Arlington County residents can register now to receive a free tree for their homes.
One tree is available per home in the county’s annual free tree distribution. Anyone who lives in a multi-family property like an apartment building, however, must contact TreeStewards.org for assistance in getting more trees.
“The trees being distributed are generally termed ‘whips’ in the nursery trade and are in two-gallon containers and ranging 2-4 feet in size,” organizers wrote. “You should carefully consider the spot you intend to plant your tree.”
The distribution will take place next month in two places:
- Saturday, October 14, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Arlington County nursery (4240 S. Four Mile Run Drive)
- Wednesday, October 18, 5-8 p.m. at the Quincy Park parking lot (1021 N. Quincy Street)
Photo via Arlington County
A group of local residents have launched a petition against an Arlington County plan to remove more than 80 trees at the Donaldson Run Nature Area.
The nature area, part of Donaldson Run Park at 4020 30th Street N. between Military Road and N. Upton Street, is set to have a section of its stream restored early next year.
The project on Tributary B is designed to help prevent erosion by creating a new natural stream and re-connecting it with the flood plain. Opponents said the project would remove 81 trees, endanger another 52 and remove vegetation along 1,400 feet of Donaldson Run. Work to restore the stream’s Tributary A was completed in 2006.
But a group of residents have launched an online campaign against what it described as the “rapid loss of trees on public and private lands” and urged the county to reconsider.
“The Donaldson Run Tributary B [stream] restoration project, costing taxpayers over $1 million, sacrifices broad local natural environmental benefits for a narrow distant storm water purpose,” the petition reads. “This project must be put on hold until… comprehensive technical and cost/benefit reviews can be completed that include better alternatives that use the money most effectively to meet all the community’s goals.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had received 14 signatures.
Opponents of the project will host an event on Sunday, September 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the nature area to hand out free saplings to “expand our urban forest.”
Photo No. 4 via petition, photo No. 5 via Google Maps.
Residents can have their food waste composted by the county as part of a pilot program launched earlier this month.
From 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday, any county resident can take their food scraps to the Department of Environmental Services’ Solid Waste Bureau at 4300 29th Street S. in Shirlington, near the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s headquarters.
There, the scraps are being collected in two green carts at the bottom of the scale house, at the top of the Trades Center hill. Staff will be on hand to assist with disposal.
Per a county fact sheet on the program, the following food scraps are being accepted:
- food soiled paper (paper towels, napkins and paper plates)
- coffee grounds, filters and tea bags
- breads, grains and pasta
- meat and seafood (including bones)
- plate scrapings
Collected scraps are processed at the county’s Earth Products Recycling Yard using a composter. The compost that is produced will then be given to the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation to use in landscaping projects and to amend topsoil in public spaces.
DES staff said they launched the pilot program to “address increasing interest from residents to manage food disposal through a more environmentally conscious process.”
A local co-op formed earlier this year to drive down the cost of home solar installation selected two providers to install the panels.
A spokesman for the co-op said the two firms were selected because of their competitive pricing, quality components and warranties available.
According to Solar Power Rocks, a firm that provides guidance on solar power for all 50 states and D.C., installing a 5-kW solar panel system on a house in Virginia can cost homeowners just over $18,000. Over the course of 25 years, the firm estimates it will have produced $16,000 in income from energy savings. Co-op members can save up to 20 percent on installation costs as they buy as a group in bulk.
The chosen installers will now develop personalized proposals for each co-op member, who will then review that proposal and decide if the panels are suitable for them. Being a co-op member does not mean a commitment to buying panels. New members are being accepted until October 1 from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County.
“We’re are excited to be working with Greater Arlington residents to help them go solar at a great price” Niko Eckart, owner of Independent Solar Solutions, said in a statement.
“We’re incredibly honored to be part of this co-op and are excited to see the solar momentum build in Northern Virginia,” Jonathan Gellings, a solar analyst at Sigora Solar, added.
The group is partnered with Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods, the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment to help educate and recruit members about going solar. Co-op members can save up to 20 percent off the cost of going solar by doing so in a group.
More than 80 people have already gone solar in similar schemes, and the current cohort said the process of finding providers was helped by working as a group.
“As someone who has considered installing [solar panels] several times over the past few years, I can say with certitude that working through the co-op was far easier than interviewing installers on my own,” said co-op member Jessica Olson in a statement. “The co-op is a great way to make an informed decision on a significant investment. We’re really excited to work with our installer and see how much I can save with my system.”
Kenmore Middle School was one of six sites in Virginia selected to have a solar panel installed on its roof as part of the Solar for Students program, which encourages hands-on learning about clean energy.
A 1.2 kilowatt panel will be installed on the school’s roof to convert sunlight into electricity, with real-time data displays to help classroom learning. It is estimated the panel will generate enough electricity to power 18 desktop computers, or 15 42-inch LED TVs.
In addition to the panel, the program comes with technical support, training for teachers and educational materials that will enable students to monitor, track and learn about solar power production.
In June 2015, Dominion Energy partnered with the nonprofit National Energy Education Development Project to launch the program. The program is for Virginia students, teachers and communities in areas served by Dominion, and gives them hands-on experience with solar power.
Kenmore will share the $150,000 solar panel grant with schools across Virginia and the Children’s Museum in Richmond, having been selected from 35 applicants statewide. Jeff Politzer, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) teacher at Kenmore, helped apply for the grant.
“We started the process months ago and then we had to meet with people form Arlington County,” he said. “We did a site supervise, we did a walk through. We wanted to see what location would be best.”
Around 750 students gathered in the school’s auditorium today to learn about their gift.
Scott Reamy, external affairs manager at Dominion Energy, built up to the announcement by having the students guess what the surprise was.
“I want to see if you all can figure it out,” he said. “It was created in 1958. It’s been to space and back.”
“Solar panels!” shouted a student in the back of the room.
The solar panel has not yet been installed at the school. At the event, officials had no further information on when the school can expect its new panel to be added.
(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Arlington County just announced that it has joined other counties, cities, businesses and colleges in signing an open letter pledging to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
President Trump announced last week he will withdraw the United States from the pact to help preserve American jobs and avoid placing heavy burdens on the country’s taxpayers. The decision brought swift condemnation from local elected officials.
County leaders joined on Monday (June 5) an open letter to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement entitled, “We Are Still In.” The letter promises that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will continue, regardless of federal policy.
“Arlington stands with communities across our nation and around the globe who recognize that climate change is real and that we must, both on the local and on the global level, meet its adverse effects with strong, effective action,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “Just as we joined the Compact of Mayors in 2015 and agreed to set goals for reductions in greenhouse gases, so do we join the effort today of local communities that are pledging to uphold the Paris Agreement, even if the federal government does not.”
In light of President Trump’s decision, the County Board will consider a resolution at its June 17 meeting reaffirming Arlington’s commitment to combating climate change.
In a press release, the county touted its efforts already in the fight against climate change:
Arlington County adopted a forward-thinking Community Energy Plan (CEP) in June 2013, as an element of our Comprehensive Plan. The award-winning plan is a long-term vision for transforming how Arlington generates, uses and distributes energy. Its goal-setting and methods of achievement are consistent with the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda and the Paris Accord. Arlington’s CEP aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2050, and greenhouse gas emissions already have fallen 18 percent in Arlington between 2007 and 2015.
In 2015, Arlington signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Energy and Climate, sponsored by the Compact of Mayors – open to any city or town in the world willing to meet a series of requirements culminating in the creation of a full climate action and adaptation plan.
In 2012, Arlington exceeded our goal of reducing government-wide energy usage by 10 percent, using the year 2000 as a baseline. Currently, we’re competing in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge to reduce municipal building energy usage by 20 percent by 2020.
Our Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) helps our community make smart decisions about energy and supports individual actions that improve and sustain Arlington’s quality of life. County government buys more than 30 percent of its electricity as certified green power and buys carbon offsets against 100 percent of its natural gas use. Arlington is home to Discovery Elementary, the largest “net zero energy” elementary school east of the Mississippi River.
At its meeting in June, the County Board will consider a resolution reaffirming Arlington’s commitment to combating climate change and to the goals of our Community Energy Plan.
Arlington will continue to work to make our County more prosperous, healthful, safe and secure through its efforts to rethink energy and protect the environment.
For more information about Arlington’s environmental initiatives and efforts to reduce energy usage and energy costs, visit the County website.
The Arlington County Board will consider a plan to make a stretch of Williamsburg Blvd a so-called “Green Street” at its meeting Saturday.
The section of Williamsburg Blvd, between 33rd Road N. and 35th Street N., would have new trees added as well as two 1,000-square-foot rain gardens in the median. The project is intended to improve local water quality and address permit requirements as part of the county’s Green Streets project for stormwater management.
County staff estimated that installing the trees and rain gardens will treat runoff from 2.2 acres of impervious surfaces that do not allow rainwater to soak in. That water then runs off into the Little Pimmit Run watershed, which leads to the Chesapeake Bay, with Arlington under instructions along with other jurisdictions to reduce pollution in the bay.
If the County Board approves the plan, a contract worth an initial $1.23 million would be awarded, with $246,000 in contingency.
County staff recommends approval of the project, which is being coordinated with the second phase of improvements to Old Dominion Drive. Construction is set to start in June or July.
A new local co-op has been formed to drive down the cost of home solar installation.
The Greater Arlington Solar Co-op is holding two free information sessions this week, in Arlington and Alexandria, to educate the public about solar and the benefits of joining their group. Co-op members can save up to 20 percent off the cost of going solar by doing so in a group.
“We’re forming this co-op to make saving money with solar energy as simple as possible,” said Chris Somers, community energy specialist at AIRE, in a statement. “Working with the group helps members learn about the technology so they feel confident in their decision to go solar.”
Joining the group is not a commitment to purchase solar panels. Once the group is large enough, it will solicit bids from local installers and select the best proposal for the group. The chosen installer will then develop personalized proposals for each co-op member, who review the plan.
The information sessions are taking place Wednesday at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd Suite 210) and Thursday at The Pavilion at Mark Center (5708 Merton Court) in Alexandria, both starting at 7 p.m.
The organization announced today that it is launching its Ready for 100 energy awareness campaign in Arlington and Alexandria. Fifteen U.S. cities including San Diego have already committed to 100 percent clean energy and Arlington has already vowed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
“We strongly support a goal of 100% clean energy,” said Elenor Hodges, Executive Director of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, in a press release. “Arlington County has already set a high bar for Virginia, but we can do even better. I think this is an effort many residents will get behind.”
The price of clean energy has dropped significantly over the past few years, with solar energy costs alone dropping by 80 percent, according to the Sierra Club. The solar industry has expanded as well, with over 200,000 people working with solar energy, nearly twice as many as the coal mining industry.
“By transitioning to 100 percent clean energy, our city could prevent thousands of asthma attacks and dozens of premature deaths every year,” said Dr. Samantha Ahdoot, an Alexandria-based pediatrician. “This would be a big step in the right direction toward allowing our kids to breathe easier.”
According to a study by scientists from Stanford, transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy would save the average American family $260 per year in energy costs and an additional $1,500 in health care costs.
The Sierra Club is rallying local residents — including students — to urge local officials “to boost the local economy and save families money by leading the way to 100 percent clean energy.” From the press release:
The electricity sector has embarked on an unstoppable shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fueled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future. The stay issued by the Supreme Court on the Clean Power Plan cannot reverse that trend. Nor can it dampen the overwhelming public support for action on climate change and clean energy.
“Our current dependence on fossil fuels means that my generation will be dealing with the impact of climate change for our entire lives,” said Helene Turvene a junior at Washington-Lee High School. “A commitment now to 100% renewable energy not only will help to begin reversing those impacts, but it will position our community for a more sustainable future. Students want to know that local leaders are acting with us, and future generations, in mind.”
Photo courtesy Sierra Club
The so-called backpack mail for parents of elementary and middle school students is being phased out in favor of an electronic system, following a successful pilot program, according to APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.
The system, called Peachjar, is specifically designed for schools. It sends electronic flyers to parents’ email inboxes, thus cutting costs and staff time that would otherwise be spent making paper copies and distributing them.
The new system is being rolled out to all elementary and middle schools “over the next few weeks,” Bellavia said.
Families can request that they keep receiving paper copies and paper flyers will be posted on school bulletin boards. Otherwise, there are a number of options for electronic delivery.
“Parents can access the flyers via weekly email notifications they receive, by checking the school’s website, or accessing flyers on the APS Mobile App,” said Bellavia. “Families like the Peachjar option because electronic copies stay online for at least 30 days, and are linked directly to the organization’s website where they can access more information or directly sign up for programs electronically, which is more convenient than keeping track of paper copies and following up on advertised services.”
The pilot program took place at six elementary schools and one middle school last fall and of the families surveyed about it, 86 percent said they wanted to keep the new system instead of returning to backpack mail, according to APS. Nonprofit organizations and PTAs also participate in backpack mail and APS received an enthusiastic response from them.
“More than 100 nonprofit organizations who participate in our backpack mail program were surveyed, and only one respondent indicated a desire to return to backpack mail,” said Bellavia. “APS, schools and PTAs can use the service for free, and nonprofit organizations pay a nominal fee that is less costly than making copies, to distribute their flyers electronically to families. Our PTAs are excited about the service because they can use it for free to distribute their flyers, saving time and the expense of printing paper copies.”
“This program supports the APS commitment to its core value of sustainability, and many families, community members and staff have urged APS to find a paperless (environmentally friendly) alternative to backpack mail,” Bellavia noted.
High schools do not have backpack mail and thus are not slated to get the new system. After the jump, a video about Peachjar.
Year-round yard waste collection is coming to Arlington
On Saturday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a measure that will provide curbside collection of yard waste year round for Arlington households.
The new service is expected to divert up to 9,000 tons of compostable materials from trash collection and raise the county’s recycling rate, which is already the highest in the region.
While Arlington’s solid waste rate remains the lowest in the region, the yard waste collection will ultimately cost homeowners an extra $47 per year.
Critics have said that the extra cost will hurt already-burdened Arlington homeowners. Critics also say that the extra trucks required to haul the yard waste may produce more greenhouse gasses than are saved by not sending the yard waste with other trash to a waste-to-energy plant, as is current practice.
The county’s press release about year-round yard waste collection, after the jump.
If so, then the Arlington Farmers Market in Courthouse has just the fleshy bottom-feeder for you, starting tomorrow.
The weekly farmers market, which runs on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon in the parking lot at the intersection of N. Courthouse Road and 14th Street N., is adding blue catfish to its offerings.
In a press release, farmers market operator Community Foodworks says blue catfish tastes “delicious.” Knowing that eating it will help rid the Chesapeake Bay of an invasive pest will make it taste even better. Plus, for every pound of blue catfish bought at the farmers market, a portion will be donated to local anti-hunger groups.
The Arlington Farmers Market, located at Courthouse Plaza for over 35 years, is joining forces with Charlottesville-based fisherman Zac Culbertson, of Cold Country Salmon, and Maryland’s Wide Net Project to introduce residents to the joys of eating wild blue catfish as the best way to support local fishermen, eliminate invasive species and combat hunger.
Introduced to certain Virginia tributaries in the 1970s for recreational fishing, the blue catfish (ictalurus furcatus), North America’s largest, now outnumbers other fish 3-to-1 in bay tributaries. The Wide Net Project was founded to turn the plentiful, delicious fish into an affordable source of protein for both anti-hunger relief and paying customers. For every pound of catfish Arlington Farmers Market customers purchase, WNP will donate one portion to local anti-hunger organizations such as Miriam’s Kitchen and Martha’s Table.
As part of its mission to support regional food producers, Arlington Farmers Market recruited Culbertson, who runs a small acreage farm and travels to Bristol Bay, Alaska every summer to net salmon from a biologist-managed, sustainable fishery on the Ugashik River. Culbertson returns his “Beyond Sushi Grade” salmon, which is frozen immediately after catch, to Virginia where he produces salmon spread, salmon cakes, salmon animal treats, spices, and glazes.
Beginning November 7 at Arlington Farmers Market, Culbertson will sell Wide Net Project blue catfish, his wild salmon and salmon products and Virginia oysters from Seaford Oyster Company in Seaford, VA.
Photo by Flickr user rbairdpccam, via Chesapeake Bay Program
Residents in Arlington’s Penrose neighborhood are claiming that recent trimming by Dominion Power contractors injured trees that line the streets.
They are especially concerned with a White Oak tree on the corner of 8th Street S. and S. Veitch Street, which dates back to before the Civil War, said Terri Armao, chair of the Penrose Neighborhood Association’s Environmental Committee.
“They brutally attacked it yesterday,” Armao said. “I can’t even tell you what they did to it.”
Limbs were cut from the middle where the power line ran though, leaving a gap and causing the tree to look like a giant “V.” Residents had previously asked Dominion not to touch the tree because of its old age.
“I mean it is ridiculous. For a tree they weren’t supposed to touch, they touch a V out of it,” Armao said.
Margaret Alvord, a Penrose resident, attempted to stop the contractors from cutting into the tree, after receiving a call from a neighbor. The tree had been pruned three weeks ago and was still recovering, Alvord said.
“So I jumped up and went up the street in my car,” Alvord said. “I parked my car and they had already begun… and I asked them to stop. I said, ‘this tree is a very old tree.'”
The workers told her to go talk to the supervisor, and when she talked to him, he told her it was the workers’ job to clear the trees from the lines.
“He basically said its our job to clear the lines. And they have to go 10 feet from lines,” Alvord said.
Dominion workers trim trees in order to keep them off of the power lines, said Chuck Penn, a media specialist with Dominion. The trimmings help to keep the power on during storms.
“Our mandate is to provide safe and reliable service to our customers,” he said.
The company respects the resident’s love for the trees and try to balance keeping the trees and providing service, Penn said.
“I cannot overemphasize enough the empathy we bring to our pruning,” he said. “People love their trees and we respect that.”
All Dominion foresters are certified arborists, Penn said. Trees are trimmed every three to four years to maintain the power lines.
“It’s a delicate balance we don’t take lightly,” Penn said. “We respect our customers and our trees.”
The White Oak is important to the neighborhood for its environmental impacts as well as its age, Armao said. For instance, the tree provides shade for the elderly resident that lives in the house next to it.
White Oaks are also known for their support of different species. A White Oak produces acorns, which can be used by 180 other species, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.
“They’re one of those keystone trees,” Armao said.
Dominion does not have a policy for trees that have historic value, Penn said. The company does use the foresters when determining when a tree is a “danger” tree and needs to be trimmed.
Neighbors looked through the tree branches for squirrel and bird nests. They found squirrel nests but did not find any traces of live animals in the tree limbs.
Trees were also trimmed on S. Veitch Street and between S. Wayne and S. Adams, Alvord said.
“Our concern is that they are overly trimming trees we’d really like to save,” she said.
Tomorrow is Earth Day, and in honor of the 45th anniversary of the holiday dedicated to the environment, Arlington residents and workers can take part in several events around the county this week.
On the eve of Earth Day, this afternoon at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street), the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting an Earth Day scavenger hunt. From 3:00-5:00 p.m., teams will form to take pictures, find clues and solve puzzles, all with a goal of promoting sustainability. Registration is required for the event, and those interested can email to sign up.
Tomorrow, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District is providing its annual planting clinic. At the Plaza on 19th — the small public space at the corner of N. Moore and 19th Streets — from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the BID’s landscaping contractor will give demonstrations on how to plant your own garden and maintain it. Attendees will be able to take home a potted plant of their own, and one of Rosslyn’s food trucks will be on hand for the hungry planters.
On Saturday, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., George Mason University’s Arlington campus is throwing a “Go Gaga for Green” event. There will be a silent auction for rain barrels decorated by Arlington Public Schools students, a lip-sync battle, green-themed food and drink and a raffle. Tickets are $25 and free for APS families and staff. Proceeds will benefit the Arlington County Council of PTAs’ scholarship fund, GMU’s Early Identification Program, which funds first-generation college students and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment’s Energy Masters Program.
For more environmentally themed events this week and in the future, you can visit Arlington’s website.
(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) Over the next week, Arlington residents have two chances to take one more step in spring cleaning: recycling household goods and electronics.
This Saturday, Arlington is hosting its biannual E-CARE recycling event at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road), allowing residents to dropoff hazardous household goods to be disposed of responsibly.
The event will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. According to Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, these are the items residents can bring and have recycled:
- Automotive fluids
- Car care products
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
- Corrosives (acids/caustics)
- Fire extinguishers
- Flammable solvents
- Fluorescent tubes
- Fuels/petroleum products
- Household cleaners
- Lawn and garden chemicals
- Paint products (25-can limit)
- Photographic chemicals
- Poisons (pesticides)
- Propane gas cylinders (small hand-held or larger)
- Swimming pool chemicals
Explosives and ammunition, medical wastes, asbestos, freon and radioactive materials are among the items Arlington won’t accept. Residents can also bring small metal items like pots and pans, computer monitors and old TVs, keyboards, scanners and phones to be recycled.
Next Wednesday, April 22 — on the 45th anniversary of Earth Day — the Crystal City Business Improvement District will hold a recycling event of their own, more focused on electronics and office supplies.
The annual Power Purge and Shred is from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. next Wednesday at 1900 Crystal Drive. Unwanted documents and electronics will be recycled and, if you so choose, the former will be shredded and destroyed. There’s also a “hard drive crusher” on site, allowing you to “watch your data storage device be rendered useless,” the BID says on its website.
The Purge and Shred will accept batteries, old electronics — including monitors and microwaves — and will accept old, incandescent light bulbs. In exchange for the old lightbulbs, the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy will give recyclers a new LED bulb.
Crystal City’s Power Purge has recycled nearly 140 tons of electronics since the event’s inception. This year, the event will also include a photo contest, with a free class at the nearby TechShop as the prize.
Both sites will be accepting old bikes and donating them to Bikes for the World, which takes old, used bikes and repairs them, giving the new and improved bicycles to impoverished people overseas.
Image via Arlington County. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.