A program called RAPIDPASS Virginia has launched, allowing drivers to get the required test for their vehicle during their daily commute.
The on-road testing is being conducted in various parts of Arlington and other Northern Virginia localities.
From a press release:
Motorists simply drive through conveniently located on-road testing equipment positioned throughout Northern Virginia to have their vehicle emissions measured. Owners of well-maintained, clean-running vehicles will receive notification of a passing emissions inspection via mail, or motorists can go online to www.RAPIDPASS.org and enter their license plate number to check if their vehicle has been processed as clean. For vehicles identified as clean, owners can conveniently pay their inspection fee on-line or through the mail and proceed with their vehicle registration renewal. Taking advantage of RAPIDPASS® allows a motorist to skip the trip to a traditional testing station for the biennial emissions test.
Fifteen RAPIDPASS® on-road emissions testing systems are being conveniently distributed across more than 150 roadside mobile inspection locations in the Northern Virginia inspection area counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. The locations are positioned on frequently used thoroughfares and will be rotated throughout the month.
Testing locations are being posted on the RAPIDPASS website. Today through Thursday, the testing is being done on Lee Highway in Rosslyn.
Arlington County is preparing to make its list of 265 designated “notable trees” a bit longer.
The Department of Parks and Recreation is accepting nominations for its Notable Tree Program through Nov. 15. The program has identified the county’s most notable trees for nearly 30 years.
Last year, 16 trees were deemed worthy of the designation.
According to the nomination form, the purpose of the program is to “recognize and thank the citizens who maintain and care for the County’s most noteworthy trees.” It also hopes encourage other residents to appreciate and take better care of greenery on their property.
What exactly, then, makes a tree notable?
Size, age, historical interest, species uniqueness and special significance to a neighborhood are all factors that can earn a tree a spot on the county’s registry and a certificate or plaque.
The process to get there, though, can be complicated. First, nominators are encouraged to get consent from the tree’s owner before filling out the one-page application. A team of County staff and volunteers will then visit each tree to measure it and evaluate its condition.
That team will make a recommendation to the Urban Forestry Commission, who will decide whether or not to designate and register the tree.
The winners will receive their award at the County’s Arbor Day ceremony, which falls on April 29, 2016.
Photo via Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation
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.
AWLA Cats Star in Movie Trailers — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is releasing a mock movie trailer each week this month starring their very own cats. The adoptable felines will then be given the star treatment at the shelter. “Guests who visit AWLA each Friday in June will be invited to walk the ‘Paw of Fame,’ enjoy some popcorn and take a photo with one of the starring ‘caters’ or ‘catresses’ or to take one home for free,” The first trailer is set to a “Jurassic World” theme. [Facebook]
Arlington Sells $77 Million in Bonds — Arlington County issued $77 million worth of bonds Tuesday, at an average interest rate of 2.8 percent. “Our Triple-AAA rating has helped ensure the lowest interest rates possible, ensuring taxpayer dollars for bond funded projects are used as effectively as possible,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a press release. [Arlington County]
Sierra Club Endorses Fallon — Peter Fallon has picked up a key environmental endorsement ahead of the June 9 Democratic County Board primary. The Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club has endorsed Fallon, saying he has “a long history of community activism,” is “well versed in the environmental issues facing the County” and is “a strong supporter of [Arlington’s] Community Energy Plan.” Though there are two open County Board seats, the group said it “opted to only endorse one candidate.”
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
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.
Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment are organizing their annual Potomac River watershed cleanup next weekend, and are looking for a few extra pairs of hands.
This is the 27th year of the annual watershed cleanup. It’s coordinated all along the river, from West Virginia to the Chesapeake, by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Last year, the cleanup day recovered 576,000 pounds of trash at 671 different sites. More than 14,000 volunteers participated.
Arlington’s contingent will meet Saturday, April 11 at 9:00 a.m. at the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Chain Bridge Road. The area is steep and rocky in spots, so ACE advises children younger than 10 years old to be left at home, and children younger than 16 to be accompanied by a parent.
Interested volunteers can sign up here. Next Saturday, they should wear long sleeves and pants, sturdy shoes that can get wet, work gloves, sunscreen and bottled water. All cleanup materials will be provided.
File photo courtesy Rob Laybourn
Arlington County officials promoted the Community Energy Plan approved last year in an online video released this week.
The plan, adopted in June 2013 after 15 months of community meetings, was designed to improve energy use through 2050 and set a national standard, County Board Chair Jay Fisette says in the eight- minute clip.
“A community energy plan is the next chapter of Arlington’s sustainability story,” Fisette says.
Officials explain how the county has reduced energy use in public buildings, including in the Central Library, where upgrades to lighting and other technology have cut usage by 25 percent since 2007.
Businesses and homeowners need to do their part, as the private sector accounts for 96 percent of the county’s energy use, said Community Energy Coordinator Rich Dooley.
“We’re looking at potential financial incentive programs for commercial building owners to try to get them to do more energy efficiency and renewable energy projects,” Dooley says.
APS To Use ‘Big Data’ to Prevent Dropouts — Arlington Public Schools held a contest this summer for “big data” companies to analyze its student performance data, and plans to use the newly-released results to predict which students are at risk of dropping out of school. The winning company, Deep Learning Analytics, found that APS should refine its data collecting techniques. In addition, it found that, along with attendance, behavior and coursework, socioeconomic standing is a predictive indicator for school dropouts. [Arlington Public Schools]
Military Jet to Land at DCA — The Scorpion, a new military fighter jet, will land at Reagan National Airport on Saturday. The jet — manufactured by Textron AirLand LLC — will stay in a DCA hangar for a week, for marketing purposes. [InsideNova]
County Launches New Blog — Arlington County has launched “Natural Arlington,” a new blog to discuss environmental issues in the county. Recent topics include a discussion of green frogs, the environmental issues with dog poop, and a post about the sale of native plants at local nurseries. [Natural Arlington]
Road Closure for Street Fair — Part of 9th Street S. will be closed in the area of Walter Reed Drive for the annual Prio Bangla Potho Mela street fair. The event is taking place Saturday morning. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Bill Ross
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will lead an effort to clean up the shoreline at Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary near Crystal City tomorrow (Thursday).
The Department of the Interior oversees the National Park Service, which is in the middle of a process of environmental and access enhancements to the sanctuary and to Gravelly Point Park, across the George Washington Parkway from the sanctuary. To help out with that project, Jewell and volunteers from AmeriCorps and the Student Conservation Association will plant “native wetland species,” remove invasive plants and clean up trash from the sanctuary’s shoreline.
The program will start at 11:30 a.m. and the cleanup efforts will go until 4:00 p.m. The cleanup is meant to not only help with the ecosystem of Roaches Run, but also to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as part of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.
“The day is going to be commemorating 9/11 and recognizing the importance of giving back to the community through hands-on service work,” SCA events manager Lori Robertson told ARLnow.com. “Because it’s so close to such an urban area and really close to the parkway, [Roaches Run] has been neglected over time. [The NPS] is trying to rehab and restore its health.”
The event is also part of Jewell and Interior’s youth initiative. About a third of the Interior Department’s staff will be eligible to retire within the next five years, according to Jewell. As a result, the department is looking to recruit young people who can be the nation’s future stewards of public lands.
“I’ve had the privilege of being out on many service projects in the outdoors with young people,” Jewell says in a video about the initiative. “One thing that strikes me is, when they get their hands dirty working on the land, when they make a difference and they build a segment of trail, they never look at that place in the same way.”
Photo via Google Maps
From 10:00 to 10:30 p.m., the students in Woodlawn’s Earth Force Group want everyone to dim or turn off unnecessary lights, and draw their shades or curtains to prevent light pollution. The half hour of observance coincides with Earth Day today, Arlington’s Green Expo on Saturday, International Dark Sky Week and, according to sixth-grader Samara Cathirell, “the peak migration of birds over our region.”
“Studies have linked various cancers to over-exposure to artificial lighting, including breast and prostate cancer,” said the Earth Force press release credited to Samara. “Some amphibians have been shown to come out later to feed and are missing their prey opportunities. Millions of birds die each year by flying into tall artificially lit buildings. Algae continues to grow excessively at night under the artificial lights polluting streams, and nitric oxides and C02 (a greenhouse gas) and SO2 are building up contributing to pollution.”
During the period of observance, residents are asked to go outside and enjoy what the Earth Force group hopes will be a starry night sky.
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will be a speaker this Thursday at the showing of a film that examines the impact that plastic bags and other plastic products have on the environment.
The film, called “Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?” will be presented at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. The event is hosted by Tap In Arlington, a grassroots organization campaigning against single-use plastic water bottles.
Fisette launched a “personal crusade” against plastic bottles last year, is a supporter of Tap In and debated a bottled water industry executive in January. Fisette will speak alongside the film’s director and star, Jeb Berrier.
In promotional material, the film is described as “touching and often flat-out-funny” and Berrier is said to be an “everyman… who is admittedly not a tree hugger.”
Tickets for the event are $10 at the door, or $5 for students and seniors.
New bio-retention basins have been built next to the classroom trailers — or “relocatables,” in Arlington parlance — at Abingdon and Nottingham elementary schools and at Washington-Lee High School.
A new video produced by Arlington Public Schools (above) explains how the basins work and why they’re necessary.
With the resolution passed by the Board, Arlington joins the environmental advocacy nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity’s campaign to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to “make full use of the Clean Air Act” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Arlington is the 70th municipality to endorse the campaign, a list that includes Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
From the CBD’s press release:
“President Obama took another step last week toward deploying the Clean Air Act against greenhouse gas pollution, and now is the moment to push the federal government for ambitious action,” said Rose Braz, the Center’s climate campaign director. “Arlington’s leaders, like people in communities around the country, understand the dangers of climate change and are urging action through the passage of this resolution. To avert climate chaos, we must make full use of the Clean Air Act.”
With 32 heat records broken, 2012 was the third-hottest year ever recorded for Virginia. Rising temperatures bring the threat of additional heat-related illness and deaths, increased air pollution and drought. Just last week, coastal Virginia mayors and other local elected officials gathered in Williamsburg to call for increased state action on climate in light of serious local impacts, including flooding and sea level rise.
The Center’s Clean Air Cities campaign is working around the country to encourage cities to pass resolutions supporting the Clean Air Act and using the Act to reduce carbon in our atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million, the level scientists say we must reach in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.
This article was written by Audrey Batcheller
So far this summer, Arlington has been subject to flash floods and flash flood warnings. While flash floods are obviously harmful to those who live in or are trying to navigate through a flooded area, the floods can actually be harmful to the ecology of the flooded waterway itself.
A flash flood is a weather condition defined by the National Weather Service as “a rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event.” In other words, a tremendous amount of water in a short amount of time caused by thunderstorms or heavy rainfall.
These types of storms are most common in Arlington during the spring and summer months due to the weather and climate of the area, which explains why the flood threats have picked up recently.
The effects of flash floods depend on factors such as the amount of previous rainfall the area has experienced and how much rainfall can be absorbed in the area. Flash floods, therefore, affect all areas and environments differently and there’s no blanket formula to predict how a storm will affect a given area.
“When rainfall runs from developed surfaces in Arlington to local streams, it washes any nutrients on the surface into the watershed,” explains WJLA meteorologist and Arlington Public Schools high school science teacher Ryan Miller.
These nutrients can include fertilizer, pet waste, and gasoline, and when they infiltrate runoff heading towards local tributaries, they eventually end up in the Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Waterways suffer from the introduction of these pollutants which catalyze a harmful process called eutrophication.
Eutrophication occurs when algae blooms in a body of water deplete the dissolved oxygen levels in the water. This loss of oxygen creates what is referred to as anoxic water and typically results in an environment unsuitable for living organisms.
The harmful effects of eutrophication and runoff can be augmented by flash flooding, considering the abundance of water washing into local streams such as Four Mile Run or Long Branch.
Fisette will moderate and George Mason University’s Arlington campus will host “a special public forum to discuss the environmental and economic implications of single-use plastic water bottles,” from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, April 15. The forum, entitled “Say NO to Bottled H2O,” will be held at GMU’s Founders Hall Auditorium (3351 Fairfax Drive).
In addition to a panel discussion with environmental and water experts, the event will feature a screening of the documentary “Bag It,” which critically explores the use of single-use disposable bags. The forum is being co-sponsored by GMU, Arlington County, The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, Arlington Public Schools, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, Marymount University and the George Mason Environmental Law Society.
The forum is also the kick-off for a new grassroots organization called “Tap in Arlington,” which asks residents to “choose to drink tap water instead of purchasing single use plastic water bottles.”
The organization says 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce billions of single-use plastic water bottles annually, and less than 30 percent of those bottles are recycled. Bottled water is 2-4 times the price of gasoline, according to statistics cited by Tap in Arlington.
Fisette said the effort reflects the public commitment he made on New Years Day to bring attention to the use of bottled water and its environmental impacts.
“I raised the issue on January 1, stating that I would begin a ‘personal crusade’ to reduce the use of plastic water bottles,” Fisette said. “Well, the crusade is about to begin.”