NVSWCD Board Meeting Minutes May 25, 2010



Fairfax County Community Development Center (Herrity Building), Room 941
12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035
May 25, 2010


(As approved by the Board of Directors on June 22, 2010)

Mrs. Packard called the meeting to order at 9:45 a.m.   Those present were:

  • Jean Packard, Chairman, NVSWCD
  • John Peterson, Vice Chairman, NVSWCD
  • Johna Gagnon, Secretary, NVSWCD (arrived at 10:25)
  • George Lamb, Treasurer, NVSWCD
  • Adria Bordas, Director-Extension, NVSWCD
  • Bob Kohnke, Associate Director, NVSWCD
  • Harry Glasgow, Associate Director, NVSWCD
  • Jerry Peters, Associate Director, NVSWCD
  • Larry Wilkinson, District Conservationist, USDA-NRCS
  • Asad Rouhi, Urban Conservation Engineer, NVSWCD
  • Nick Kokales, Administrative and Technical Assistant, NVSWCD
  • Willie Woode, Senior Conservation Specialist, NVSWCD
  • Diane Hoffman, District Administrator, NVSWCD
  • Lily Whitesell, Outreach and Watershed Programs Coordinator, NVSWCD
  • Dan Schwartz, Soil Scientist, NVSWCD
  • Carrie Bevis, Science Fair Winner, J.E.B. Stuart High School
  • Nadia Thura, Science Fair Winner, J.E.B. Stuart High School
  • Johnny Kim, Science Fair Winner, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
  • Mrs. Kelly Kim

Regional Science Fair 1st Place Winner, Johnny Kim – The Efficacy of Carbon Sequestration of Wetlands. Johnny Kim, a junior at Thomas Jefferson HSS&T, described his examination of the function of created and natural wetlands.  He studied soil properties, including soil organic matter and total carbon, along with soil moisture and soil temperature, in four different wetlands – two created and two natural – over a two year period.  His findings showed that although soil organic matter was similar among the wetlands, total carbon content was significantly higher in the natural wetlands.  The results showed a close clustering of the data by ages of wetlands, indicating created wetlands are slowly catching up with natural wetlands.  He said that further study is necessary to fully investigate the abilities of created wetlands in sequestering carbon. He noted that while artificial wetlands provide some benefits, natural wetlands are far superior, so every effort should be made to preserve natural wetlands.  Mrs. Packard congratulated him on his excellent project and presented him with a check and a copy of Aldo Leopold’s book, A Sand County Almanac.  He also was given an opportunity to apply for District sponsorship to the VASWCD Youth Conservation Camp in July. 

Regional Science Fair 3rd Place Winners, Carrie Bevis and Nadia Thura (Than Nguyen was not present) Soil pH and Endomycorrhizal Association.  Carrie Bevis and Nadia Thura, seniors at J.E.B. Stuart High School, studied the relationship between increasing soil pH and the ability of endomycorrhizal fungi to colonize the roots of the host plant.  Endomycorrhizal fungi form a mutualistic relationship with host plants by increasing nutrient (primarily phosphorus) and water uptake in the plant in return for carbohydrates, and conferring resistance to pathogens and other environmental stresses.  The experiment was based on the hypothesis that increased soil alkalinity would render phosphorous particles less available for plant uptake, which would lead to a greater need for mycorrhizal association to transfer phosphorous to plant roots.  Pea plants were inoculated with endomycorrhizae and grown until the end of the vegetative stage.  Calcium carbonate was used to increase soil alkalinity.  An analysis of the roots showed that as pH increased, there was an increase in colonization.  Also, as stress increased, the fungi gave the plants more benefit. The benefits of the fungi decreased as the plant root systems became established.  The students concluded that fungi would be a natural alternative to fertilizer, especially since the plants seemed more dependent on the fungi when they were stressed.  They noted that their results may have agricultural implications by providing insight on the soil conditions favorable to these beneficial fungi in forming relationships with host plants.  Mrs. Packard congratulated them on their excellent project and presented each with a check and a copy of Aldo Leopold’s book, A Sand County Almanac.  They also were given an opportunity to apply for District sponsorship to the VASWCD Youth Conservation Camp in July. 

Approval of Minutes.  A motion (Peterson-Bordas) passed (4-0) to approve the Minutes of the April 27, 2010 Board Meeting.   

Treasurer’s Report.  A motion (Lamb-Bordas) passed (4-0) to accept and file for audit the Treasurer’s Report for April.  Mr. Lamb noted an increase in income.  Mrs. Hoffman explained that the Rain Barrel Program partners (Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment and NVSWCD) received a $10,000 donation from Dominion Power, which the District is holding for the partnership.

Nomination of Appointed Director.  Mr. Peterson noted that Mrs. Packard’s term as an appointed director will end on December 31, 2010.  A motion (Peterson-Bordas) passed (4-0) to nominate Mrs. Packard for re-appointment by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board to the NVSWCD Board of Directors. 

Approval of Soil and Water Quality Conservation Plans.   Mr. Wood presented five Soil and Water Quality Conservation Plans prepared for cooperators during the third quarter of FY 2010.  All five plans were new plans and all were for horse operations.  They comprise 29.8 acres on 6 parcels and include 550 linear feet of Resource Protection Area.  Mr. Woode described the details of the Eve-Jasper plan.  The site in an old horse stable that has not been in use for the last seven years.  It includes an old farm pond that had been breached and was silted-in, about 2 acres of woods, an intermittent stream, 1.5 acres of grassed (not pasture) area, a tennis court that has fallen into disrepair, and a residence.  A new landowner would like to re-develop the site in an environmentally sound way.  The features will include perimeter control and drainage protection fences, a heavy-use area, a run, partitioning the pasture area (including the reclaimed tennis court site) into four smaller pasture areas for rotational grazing, selective thinning of the wooded area, a manure composting facility near the stable, four watering troughs strategically placed so each serves two pastures, a vegetable garden, a tree-save area in the buffer area, and enhancing the pond by improving the dam and deepening the pool area.  Mr. Woode said the site will take about six months to establish and the owner will pay the cost.  (Mrs. Gagnon arrived)  A motion (Peterson-Gagnon) passed (5-0) to approve soil and water quality conservation plans for: the Moneys Corner Community Stable (5 acres on 1 parcel in Herndon in the Hunter Mill District with 6 horses);  Martha Muirhead (5 acres on 1 parcel in Clifton in the Springfield District with 2 horses and 200 feet of RPA;  Leighton Jones (6.5 acres on 2 parcels in Fairfax Station in the Springfield District with 4 horses and 350 feet of RPA);  Robin Eve-Jasper (5.3 acres on 1 parcel in Great Falls in the Dranesville District with 2 horses); and Meghan Fletcher (8 acres on 1 parcel in Clifton in the Springfield District with 3 horses). 

Pohick Creek Watershed PL-566 Project – Ceremony at Woodglen Lake.  Mr. Peterson said the May 15 ceremony to recognize the rehabilitation work at Woodglen Lake went well.  He was able to impart some history about the watershed program and the other dignitaries, Chairman Bulova, Supervisor Cook, Congressman Connolly, and NRCS Regional Conservationist (East) Leonard Jordan all had something different and appropriate to say.  The federal portion of the funding for this project is being provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Ms. Whitesell showed pictures taken during the ceremony, including Bonnie Brae students who served refreshments and the Boy Scout color guard.    

VASWCD Area II.  Mr. Peterson said the VASWCD Area II Spring Meeting was held on May 19 at Wetland Studies and Solutions in Gainesville.  In the morning, there were reports by agencies and organizations and presentations about WSSI and the Prince William Chesapeake Bay-Friendly Horse Farm Project, and in the afternoon, there were tours of both facilities.  On June 9 at 9:00 a.m., there will be an Area II conference call to discuss legislative items for the VASWCD 2011 legislative agenda.  Mr. Peterson said VASWCD should continue to encourage exploration of an urban cost-share and tax credit program.  Mrs. Hoffman mentioned the need to find a way to count volunteer efforts toward the nutrient and sediment reduction goals of the Chesapeake Bay Program.  On June 11 at 11 a.m., the Prince William SWCD will host a Big Reveal to showcase the transformation of a horsekeeping operation that was in poor condition into the Chesapeake Bay-Friendly Horse Farm – a demonstration of how to properly plan and manage a horsekeeping operation.    

Soil Morphology Training.  Mr. Schwartz said the County modified its regulations to allow professional engineers trained in soil morphology to determine the water table throughout the year.  Previously, unless the determination was made by a professional soil scientist, a wetlands delineator, or a professional geologist, it could only be done between November and May.  This information is used for siting rain gardens, infiltration trenches and other stormwater practices.  NVSWCD partnered with DPWES, the Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists and Virginia Tech to teach professional engineers about soil morphology which would enable them to determine the water table throughout the year, using color and other indicators.   The two-day course consisted of classroom instruction and field work at seven soil pits throughout the county, located and dug with the help of local soil firms.  Fifty people took the class, including 16 professional engineers that took a one-hour certification test.  Plans are to repeat the training every two or three years to re-certify those who were certified previously and to provide training for others.  Also, an abbreviated version of the course is planned for county staff.  Mr. Rouhi said he has heard many positive comments about the success of the course, as one of the most useful workshops in recent years.

Green Breakfast.   Mr. Glasgow said that Mr. McGlone gave an excellent presentation about Forest Health and Fire at the May 8 Green Breakfast.  Of special interest was learning that the oak hickory forest exists because of fire.  At the July Green Breakfast, Jim Zook, Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning will talk about Managing Growth, and the many aspects of this complex subject, including growth and land use changes, transportation, the environment, green initiatives, the past, the present and the future. 

Tree Commission.  Mr. Glasgow said that the Celebrated Trees of Fairfax County program is progressing.  Also, the Tree Commission is working on setting up the Tree Stewards Program.  Mrs. Packard suggested reaching out to those, particularly in the Asian culture, who often see trees as a hazard, rather than their benefits to air quality, water quality, energy conservation and aesthetics.  

Virginia Cooperative Extension.  Ms. Bordas said the Master Gardeners are at most Farmers’ Markets, answering questions about insects and plants.  The 4-H camp is nearly full. 

Announcements.  Mr. Lamb said that the Park Authority is looking into the possibility of daylighting a stream on the Hogue Property.  He also said that a regular contributor to Channel 10 is interested in doing a show with the NVSWCD.  Mr. Peterson said the VASWCD Board will meet June 22-24 and he would be happy to relay any information. 

Engineering Standards Review Committee (ESRC).  Mr. Kohnke said that the ESRC did not meet in May.

Conservation Currents.  Mrs. Packard congratulated Lily Whitesell on her first issue of Conservation Currents, which features several articles about trees and tree-related issues. 

Agricultural Stewardship Act.  Mr. Woode said that the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has received a complaint under the Agricultural Stewardship Act for a property in Fairfax Station with a possible violation having to do with piling manure in an area that drains to the headwaters of Sandy Run.  The property owner is a NVSWCD cooperator and if needed, Mr. Woode will advise the owner on ways to remedy any problems that are causing water pollution.  In a related matter, Mrs. Hoffman said that some of the horse operations in the county that have existed for years, are becoming subject to zoning violations, such as the proximity of barns to access roads. 

USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Mr. Wilkinson said that several staff at NRCS headquarters in Washington, DC are looking into the possibility of developing a conservation plan for Eight Oaks on Kirby Road in McLean, where Hugh Hammond Bennett lived when he was chief of the Soil Conservation Service.  They have met with the current landowner and the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, which holds a conservation easement on the property.  He said that the main problems are erosion related to changes in land ownership adjacent to the property and the development of 10 to 12 lots in recent years.   

Mrs. Packard adjourned the meeting at 11:30 a.m.  

Respectfully submitted, Diane Hoffman's signature
Diane Hoffman

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