NVSWCD Announcements

Board of Directors Meeting

The next meeting of the Board of Directors of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District will be on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, at 9:30 a.m., in the Fairfax County Park Authority Board Room, Herrity Building, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035.  

Directions to the Herrity Building | Board of Directors Biographies | NVSWCD Board Meeting Minutes

Backyard Chicken Management Workshop

  • Saturday, April 11, 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., Pennino Building, 12011 Fairfax County Parkway, Room 206
  • Speakers include Dr. Brigid McCrae of Delaware State University, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning staff, and Senior Conservation Specialist Willie Woode of NVSWCD.

Small, backyard flocks of chickens are becoming popular not just in the countryside, but in cities and suburbs as well, as people seek fresh and local sources of food. At this workshop, you will learn how to start a backyard flock, the basics of chicken nutrition, how to manage pollution and disease and what the local regulations require for you to keep a happy flock and happy neighbors. The workshop is free, but please RSVP in advance to Amy Ordonez of Virginia Cooperative Extension as spaces are limited: aordonez@vt.edu, 703-324-5369.

Learn more about Backyard Chicken Management.

Build Your Own Tumbling Composter Workshop


Participants will start this workshop with a pile of recycled lumber, a recycled pickle barrel, and assorted screws and bolts, but you will leave with a fully functioning tumbler style composter! We will take you through the construction steps and also give you some primers on proper composting technique. The finished composter will hold 55 gallons of organic material. All lumber will be pre-cut and all tools and materials will be provided. The cost of the workshop is $75 and registration is limited to 15 people, although you may bring helpers to assist with the construction

What would you say if I were to tell you that you can turn regular household kitchen and yard waste into......gold? Skeptical? You should be, but where the ancient alchemists failed, we have succeeded! We can teach you too to turn what was once considered rubbish into valuable, prized organic humus: the veritable black gold of gardener lore! And how do we accomplish this amazing transformation? By harnessing the power of millions of natural microbes and putting them to work inside tumbler style composters.

A limited quantity of composter kits are currently available for assembly off-site, including pre-cut wood, a tumbler barrel and axle. For more information, please contact Dan Schwartz (703-324-1422, TTY 711).

Many thanks to the composter workshop partners: City of Falls Church and ReBuild Warehouse.

Lawn Care Operators Work for Clean Water

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) works with lawn care companies to encourage watershed-friendly lawn maintenance in the Commonwealth. Lawn care companies voluntarily enter into a water quality agreement with the agency. They agree to train their employees to use lawn care products responsibly, follow appropriate lawn fertilization practices and provide environmentally sound advice to customers. In return, DCR maintains a list of watershed-friendly lawn care operators that is available to the public. This spring, consider choosing a watershed-friendly lawn care company or, if you take care of your own lawn care, consult the DCR publication "Tips on Keeping Your Lawn Green...And the Chesapeake Bay Clean" to try home lawn care - the watershed-friendly way.

Get News and Updates: Green Breakfasts, Watershed Calendar, Conservation Currents

We encourage you to stay informed about the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District's opportunities and programs! To subscribe, please contact us via our online form and specify which of the following updates you would like to receive:

  • The Watershed Calendar, sent monthly by Dan Schwartz, features stream monitoring and other volunteer events across Northern Virginia,
  • The Green Breakfast emails are sent by Kory Kreiseder to advise about upcoming Green Breakfast events, and
  • Conservation Currents, the NVSWCD newsletter, is emailed by Lily Whitesell to individuals who prefer to receive an electronic copy. You can also subscribe to receive print copies of Conservation Currents.

Environmental Volunteer Opportunities

Are you looking to give back to your community, get involved in a fun volunteer activity, or simply get a few service hours in this year? The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District can help. Volunteers can:

Rain Garden Workshop for Homeowners

Rain Garden Cross Section

Rain gardens, also known as bioretention areas, are attractive landscape features that allow rain water and snow melt to infiltrate into the ground. A layer of mulch and plants intercept water running off streets, driveways, and rooftops, slowing its flow and removing pollutants before the water reaches local streams, the Occoquan River and the Potomac River, drinking water supplies for the region.

These rain garden workshops are in-depth, hands-on three-hour seminars that cover location and design, planting, tips for installation and a real-life exercise to help you take your rain garden from a good idea to a concrete reality. They are typically held 2-3 times per year. 


Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems: An Online Guide for Homeowners

Muddy boot in puddle: Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems Do your feet sink into a soggy area in the lawn, days after it has rained? Maybe there are bare spots in the yard that just will not go away. Does a river of runoff form every time it rains?

These issues may be indicators of a drainage or erosion problem on your property. Addressing these problems just got easier with NVSWCD’s new online resource, Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems: A Guide for Homeowners.

The guide provides step by step instructions to troubleshoot common drainage and erosion issues. Some problems come with simple fixes, like buying a splash guard or making sure your gutters are clean. But the guide also advises when you need to dig deeper or if it’s time to bring in the professionals.

When you take care of your land, not only does the home benefit, but the homeowner does, too. Property values rise, the grass will start growing, flowerbeds will flourish, and you can take pride in your landscape. Safely controlling runoff also means you will be more at ease when those flash flood warnings come up on the news.

Reducing runoff, fixing bare spots and erosion, soaking water into the soil and keeping nutrients on your land also has another advantage. From the crayfish in your local stream to bald eagles on the Potomac and blue crabs in the Chesapeake, the natural world will benefit too.

Troubleshoot your drainage and erosion problems by clicking here.

Pohick Lake Retrofits

Learn more about the Pohick lakes retrofits, including Lake Barton and Woodglen Lake.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), then known as the Soil Conservation Service, partnered with the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) and Fairfax County to construct six flood control dams in the County's Pohick Creek watershed. These dams have helped mitigate downstream flood damages and have provided improved water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities to the residents of Fairfax County for more than 30 years.

Based on studies completed by NRCS and Fairfax County, it was determined that the dam auxiliary spillways of four of the six dams needed rehabilitation to resist erosion when the spillway activates during large storm events and also to contain flows within the spillway during these events. The facilities that needed rehabilitation were Royal Lake, Woodglen Lake, Lake Barton, and Huntsman Lake.

Fairfax County, in partnership with NRCS and NVSWCD, has completed rehabilitation of three of these facilities, and construction on the fourth facility, Huntsman Lake, will take place in coming months. Fairfax County has also initiated a dredging program to restore the sediment pool capacity of these lakes. Dredging at Lake Barton was completed concurrently with the spillway rehabilitation, and dredging at Huntsman Lake will also be completed concurrently with the dam rehabilitation project.

Read more about dam rehabilitation and dredging.

Reforest Fairfax Tree Gifting Program

Reforest Fairfax card

When you need to say thank you, consider a gift that will last a lifetime: the gift of trees. Through Reforest Fairfax, a new partnership between Fairfax County Restoration Project and Fairfax ReLeaf, five native trees will be planted for each gift you give, and a beautiful card and certificate will be sent to your recipie

By giving trees, you will be helping to ensure a beautiful and healthy place to live and work long into the future. Trees clean our air and water, protect our streams, prevent soil erosion, lower city temperatures, and boost property values. When you give the gift of trees, you're not just saying thank you; you're helping to plant our future. To learn more or to give a gift, visit Reforest Fairfax.

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