Press Club
Trees in Arlington (staff photo)

A new program seeks to increase equity in Arlington by planting more trees in certain neighborhoods.

The local non-profit EcoAction Arlington announced that it’s starting the “Tree Canopy Equity Program” with the goal of raising $1.5 million to fund planting at least 2,500 trees over the next five years in local neighborhoods that have too few.

Insufficient tree canopy is closely tied to heat and temperature increases. The reason certain areas of Arlington are hotter than others, like the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, is due in part to lack of trees, recent data shows.

“The neighborhoods most impacted by insufficient tree cover are communities with higher-than-average minority populations and communities with people living in poverty,” EcoAction Arlington said a press release. “The lack of trees has a real-world impact that can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes, higher utility costs, and a lower quality of life.”

The ten civic associations and neighborhoods that the program will work with are below.

  • Arlington View
  • Aurora Highlands
  • Buckingham
  • Columbia Heights
  • Glebewood
  • Green Valley
  • John M. Langston Citizens Association (Halls Hill/High View Park)
  • Long Branch Creek
  • Penrose
  • Radnor/Fort Myer Heights

The current levels of tree cover in those neighborhoods is between 17% and 33%, according to EcoAction Arlington.

“The goal is to radically increase tree planting in the neighborhoods with the lowest tree cover to align with the average for other Arlington communities of approximately 40 percent,” the press release says.

EcoAction Arlington executive director Elenor Hodges tells ARLnow that that the group has already begun to plant more trees. That includes American hornbeams, pin oaks, river birch, sugarberry, American sycamore, swamp white oak, and American linden.

The program needs about $150,000 a year to cover operations, marketing, staffing, and the actual planting of trees, Hodges says, with each tree costing about $500 to plant.

Amazon, an inaugural sponsor, has already contributed $50,000. The goal is to raise $1.5 million from other corporate and individual donors, while also obtaining funding from Arlington’s existing Tree Canopy Fund Program. This initiative allows neighborhood groups, owners of private property and developments, and places of worship to apply to have native plants or trees planted on their property.

Residents in neighborhoods lacking sufficient tree canopy note that the the problem is often tied to the construction of large, new homes and not prioritizing trees while building.

“As we lose trees due to infill development of large homes on lots in our neighborhood, they need to be replaced and even expanded,” John M. Langston Citizens Association president Wilma Jones tells ARLnow. “We all know that trees give off oxygen and they reduce stormwater runoff.

Natasha Atkins has been a resident of Aurora Highlands for nearly four decades and has “watched with alarm” the number of trees lost to homebuilding projects.

“With the County’s zoning code, requiring only very small setbacks for residential housing, it is questionable whether there will be much of a tree canopy in the future in the single-family neighborhoods that are being redeveloped,” she says. “Trees are an afterthought in planning and zoning. They should really be a driver.”

Hodges concedes that planting 2,500 more trees over the next five years will only “make a dent” and it will take tens of thousands of trees for all these neighborhoods to reach the 40% tree canopy threshold.

But the Tree Canopy Equity Program is just as much about what one can do today as what one can do tomorrow, says Hodges.

“It’s about behavioral change and teaching people about the importance of having a sufficient tree canopy in Arlington,” she said.

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Volunteers at Upton Hill Regional Park removing honeysuckle vines (photo courtesy of NOVA Parks)

A recently-announced partnership between is helping to clear hundreds of invasive plants from Upton Hill Regional Park.

For the past year, work has been ongoing to remove invasive plants from the 27-acre Upton Hill Regional Park located on Wilson Blvd in the Dominion Hills neighborhood. In particular, work has focused on a two acre section of the wooded section of the park with the highest concentration of invasives.

The work is being done by NOVA Parks, the inter-jurisdictional organization that operates Upton Hill, in collaboration with Arlington Master Naturalists, a group of certified volunteers with the mission of protecting local public lands. The partnership between the two organization is being touted by NOVA Parks in conjunction with today’s Earth Day holiday.

Nearly 1,000 volunteer hours were logged in 2021 managing invasive plants at the park, according to a NOVA Parks press release. In particular, volunteers cleared 19 invasive plants that are commonly found in Arlington, including Amur Honeysuckle, English Ivy, Wintercreeper, Rose of Sharon, and Winged Burning Bush.

“Park visitors who know the difference between native and invasive plants will already see a difference, as the natural habitat has been significantly enhanced,” Jill Barker of the Arlington Master Naturalists said. “We are thrilled with the partnership and progress over the last year.”

The work remains ongoing since the removal of invasive plants “is never really done,” notes the release.

Paul Gilbert, the executive director of NOVA Parks, tells ARLnow that the effort is costing NOVA Parks “at least” $100,000 a year in staff time, equipment, and a $60,000 a year contract that brings in “expert contractors to complement the efforts of volunteers and NOVA Parks staff.”

“This work will continue for years,” Gilbert said. “It may scale up or down some based on need over the years.”

Twice a month, the park hosts an invasive plant removal event. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up. The next one is being held this coming Thursday (April 28).

NOVA Parks and Arlington Master Naturalists have recently partnered on other programs as well. In 2020 and 2021 the two organizations, along with the Arlington branch of the NAACP, hosted the “Black and Latin/Hispanic Birder and Naturalist Series.” One of the leaders of that program was noted forestry trailblazer — and Arlington resident — Melody Mobley.

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It was a reasonable ask. Amanda Dabrowski and Jessie Dertke just wanted to do more outdoor activities and go camping. So, they joined the Boy Scouts. Specifically, Arlington’s Troop 104, the oldest continuously operated troop in the Commonwealth and first established more than a century ago.

For nearly all of those years, though, girls weren’t allowed to join.

But all of that changed in 2019 when the Boy Scouts of America allowed girls ages 11 to 17 years old to enter their ranks for the first time. The organization was renamed Scouts BSA. Additionally, the new members were given the opportunity to rise to the rank of Eagle Scout.

The very first day, February 1, 2019, that girls were allowed to join the Boy Scouts, then-12-year-old Dabrowski did exactly that. And went camping, winter be damned.

“I was so excited. And there was a camp-up that day, so I went out and did it. It was six degrees and freezing cold. But I was really, really psyched,” Dabrowski tells ARLnow, now 15 and living in the Ashton Heights neighborhood.

Dabrowski, as well as Dertke have gone on to become Eagle Scouts, making them among the first girls in Arlington to not only be part of what was once called the Boy Scouts but achieve the organization’s highest rank.

“I’m super proud,” Dabrowski says. “It makes me really happy and [becoming an Eagle Scout] doesn’t feel quite real yet… I’m one of the first people within the movement to be part of this.”

Overall, the two Arlingtonians are part of as many as 140,000 girls nationwide who have joined Scouts BSA since early 2019.

Like some who make history, the locals’ initial intentions weren’t necessarily to be first. It was simply to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. They just wanted to go camping, build fires, and learn how to use a hatchet.

Dabrowski explains that she used to tag along with her twin brother’s troop, doing all of the same activities and completing all the tasks, but wasn’t given the same opportunity for recognition.

“It was really hard to see my brother get the awards and, then, I had done the same things, but wasn’t able to be awarded it because of my gender,” she says.

For 18-year-old Dertke, who’s now a student at Virginia Tech, joining the Scouts was also a way to get outside and go camping. Though, she did have some trepidation about joining.

“I kinda didn’t really want to join at first because I was worried people would say, ‘What are you doing here? You are a girl?’,” she says. “It was actually a great atmosphere and everyone was very supportive. It was a very good decision [to join].”

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Gulf Branch Nature Center (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Supporters of Gulf Branch Nature Center are pushing to expand the hours of Arlington nature centers, as the 2023 county budget proposes to keep hours at pandemic levels.

In a letter to the community last week, Friends of Gulf Branch Nature Center president Duke Banks took issue with the County Manager’s proposed budget, which would keep the county’s two nature centers open only three days a week. That’s in contrast with the centers’ six day a week schedule prior to the pandemic.

The reasons for the cuts are due to safety and practicality.

A new Department of Parks and Recreation directive, as director Jane Rudolph noted in a budget work session earlier this month, is that two staff members are now required to open a county facility when previously only one was needed. That policy was put in place in response to a sexual assault that occurred at the Barcroft Recreation Center in 2019.

The other is that with more virtual programs — and school field trips still restricted, in part due to a bus driver shortage — nature center staff are more often going into schools instead of students coming to the facilities themselves.

Banks says that his organization understands the challenges, but believes it’s important to hire a few extra employees to keep the nature centers open as often as possible.

“Friends of GBNC understands the need for safety, and we laud nature center staff members on their flexibility in continuing to provide programs during COVID — both to the public and schools. However, these emergency initiatives don’t justify closing Arlington’s remaining nature centers three days a week,” Banks says in the letter. “Our nature centers anchor the creative new programming, providing essential facilities like exhibits, restrooms and shelter (during storms) and serving as a physical focal point that makes nature accessible to everyone, young or old, rich or poor.”

As Rudolph brought up at the work session, staffing and hiring remains a challenge across the department (as well as in the county as a whole). She noted that the department is making an effort to “meet people where they are” by taking nature center programming out of the facilities and into community centers, as well as schools.

“There is nature center programming happening, it just isn’t always happening in the nature center,” Rudolph said at the work session.

Banks and Friends of the Gulf Branch Nature Center disagreed with the approach, saying that structured programming shouldn’t be a driver of when the nature centers should be open.

“Many folks visit nature centers without attending a program and thus would be denied access to the nature centers at a time when the public’s visits to our parks have significantly increased during COVID,” Banks said in the letter. “With our highly urbanized environment and the pandemic-related fallout, children need the respite of enjoying nature now more than ever.”

The two county-run nature centers, Gulf Branch and Long Branch, averaged about 21,000 visitors annually in 2018 and 2019, according to a county report.

Rudolph made a point to say that the operational changes may not be permanent. The department is currently evaluating not just how many days the nature centers should be open, but their hours as well.

The centers are currently open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with no evening hours, but Rudolph said that there’s a possibility of using some money to keep the centers open later this year, after kids are out of school and parents return from work. This could make centers more accessible without opening on additional days, officials said.

Friends of the Gulf Branch Nature Center is not the only organization advocating for bring nature centers hours back to pre-pandemic levels. During the work session, representatives from the county’s Park and Recreation and Forestry and Natural Resources commissions also expressed a desire to have the nature centers open longer.

Supporters of Gulf Branch Nature Center are asking those who agree with them to send an email to the County Board and County Manager expressing “how important it is to keep our nature centers accessible to the public and how disappointed you are by the proposed cuts to the nature centers’ public hours.”

The full letter from the organization is below.

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Morning Notes

Cherry blossoms and Amazon’s HQ2 construction in Pentagon City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

County Prepping New Tree Study — “Arlington leaders may take their next crack at guesstimating the number of trees in the county – a topic not without political as well as environmental ramifications – early in 2023, if all goes according to plan… estimating the cost at $100,000 to $150,000.” [Sun Gazette]

New Name for GMU Arlington Campus — “George Mason University announced today that its Arlington Campus will be renamed Mason Square as the new centerpiece of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor for multi-disciplinary talent and business development, as well as a civic and cultural destination. Also being announced is Fuse at Mason Square, the name of the new technology-forward building that is the heart of Mason’s commitment to growing Northern Virginia’s next-generation workforce. A groundbreaking ceremony for Fuse at Mason Square will take place April 6.” [Press Release]

FBI Warns of ‘Sextortion’ of Boys — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning parents and caregivers about an increase in incidents involving sextortion of young children. The FBI is receiving an increasing number of reports of adults posing as young girls coercing young boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos and then extorting money from them.” [FBI]

Nature Center Staffing Slowly Returning — “Don’t expect hours of operation at Arlington’s two county-government natures centers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming year, or maybe ever, but local leaders say that doesn’t mean nature programs won’t have priority in coming years… [the] hope for the coming year was to use funding for temporary workers to increase hours at the nature center, including perhaps evening hours.” [Sun Gazette]

Church Wins Climate Award — “Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ’s commitment to fighting climate change over the past 15 years landed it a top award in the 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge. Rock Spring, on Little Falls Road in Arlington, was named the 2022 winner of the Energy Saver category in the challenge, sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit group that seeks to motivate people of faith to take steps to address climate change.” [Patch]

Alexandria Schools Propose SRO Extension — “Alexandria City Public Schools is requesting an extension of its controversial school resource officer (SRO) program through the end of the 2022-2023 school year. School Board Chair Meagan Alderton says that the extension is part of the reimagining of the $800,000 program.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 58 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:05 am and sunset at 7:26 pm. [Weather.gov]

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It’s a beautiful November morning among the trees outside of Long Branch Nature Center and Melody Mobley is at peace. She’s remembering how her mom used to take her and her siblings to creeks and collect leaves on weekends.

“To this day, I feel like I’m in more than church any time I’m out in the forest,” Mobley says, sitting on a bench in front of a pond. “This is my sacred space.”

In 1977, Mobley was hired to work at the United States Forest Service, after being recruited at her university’s career day. She was the first Black female professional forester in the agency’s history.

For decades, her life was in forests across the country, including in Washington, California, and Florida. In the late 1980s, she made the move to the D.C. area to help manage state forestry resource plans as well as watershed restoration. She’s lived in Arlington ever since, near N. Carlin Springs Road.

When Mobley started at the Forest Service as a forester, she loved the job.

“Just being in those beautiful, beautiful situations every day, picking your berries and greens from nature,” she tells ARLnow. “Just physically being in that place was wonderful. And seeing bears, porcupines, and everything we would see out there was just a real treat.”

It was the humans that made Mobley’s life hard. In fact, she hadn’t realized that she was the only woman of color at the Forest Service until a year into her job.

“I wasn’t into it,” she says. “When I found out I was the one and only, no one would ever let me forget it.”

As a young woman living in a small town, she felt isolated and constantly the focus all at the same time. It was like living in a fishbowl, Mobley says. Even things that one might think of as small were not available to her.

“I couldn’t get my hair done. I couldn’t find the products,” she says.

There were also far worse situations. She was sexually harassed, the target of racist remarks, and sexually assaulted by a work colleague when she was 20-years-old.

She thought about quitting, but did not want to give others the satisfaction that she was giving up. Plus, it was a full-time job that could help provide for her grandmother, who had cancer.

“I don’t want it to sound all doom and gloom because it wasn’t,” Mobley says.”But it sure was challenging.”

Even during her time working at the U.S. Forest Service headquarters in D.C. in the 1990s, Mobley says she constantly faced gender discrimination, harassment, and was even physically assaulted.

Later, as a leader, she hoped her speaking out would end this for herself as well as others facing similar mistreatment in the agency.

“I really put myself on the line speaking out,” she says. But in 2005 she retired, saying she had “no choice.”

To this day, she still fields calls from others in the Forest Service who are facing circumstances similar to her own. She provides advice, a sounding board, and sometimes even reaches out to leadership on their behalf.

“The Forest Service isn’t very happy with me, but that’s all right,” she says.

Mobley, however, has found her next calling, spending her days inspiring the younger generation by volunteering at Carlin Springs and Barrett Elementary schools. This includes taking students on nature walks, helping with their science assignments, and answering questions about the environment.

“I love, love, love kids so much,” she says. “I want them to see someone who looks like them. That’s so important.”

She helps to lead Black and Latin/Hispanic Birder and Naturalist series in partnership with Nova Parks and the NAACP’s Arlington Branch.

Mobley says those hikes are wonderful, but few people of color actually come on them. She’s not totally sure why, but this challenge isn’t unique to this program.

“Many of the programs around here don’t get people of color coming,” she says. “We really need to open that door and really make sure that they feel welcome… we need to make sure people know there’ll be people of color actually there.”

This is her mission, she says, to show that nature and forest are for all.

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Volunteers apply non-skid treatment to Trollheim Bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail (Photo via Friends of Mount Vernon Trail/Twitter)

The National Landing Business Improvement District and the group Friends of Mount Vernon Trail are teaming up to help maintain the heavily-used trail.

This includes financial support from the BID for supplies and equipment, and a series of Saturday clean-up events through Jan. 22.

“We are really excited to partner with the National Landing BID to achieve our common goal of making the Mount Vernon Trail a safe and pleasant doorway to National Landing,” Judd Isbell, president of the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail, wrote in a press release. “The BID’s sponsorship of our 2022 trail improvement events is providing vital support to purchase equipment and supplies for our volunteers.”

“We’ve had over 800 volunteers so far in 2021 and there have been times where we’ve had more volunteers than tools at our events,” Isabell added.

The sponsorship will provide resources to “better connect trail users to facilities, events and businesses in National Landing,” the nonprofit organization wrote in a blog post on Friday.

The BID declined to comment on exacts in terms of resources and funding. The sponsorship deal does appear to come with some swag, however.

The BID said the partnership will further its mission of making the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods a better place.

“Our wealth of green spaces and access to regional trails like the Mount Vernon Trail which boasts uninterrupted views of the D.C. skyline and stunning nature preserves, is part of what makes National Landing such an active, vibrant community,” National Landing BID president Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said.

The clean-up events began this past Saturday and will continue every week until Jan. 22. Each event will focus on a different section of the trail. For example, on New Year’s Day, volunteers will meet on the trail near the Crystal City Connector to help prune vegetation, cut tree branches, and pick up trash. Volunteers don’t need any special training and all tools will be provided.

There will also be a day of service on Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Day, in Alexandria.

“National Landing’s green spaces and direct access to trails like Mount Vernon are an integral part of our community,” wrote a National Landing BID spokesperson to ARLnow. “The National Landing BID’s mission is to support and complement our community’s exciting transformation, and that involves working with local groups, like the Friends of Mount Vernon Trail, to preserve our natural surroundings for years to come.”

The 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail runs from Mount Vernon in Fairfax County to Roosevelt Island near Rosslyn, passing by Crystal City as it parallels the GW Parkway. The trail is controlled by the National Park Service but volunteers have stepped up to keep it clean and safe for users amid sparse maintenance from the park service.

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Work began yesterday (Wednesday) on the long-delayed Ballston Beaver Pond remediation project — but no busy beavers will be involved.

The $4.2 million, 18-month project approved by the County Board this summer will retrofit the pond, originally built in 1980 to collect stormwater runoff from I-66. Today, sediment in the pond prevents detention, and it instead has become home to abundant wildlife, including beavers, according to a county report.

The project, expected to wrap up in July 2023, aims to improve stormwater retention and the wildlife habitat by restoring native plant species and adding habitat features. There will be a new observation platform with educational signage, seating and a reconstructed trail with bike racks.

Arlington County says the new two-acre wetland area will provide stormwater treatment to 460 acres of land in the Lubber Run watershed, and “is among the County’s most effective opportunities to achieve its water quality objectives and meet its regulatory requirements.”

This month, the construction contractor will be setting up the site, county project manager Aileen Winquist tells ARLnow. Excavation will begin next year.

“From now until the end of the year, neighbors will see the contractor bringing in equipment and setting up the boundaries of the construction area,” she said. “In the new year, neighbors will begin to see dump trucks full of sediment removed from the pond leaving the site.”

Public access will be limited as well. The grass area within the park will be off-limits, as it will be used for construction. A bike and pedestrian detour will reroute trail users from Washington Blvd to the Custis Trail and along the south side of the pond.

The detour will be in place for the entirety of construction, Winquist says.

A bicycle detour around the Ballston Beaver Pond construction project (via Arlington County)

The project is divided into a few phases, as work can only occur on one half of the pond at a time, Winquist said.

First, workers will remove sediment from and re-grade a half of the pond while removing invasive plants.

After the second half of the pond receives the same treatment, construction will begin on a new observation platform, trail upgrades, native species planting and new habitat features, including basking stations for turtles, she said.

The project is a long time in coming.

After community engagement in 2011-12, the project was paused in 2013 until the necessary easements were obtained from property owners. A redesigned project with new permits went to the public in January 2019, but “COVID-19 and related budget concerns” again delayed the project, the report says.

Still, those nearby welcome the pond redo, according to the report.

“The community continues to be very supportive of the project and it is highly anticipated by Ballston area residents and businesses,” it said.

But once beaver baffles are installed to discourage these critters from returning — and damming the pond again, which could compromise water quality — the wetland area will need a new name.

“This beautiful natural area needs a name that fits its unique space,” says Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Martha Holland.

Next year, the county plans to ask the community for name ideas and provide an opportunity to comment on a list of potential names.

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Dropping nearly 40 feet from a platform above, a climber cut the ribbon on the “finest ropes course in the Mid-Atlantic.”

Located at Upton Hill Regional Park on Wilson Blvd in Arlington, Climb UPton was formally opened this morning at a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by local officials as well as those from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority which operates the course.

“We gather to celebrate this magnificent cutting edge recreational ropes course… and one of the finest examples of regional and local collaboration,” said Cate Magennis Wyatt, chair of NOVA Parks board. “This is the finest ropes course in the Mid-Atlantic. That’s what you have given back to the citizens.”

Officials are touting this ropes course as the biggest and best in the area. With 90 elements and reaching nearly 40 feet high, the course is intended for beginners and those more advanced alike. It features three zip lines, a 40-foot controlled freefall, tunnels, an Everest ladder, and an observation deck.

The course also has a “parks theme,” hence the suspended picnic table that climbers can ostensibly sit and eat lunch at.

The course actually has been open for climbers since July, but the admissions building wasn’t finished until now due to “supply chain issues,” NOVA Parks Executive Director Paul Gilbert told ARLnow.

The ropes course is the major addition of the $4 million, at times contentious, renovation of Upton Hill Regional Park that was first presented to the Arlington County Board in late 2017.

There’s also a new playground at the bottom of the hill, parking improvements (including ADA-accessible parking on Wilson Blvd), more walking trails, a large underground cistern to capture stormwater as well as soon-to-be opened bathrooms and a picnic shelter next to the playground. The renovations were paid for with revenue bonds from the Virginia Resources Authority.

These additions join slow and fast pitch batting cages, Ocean Dunes Waterpark (which is currently closed for the season), and a 18-hole mini-golf course already at Upton Hill Regional Park.

A big reason that some residents and conservationists initially disapproved of the project was the plan to cut down more than a hundred trees to make room for the ropes course and parking lot improvements. Not only were some of those trees saved, but a new native hickory and oak forest was planted in the park, officials said.

“We brought in the right trees, the right shrubs, the right grasses to create the ultimate succession of forest to kind of jumpstart [the growth process],” Gilbert told ARLnow. “We don’t have to wait a hundred years for it to get there. We can grow it from the ground up.”

Chris Tighe, president of the Boulevard Manor Civic Association during much of the project’s development, said in remarks that this was a “testament” of how government, non-profits, and the community can come together to build something that works for all.

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Bird in the tree (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Whatever was sickening and killing local birds earlier in the summer seems to be subsiding and it’s now safe to put bird feeders back out, according to both local and state officials.

“As far as I am aware, we have not taken in or received any calls about said birds in several weeks,” writes Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) spokesperson Chelsea Jones writes ARLnow. “At this point, it is safe to put bird feeders back out, but we definitely encourage everyone to wash their birdfeeders regularly.”

A press release this morning from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources echoes that.

“As of mid-August, reports of sick and dead birds have declined in many jurisdictions, and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is lifting its previous recommendation to cease feeding birds in affected areas,” reads the release.

If choosing to put out a feeder or a bird bath, DWR asks that they be cleaned once a week and disinfected with a 10% bleach solution.

Back in June, authorities advised residents to remove their bird feeders as a precautionary measure.

Despite this good news, the mystery still remains on what exactly was causing birds to get sick and die throughout Northern Virginia, D.C., and parts of Maryland.

The mysterious illness seemingly coincided with the emergency of the Brood X cicadas, but Virginia DWR also said that “no definitive cause(s) of illness or death have been determined” at this time. There was no mention of cicadas in the DWR press release.

DWR has ruled out a number of potential causes, though, including salmonella, chlamydia, avian influenza virus, West Nile virus, herpesviruses, and coronavirus. Toxicology tests have also been negative for heavy metals, common pesticides, and herbicides. Other diagnostic tests are ongoing, the release notes.

In May, reports from across the region came into authorities about birds suffering from eye issues including swelling, crusting, and discharging that was potentially leading to blindness. Along with other neurological symptoms, this caused a significant number of even healthy juvenile birds to die. AWLA set up an online form, asking residents to report dead birds.

The issue was of great concern to authorities and naturalists across the area.

“We are very saddened by this ongoing issue and are hopeful for more finding soon,” AWLA Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint told ARLnow back in June. “These birds are federally protected for a reason, they are a national treasure and vital to our ecosystem.”

While whatever was happening impacted much of Northern Virginia, reports of bird deaths were the highest in Fairfax and Arlington counties. This is what made this particular occurrence rare.

“Bird mortality events are not uncommon,” reads DWR’s release. “Several aspects make this particular event unique, including the specific age and species of the affected birds, the extensive geographic scope, the duration of reported mortalities, and the fact that the initial reports were received from an urban area.”

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Morning Notes

New Italian Eatery Opening Soon — “Antonio Ferraro, whose Napoli Pasta Bar in Columbia Heights was named a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant in 2018, is opening a new market concept in Arlington’s Pentagon Row. Napoli Salumeria is specializing in grab-and-go-style meals, including Neapolitan street food (fried mozzarella and focaccia), homemade pastas, and sauces. Expect classic sandwiches, including cheesesteaks, Italian subs, and sausage and peppers… the hope is to open the market late next week.” [DCist]

Arlington ‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Still On — Jason Foster, a former pro football player who lives in the Courthouse area, remains a contestant on ABC’s ‘Bachelorette,’ though Bachelorette Clare seems focused on another beau: Dale, who the other contestants spent part of Tuesday’s episode roasting. [Washingtonian]

Some Skeptical of County’s Race Conversations — “James Moore is an Arlington community activist and owner of a 60-year-old neighborhood barbershop in the Hall’s Hill neighborhood. ‘Our communities in Arlington will want action more so than just conversation,’ Moore said. Moore said he would like to see the county support Black people living in the community by providing more mental health and housing resources.” [The Wash]

Kid’s Skatepark Petition Gets 600 Signers — “I would like for the Arlington county board to add a new skatepark to our area. As you may have noticed the Powhatan Springs skatepark is starting to get very crowded and is hard to ride around without bumping into other people. This park is actually becoming dangerous with all of the people riding in the bowls at one time.” [Change.org]

Chamber Names ‘Best Business’ Honorees — “Last night, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce celebrated the 34th Annual Arlington Best Business Awards at the Crowne Plaza Crystal City-Washington, D.C., in a hybrid format that allowed attendees to join in person and virtually.” [Press Release]

Arlington Among Top Places for Nature Lovers — A list of the “best places in America for outdoor enthusiasts to live and work” has ranked Arlington No. 21, between Scottsdale, Arizona and Tampa, Florida. Seattle ranked No. 1. [SmartAsset]

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