, wildlife photography
  • Tree planting

Our next big project idea is a kayak/canoe launch on Four Mile Run. Improved access for non-motorized watercraft supports healthy active recreation in the remarkable ‘nearby nature’ of Four Mile Run. Your support during Spring2Action will help support this and other Four Mile Run Conservatory projects to enhance Four Mile Run and its value to city residents.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Join in the City Nature Challenge!

Do you love observing nature? Share your observations as a citizen scientist!
The 2018 City Nature Challenge is a great way to get involved. From April 27-30, the DC metro area competes with more than 60 cities worldwide to observe and identify nearby nature. It’s easy to participate: take a picture of a wild plant or animal in your neighborhood, park, or school and share it with the free iNaturalist app. Even if you don’t know what it is you’ve found, the app will help you identify it.

Participate on your own or in a group outing with other nature lovers. And once you’ve learned how fun it is, you’ll be able to make and share new observations anytime, anywhere. In support of the City Nature Challenge, we are hosting several group walks in Four Mile Run Park this weekend to observe and document what is living there: frogs, bats, birds, plants, anything we can find! See our events calendar for details.

You can help document the nature that lives in Four Mile Run Park, add to a global biodiversity research, and help the Washington DC metro area win!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Spring Paddling at Four Mile Run

Wood Ducks in the marsh in early spring. Photo: D. Howell
Lured by the warm temperature and sunshine and the many signs of spring, I dropped in at Four Mile Run this morning in a kayak. Though the uneven concrete ramp at the end of Commonwealth Avenue isn’t the greatest launch spot, at high tide it is workable, and it is only a few minutes from anywhere in Alexandria (keep an eye on this website, though, as we are working on a project to install a proper kayak/canoe launch). I like to paddle at Four Mile Run fairly often, though usually I put in at Daingerfield Island.

Paddling up the Hume Spring tributary and into the central marsh from the Run, I hear a fusion of city and nature sounds: the splash of turtles vanishing below the water surface upon my approach, the sudden flapping of Wood Duck wings, the songs of small birds and the distinctive trill of the Red-winged Blackbird, the rapid knocking of woodpeckers above. And the whine of pumps at the Arlington wastewater plant, the traffic noises from Route 1, the thud of far-off helicopter blades, a periodic roar of jet engines. Joggers with strollers, voices speaking different languages, the whizzing gears of bicycles.

An Osprey powers by overhead with an Alewife in its talons—Ospreys, recently returned from their wintering grounds in South America, and the Alewife, a migratory herring that comes up river to spawn after reaching maturity in the North Atlantic. It is a sight unique to early spring; the Osprey will hang around until fall, but the Alewife will be out to sea before long—well, not this one, I suppose.

That there are so many fishermen and women lining the banks attests to the abundance of aquatic life. They don’t seem to be catching very much, though. A second Osprey plunges to the water and comes up fishless. The fishing may be slow, but to be on the water this warm spring morning is glorious. Lower Four Mile Run hasn’t looked (or been) in this fine a condition in at least 50 years, probably more like 80.

There are natural places farther afield that may be in danger of being loved to death, but there is no worry of that here: Four Mile Run is being loved to life. Soon it will all be abloom. Four Mile Run Park, on either side of the Run, should be on your destination list this spring.