Sunday, May 15, 2022

Fish Kill in Tidal Four Mile Run

Anyone visiting lower Four Mile Run in the last several days should have noticed many dead fish, large and small, along the streambank and floating out in the water, the result of a pollution incident that occurred some time Thursday, May 12. Here is what we know at this time:

Early Friday morning one of our volunteers reported seeing dead fish, and we immediately notified Arlington County, Alexandria City, and state and regional authorities that there had been an incident. Although at the time it seemed possible it was related to stormwater runoff overnight, an eyewitness reported seeing fish swimming sideways on the surface on Thursday. Although turtles, waterfowl, and snakes appear not to have been affected, it seems that all fish that were in the tidal portion of the Run were harmed, and thousands died: minnows, bluegill, catfish, gizzard shad, carp (many large, easily 15 pounds in size). At the present time the incident is still being investigated, and we will update this post as more information comes available.

As of Sunday, live fish of several species were again observed in the Run, so whatever pollutant caused the sudden die-off has either dissipated or washed out with the tide. If you noticed anything unusual, or if you can help pinpoint the timing of the incident, please contact us!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

May Happenings

While the end of April was busy with Alexandria Spring2ACTion and the City Nature Challenge, there's a lot coming up this month at Four Mile Run, as well! The kayak clean-up season is starting, and thanks to the recent work of volunteers and US Coast Guard Auxiliary members, our equipment has been inspected, the kayak barn has been cleaned out and leveled, and we are ready to go. While the May 7 kayak clean-up was canceled due to rain, there is another one scheduled for Saturday afternoon the 14th (register here).

On Sunday the 15th, our pop-up nature center returns to the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market with the expertise of master naturalists and a theme of Rocks Rock!

Updates on the Glebe Electric Transmission Project and the Four Mile Run Dredging Project will be presented by Dominion Energy and Arlington County / Alexandria City in the coming weeks, and we are co-sponsoring a May 19 presentation on Plastic Pollution with the Friends of Dyke Marsh, to include findings from our microplastic study at Four Mile Run.

And on Saturday morning, May 21, we are pleased to be collaborating with EcoAction Arlington and WUSA9 TV on a land-based clean-up on both sides of the Run during WUSA9's #EnvironmentMatters clean-up day.

We hope you'll want to participate in some or all of these great events. And if you're in the park, keep an eye out for the Baltimore Oriole, which has reportedly returned to the wetland again this year!

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Bridges of Lower Four Mile Run: Updates

Bridge work will start soon at Four Mile Run, at several important crossings: West Glebe Road, Mount Vernon Avenue, and the southern trail bridge in Four Mile Run Park. Here's what's happening:

Closed trail bridge
The trail bridge, near the baseball and softball fields, has been closed since late Summer 2021 due to decking failure and structural damage caused by vehicular use of the bridge. The hole in the decking first appeared last spring, and subsequent analysis by structural engineers indicated the bridge is unsafe. Further engineering analysis will determine whether the existing bridge abutments are in good enough condition to allow only the span to be replaced.

Both the West Glebe Road and the Mount Vernon Avenue bridges were built in the 1950's and they are now urgently in need of replacement. Both bridges will have widened bridge decks that better accommodate bicycle and pedestrian lanes, and both will have art enhancements designed by Vicki Scuri from Siteworks. The West Glebe bridge project is currently at 50% design, and construction is expected to begin this summer. The span will be replaced over the existing abutments, with construction sequenced such that during construction, lane reductions will keep one side of the bridge open for vehicular and bicycle/pedestrian crossing while the other side of the bridge is removed and replaced.

The Mount Vernon Avenue bridge project will begin as soon as the West Glebe project is completed, and will proceed in a similar manner, with lane reductions maintaining the crossing for vehicles and bicycles/pedestrians as the bridge deck is replaced. As the design process begins, community input is sought on what the art enhancements could be: railings, surface textures/colors, lighting, etc. Share your ideas on the project site by April 3!


West Glebe bridge concept
Rendering of the West Glebe bridge showing art enhancements

Monday, March 7, 2022

Spring on the Wing

Alewife carried by Osprey
With warm weather in the last week or so, you might be feeling spring in the air, and although the wetland still has the look of winter with the brown-gray-tan look of dormant vegetation, you'll find early signs of spring as migratory animals appear. Osprey, returning from wintering in South America, have been seen fishing in the Run since late February, and with migratory river herring making their way from the ocean inland to spawn, we have the only-in-early-spring opportunity to see them together overhead, as in this picture taken Saturday by Todd Kiraly.

Numerous red-winged blackbirds can be seen and heard all around the wetland, and especially in the interior marsh, and this week there have been many raptors: red-shouldered hawk, Cooper's hawk, and bald eagle, for starters. Other birds will be passing through soon as the annual spring migration really gets underway. Without all the spring foliage, right now is a great time to observe wildlife at Four Mile Run Park.

Help welcome our feathered visitors this month with our land-based volunteer litter clean-ups Sunday mornings March 13 and 20. More to come in April!

Monday, January 31, 2022

February Fun at Four Mile Run

Lots going on in February, with nature and history walks, clean-ups, and a chance to test your mettle at nature trivia. See the Events Calendar for details, and have a heart for Four Mile Run Park this Valentine's Day -- save the dates!