The Ballston Beaver Pond might become Ballston Wetland Park, a more befitting name since the beavers have moved on.
The human-made pond, originally built to collect stormwater runoff and trash from I-66, is undergoing a $4 million renovation. With that makeover and the fact that the beavers have taken their dam-building skills elsewhere, the pond and park are set to get a new name.
Earlier this year, residents were given the opportunity to recommend a new name for the park.
In July, four finalists were revealed:
- Ballston Wetlands, as a way to highlight the wetland feature.
- Crossroads Wetland Park, to recognize nearby Ball’s Crossroads, which was one of the more populated areas in the county in the mid-19th century and the inspiration for Ballston’s name
- Thaddeus Lowe Park, to honor the Union Army’s Chief Aeronaut who performed aerial reconnaissance from his hot air balloon near this location.
- Wetlands Vista Park, because of the natural feature and the new vista platform that’s being built at the park.
Last week, Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) voted to move forward on a slight variation of the top vote-getter — “Ballston Wetland Park.”
“As the County was renovating the pond to be more of a destination for nature lovers and to better support its important wetland function, it seemed appropriate to update its name,” Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson Susan Kalish told ARLnow. “While the area does not have beavers, which generally migrate from pond to pond, it is a wetland and it is in Ballston.”
The Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee is planning to vote on the proposed name either next month or October. Then, it will go to the Parks and Recreation Commission later in the fall. If the recommended new name passes both bodies, it will then head to the County Board for a vote likely in October or November.
The reason for the change is that the beavers have gone bye-bye.
The pond was originally built back in 1980 to collect stormwater runoff from I-66. However, in the 1990s, and to the surprise of county officials, beavers started moving in — along with other wildlife like muskrats, geese, heron, egrets, redwing blackbirds, fish, and turtles.
The beavers proceeded to do what they do best, which is building dams and messing up drainage systems. The dams compromised water quality, prevented certain vegetation from growing, and essentially defeated the park’s purpose of being for stormwater runoff.
However, the beavers have since moved on.
The county began planning renovations back in 2011, but it took eight years to acquire all the easements. Then, right when construction and draining were about to start, the pandemic delayed the project again. Finally, in December 2021, work began on renovating the pond and park.
As part of that work, the county is installing beaver baffles as a means of keeping the busy mammals out.
The county is also adding updated trash control devices, turtle basking stations, interpretive signs, and a new boardwalk on the eastern side of the pond.
With work ongoing, the bike trail on the east side is currently closed. A temporary detour is in place along the south side of the pond, that connects Washington Blvd to the Custis Trail.
The work is expected to wrap up next summer.
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