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.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

#AlexParkLove for Valentine's Week

Share your love of Four Mile Run Park at two upcoming events to celebrate Valentine's Day weekend!

Stream Clean-up: 4pm Saturday
On Saturday afternoon, February 17, meet at the east side of the park (parking lot between baseball and softball fields at end of Commonwealth Avenue) at 4pm for a streambank clean-up using some of the new gear we received through grant funding from Dominion Energy.

Historic Geography Walk: 9:30am Sunday
Then on Sunday morning, come for a 1.7-mile walking tour to learn about some of the hidden history of lower Four Mile Run and the traces of its past: mills, attractions, disasters, and more! Meet at the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market at 9:30am in your walking shoes.

Monday, November 27, 2017

It's Giving Tuesday! Help us Enhance Four Mile Run Park.


Your support of the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation improves the park and its environs through stream clean-ups, invasive plant removal, and tree planting, and it allows us to offer activities exploring local history and nearby nature. As we continue these efforts, we are also working to improve access to water -- water fountains and bottle fillers for drinking water, as well as better access to the stream itself for recreation.
In 2017, our accomplishments have included:
  • Kick the Habit: installation of water bottle/jug fillers at the two most-used parks in Alexandria, to reduce dependence on single-use water bottles
  • Food Forest: planting 41 native fruit/nut trees in the park in partnership with TreeStewards and TD Bank
  • Clean Stream Extreme: purchase of kayaks, wading boots, and tools for more effective stream clean-ups, through grant funding from Dominion Energy
  • Trail Improvement: collaboration with the City of Alexandria on new interpretive signage and in support of the trail connector bridge

For #GivingTuesday, we ask you to contribute to the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation's ongoing work. With your involvement and support, each day Four Mile Run becomes cleaner, healthier, and more beautiful.
Donations made on Facebook might be doubled thanks to a grant from the Gates Foundation. Please help meet our goals: