FY2010 Mid-Year Review


FY 2010 Mid-Year Review

July 1 - December 31, 2009

Goal 1: Provide Leadership in Natural Resource Conservation.

  • Directors and Associates serve on several county boards, including the Tree Commission and the Engineering Standards Review Committee.
  • Directors and Associates provide leadership at the federal, regional and state level by helping to develop legislative agendas and through their work with the Potomac Council and Potomac Watershed Roundtable, the VASWCD and the Virginia SWCBoard.
  • Staff serve on a number county committees.
  • The Environmental Coordinating Committee (ECC) meets monthly and coordinates input for EQAC’s Annual Report on the Environment, and responses to the Report’s recommendations.A subcommittee develops the annual Environmental Improvement Program to carry out the Board of Supervisor’s Environmental Plan.
  • The District is invited to a monthly meeting, hosted by the director of DPWES, to discuss stormwater and PFM-related issues.
  • Another committee, with both public and private interests represented, is studying the problem of how to dispose of dredged spoils; it is exploring economic opportunities for recycling the spoils along with two other natural resources, composted waste from horse operations and yard debris.
  • The District’s soil scientist is providing leadership and technical assistance as the County integrates the new Soil Survey into Codes and the PFM, and develops ways to make information available to industry and the general public.
  • The District demonstrates leadership in innovation through initiatives such as the Falls Hill Residential LID Demonstration project, as well as the design and construction of a demonstration rain garden at Merrimac Farm.
  • The District designed a bioretention facility to help the County solve a long-standing flooding problem at Williams Lane.
  • It also designed a low-cost solution and provided construction oversight to stabilize an eroding channel for a homeowner in the Occoquan watershed.
  • Facilities that have been designed and installed by the District in the past are monitored, maintained and improved, as warranted, and continue to serve a demonstration projects for innovative ideas.
  • The District continues to facilitate the $1.2 million Kingstowne II stream restoration project, a natural channel design, which is funded primarily by mitigation money.
  • During rezoning reviews and site plan reviews, and when advising the development community, District staff suggest better site design and stormwater management techniques.
  • The District spearheads public involvement by bringing environmental issues and current initiatives to the community through presentations at the bi-monthly Green Breakfasts.Topics included reducing your carbon footprint, preserving agriculture in urbanizing communities and tree initiatives in Fairfax County.
  • The District encourages community involvement through programs such as storm drain marking, stream monitoring, rain barrels, and stream cleanups, by publishing Conservation Currents, and by raising awareness and providing practical advice on how to implement environmentally-friendly solutions to natural resource management problems.
  • The District participates in the Fairfax County Restoration Project, which began in response to the degradation resulting from construction of the I-495 HOT lanes, and has expanded its focus to encouraging homeowners to adopt environmentally-friendly practices, including using native plants and installing rain gardens.
  • The District is a sponsor of the Fairfax County chapter of the Master Naturalist Program, and provides instructors and volunteer opportunities for participants.

Goal 2: Provide High Quality Technical Assistance.

  • Provide high quality technical assistance to constituents, including the agricultural community, the development and business community, government agencies and officials, special interest groups, homeowner and civic associations, schools, youth groups, and the general public.
  • For lands in agricultural use, mainly horse operations, seven new soil and water quality conservation plans, addressing erosion, nutrient management and pest management, were developed for 43.2 acres and include 1,905 linear feet of vegetated buffers to protect streams, wetlands and other water bodies (RPAs). Thirteen plans were revised, covering 71.1 acres and including 3,960 linear feet of RPA. Five of the plans were special plans, including three Agricultural and Forestal Districts, 1 veterinary clinic, and solution for a County Code violation. In addition to preparing plans, assistance also was provided to 33 managers of horse-keeping operations.
  • Assistance to government agencies and the development community includes comprehensive environmental evaluations for 59 rezoning and development-related applications.
  • Comments were provided to the Department of Planning and Zoning that included the properties of soils, erosion potential, drainage, storm water management, the impact on the surrounding environment, and suggestions for better site design.
  • Additional assistance was provided to the community during an on-site meeting to discuss the proposed rezoning at the Bill Page Honda site in Falls Church, as well as possible modifications to lessen the impact on the nearby stream.
  • The erosion and sediment controls and stormwater management aspects of 9 site development plans were reviewed with comments provided to Land Development Services. Also, 3 more plans were reviewed for County plan reviewers and 2 plans were reviewed for consultants. Other examples of technical assistance to agencies include the design and construction assistance for the Williams Lane project, provided to Stormwater Planning and MSMD, and assistance with the design for a rain garden at the Noman Cole facility, provided to Waste Water Collection.
  • Special assistance is provided for stream channel monitoring at Huntley Meadows, Vienna Estates and Laurel Hill. Assistance was provided to Land Development Services and a developer to improve the design of an outfall to parkland in a Metro West project.
  • One soil infiltration test was provided for a County project and two soil reports were prepared for taxation purposes.
  • Staff responded to 26 requests by County staff to help solve problems with drainage and erosion.
  • The Merrimac Farm project provided technical assistance to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and stormwater management planning is being provided to the Bureau of Land Management property on Mason Neck.
  • The District is a co-sponsor the Pohick Creek Watershed PL-566 Project and participated in the annual inspection of the structures in the fall.
  • It also is participating in the projects to rehabilitate Royal Lake (completed in the fall) and Woodglen Lake and Lake Barton (planning and community engagement is underway), which are being carried out by the County and NRCS.
  • Staff participated in GIS Day with a display showing several ways the District uses GIS to support its work.
  • Eight sites were judged in the fall for the County’s Land Conservation Awards program, and a powerpoint presentation was developed for the awards ceremony held in January.
  • Technical assistance was provided to 103 homeowners and homeowner associations to solve drainage, erosion and other land management problems; this included 48 site visits.
  • Additional special assistance is provided for projects such as the Akers channel stabilization project.
  • District staff responded to 11 requests from pond owners for assistance with pond problems.
  • Staff responded by email or phone to 696 other requests for technical assistance and information.
  • Soils information was provided to 66 consultants, developers, realtors, and homeowners.

Goal 3 – Increase Environmental Stewardship Through Outreach and Education.

  • 2,800 copies of Conservation Currents are distributed via mail and the County courier.
  • The summer issue included articles on Lyme disease, the Fairfax County Restoration Project, the importance of the native bee population, science fair projects and the International Coastal Cleanup.The fall and winter issue included articles on Re-Build (giving second life to construction materials and promoting green building and green jobs), bottled vs. tap water, why not to tidy up the winter landscape, frost seeding of horse pastures and the annual seedling sale. Most articles are posted on the District’s website and several were re-printed in other publications.
  • 527 brochures and other publications and information itemswere distributed from July through December. Also, 217 publications were distributed at 2 exhibits and during presentations.
  • The Rain Garden Design and Construction Guide for Homeowners in Northern Virginia, produced in partnership with the Park Authority, and the Residential Low Impact Landscaping Guide, developed for homeowners during the Falls Hill project, as well as the Rain Garden Study, continue to be distributed.
  • The District assisted the National Association of Conservation Districts with “Put a LID on it!” – a magazine article on Low Impact Development.
  • A Watershed Calendar is emailed monthly to approximately 893 recipients, including stream monitors and others interested in watershed issues and events.
  • Six notices and announcements about events and programs in the county were sent to 545 recipients on the Green Breakfast email distribution list.
  • Announcements and information posted on the website are continually updated.
  • Between July and September, there were 15 projects completed in the Storm Drain Marking education program. A total of 7,695 households were educated about not dumping in storm drains and about the proper disposal of potential pollutants. 1,363 storm drains were labeled as an on-going reminder. Approximately 209 volunteers contributed 576 hours to carry out the projects.
  • Between July and December, the Rain Barrel program distributed 214 rain barrels with 151 of them in Fairfax County. One build your own event was held for 34 participants and 78 people received their rain barrels at distribution events.
  • The volunteer stream monitoring program includes approximately 30 active sites and 50 volunteers who conducted biological monitoring sessions in the summer and fall. Monitors contributed 597 volunteer hours. There were 21 training sessions and 4 special monitoring events. Three schools and several parks are involved in the monitoring program.
  • During the International Coastal Cleanup, 805 people removed 15.3 tons of trash from 25 sites throughout the county. The Park Authority, Reston Association and Mason Neck Lions Club sponsor several large clean ups as part of this event.
  • Five teams in three high schools are training for the Envirothon competitions in the spring. District staff are facilitating training and planning for the local and regional competitions where high school students demonstrate their knowledge of natural resources and explore a current environmental issue.
  • District staff made 16 presentations to 787 members of community organizations and schools. These included training for Master Gardeners, Soils Art, and rain garden workshops for homeowners. A 3-hour class on soils and geology and a 6-hour field trip were provided for 25 Master Naturalist students in September. Another class and field trip were provided in November.
  • In addition, the watershed model, Enviroscape, was demonstrated 5 times to 76 people.

Goal 4: Strengthen and Facilitate Partnerships.

  • Partnerships play a significant role in the District’s strength and effectiveness, as well as its ability to leverage resources.
  • The District works with many partners to carry out programs, including thirteen Fairfax County offices.This includes collaborating on projects, participating on committees and teams, and providing assistance as requested. Subjects include county programs, policies and regulations, stream stabilization, stream monitoring, ponds, E&S, better site design, stormwater management, storm drain marking and NPS education, outreach and education, soils, GIS, LID demonstration projects, improving habitat, and solving natural resource problems.
  • NRCS is a partner on the Soil Survey, the Pohick Project, and with conservation planning.
  • The District works with scouting groups, service organizations, and homeowner and civic associations to implement the storm drain marking program.
  • On stream cleanups, the District works with scouting groups, DPWES, the Park Authority, Clean Virginia Waterways and many stream/watershed groups.
  • The stream monitoring program works with Reston Association, citizen groups and schools throughout the county.
  • The rain barrel program partners include Arlington County, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, Alexandria and Falls Church.
  • The Kingstowne II project includes the US Army Corps of Engineers, The Nature Conservancy, the Kingstowne Residential Owners Corporation, VHB (an engineering firm), and DPWES. Projects, such as the Akers channel stabilization, involve several partners, including grant funders and businesses.
  • The District and the Lake Barcroft Watershed Improvement District maintain a close working relationship.
  • The District cooperates with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Master Gardener Program on the seedling program and technical assistance.
  • Regionally, the District cooperates with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and participates in, and provides support for, the Potomac Council and the Potomac Watershed Roundtable.
  • The District collaborates with the Virginia Department of Forestry on seedling programs, homeowner assistance, and the Master Naturalist program.
  • The District works with the Department of Conservation and Recreation on issues of common concern, including the Cost-Share Program.
  • The District participates in the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, with board members serving as officers and members of committees at state and national levels.
  • The District maintains communication and relationships with state officials, legislators,.and other organizations.
  • The District strives to maintain communication links with all of its partners through programs, meetings, letters, Board minutes, newsletters, and reports.

Goal 5: Ensure a Strong Organization to Fully Meet Responsibilities and Goals.

  • The District’s five major Strategic Plan goals were used to develop an Annual Plan of Work for FY 2010.
  • A budget for FY 2011 was prepared, approved, and submitted to Fairfax County, which is the primary funding source for the District’s operating budget.
  • The District also receives an operating grant from DCR.
  • The District requested and received other grants and funding assistance for special projects, such as annual grants from DEQ for the volunteer stream monitoring program and a $100,000 grant from the Bureau of Land Management for planning and implementing stormwater management practices over a five-year period.
  • The District derives a small income from the annual seedling program and interest on its bank deposits.
  • It also is reimbursed approximately $7,000 annually for supporting the Potomac Council and the Potomac Watershed Roundtable, including meeting planning and facilitation, financial administration, events, reports and a website.
  • This year a Biennial Report was produced.
  • The rain barrel program funds a part-time Environmental Educator to carryout the program.
  • The District practices good financial management with strong financial controls in place.
  • The District leverages funding for projects such as the Kingstowne II stream restoration.
  • Periodic financial reports and program reviews and reports are prepared in an accurate and timely manner for the board, County, DCR and for inclusion in reports by other agencies.
  • On-going communication is maintained with funders and partners, helping to ensure they are aware of the District, its capabilities, and its work.
  • The District has the technological capacity to carry out its activities effectively, with access to the internet and a web presence, both of which are provided by Fairfax County. Email communication allows the District to conduct business faster and more efficiently.
  • The use of GIS enhances technical assistance provided to customers.It also is the platform for the Soil Survey maps.
  • Staff attended 16 workshops, trainings and conferences.
  • Directors also attend conferences and meetings.
  • Volunteers are recruited for many District programs, including land conservation awards judging, scholarship evaluations, stream monitoring, storm drain education, Envirothon, manning exhibits, and the rain barrel and seedling programs.
  • By strengthening its capacity, the District strengthens its ability to provide technical and educational services that protect natural resources and promote environmental stewardship.

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