Arlington, VA

An oasis of wetlands and wildlife, tucked between the office towers of Ballston and the traffic of I-66, is safe from highway construction impacts, the county’s Department of Environmental Services says.

The Ballston Beaver Pond, as it’s called, was initially designed to collect stormwater runoff from I-66. But that started to change in the 1990s when beavers moved in and dammed up the drainage system, creating a pond and wetlands to form. The Beaver Pond is now a habitat frequented by muskrat, geese, ducks, heron, egrets, redwing blackbirds, fish, turtles and the occasional beaver.

The Beaver Pond is located next to a bike trail that connects Ballston and the Custis Trail, just north of the ramp from Fairfax Drive to I-66.

Residents of the nearby Waycroft Woodlawn neighborhood have become fond of the pond and became worried when a bulldozer arrived in the area as part of the I-66 widening project. But not to fear says Aileen Winquist, of the county’s Environmental Management Bureau.

“The Beaver Pond is not in danger from the current I-66 spot improvement project and widening of westbound I-66,” Winquist said in an email.

Winquist noted that the design work on a planned restoration of the Beaver Pond will begin this fall. The restoration will clean up trash and sediment from the pond and provide better water quality treatment. There will be several public meetings held to educate residents about the project.

Although the Beaver Pond will be largely unaffected by the I-66 widening, a VDOT-owned stormwater retention pond across the street will be impacted. Construction is planned for the facility, but details about the exact nature of the work were not immediately available.

More photos after the jump.

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