NVSWCD Board Meeting Minutes November 23, 2010



Fairfax County Community Development Center (Herrity Building), Room 941
12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035
November 23, 2010


(As corrected and approved by the Board of Directors on January 25, 2011)

Mrs. Packard called the meeting to order at 9:40 a.m.   Those present were:

  • Jean Packard, Chairman, NVSWCD
  • John Peterson, Vice Chairman, NVSWCD
  • Johna Gagnon, Secretary, NVSWCD
  • George Lamb, Treasurer, NVSWCD
  • Adria Bordas, Director-Extension, NVSWCD
  • Bob Kohnke, Associate Director, NVSWCD
  • Debbie Cross, Conservation District Coordinator, Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (10:10)
  • Jim McGlone, Virginia Department of Forestry
  • Larry Wilkinson, District Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Asad Rouhi, Urban Conservation Engineer, NVSWCD
  • Nick Kokales, Administrative and Technical Assistant, NVSWCD
  • Willie Woode, Senior Conservation Specialist, NVSWCD
  • Diane Hoffman, Administrator, NVSWCD
  • Dan Schwartz, Soil Scientist, NVSWCD
  • Lily Whitesell, Outreach and Watershed Programs Coordinator, NVSWCD
  • Bijan Sistani, Code Analysis, DPWES
  • Jan Levitt, Code Analysis, DPWES
  • Jack Weyant, Environmental Facilities Inspection Division, DPWES
  • Dean Merrill, Cooperator, Sunshire Stables
  • Debra Merrill, Cooperator, Sunshire Stables

2010 Cooperator of the Year – Bijan Sistani.  The Board presented the NVSWCD 2010 Cooperator of the Year Award to Bijan Sistani.  Mr. Sistani was recognized for his partnership and the many ways he works cooperatively with the District to conserve and protect natural resources.  This includes integrating the new soil survey into the County’s codes and processes and organizing the Soil Morphology Training course that enables professional engineers to determine soil infiltration capabilities throughout the year.  NVSWCD is a member of the Engineering Standards Review Committee and appreciates the outstanding job Mr. Sistani does to coordinate the work of the committee.  NVSWCD staff invite Mr. Sistani to accompany them on site visits when geotechnical knowledge is needed.  During these visits, Mr. Sistani provides homeowners with excellent geotechnical information and useful advice that help them solve problems.  Mr. Sistani thanked the Board for the award and said he enjoys working with NSVWCD staff. 

2010 Clean Water Farm Award – Sunshire Stables.  The Board presented the NSVWCD 2010 Clean Water Farm Award to Dean and Debra Merrill, who own and operate Sunshire Stables, an 11-acre property located in the Occoquan Watershed.  Mr. Woode narrated a presentation, describing the Merrills’ excellent management of their horse-keeping operation.  The Merrills have been working with the District since 2000 and have demonstrated a genuine desire to manage their property in a way to reduce pollution and protect water quality.  Their property includes two streams and a pond, and hence, much of it is in Resource Protection Areas.  The Merrills have established vegetated buffers to protect the RPAs and to restrict access.  They maintain an effective rotational grazing system on their property, and also lease three additional fields, which improves their rotational grazing system.  They maintain a heavy-use area, which further protects the pastures.  In 2007, the Merrills participated in the Virginia Agricultural BMP Cost-Share Program to construct a four-cell manure composting structure.  This project was facilitated by NVSWCD.  Mr. Merrill thanked the Board and said they appr3ciated the advice and technical assistance provided by Mr. Woode. 

Approval of Minutes. A motion (Gagnon-Bordas) passed (5-0) to approve the Minutes of the October 26, 2010 Board Meeting, as presented. 

Treasurer’s Report.  A motion (Lamb-Peterson) passed (5-0) to accept and file for audit the Treasurer’s Report for October 2010.  Mr. Lamb commended staff on the narrative information submitted as part of the budget request to Fairfax County, which highlights the valuable programs and services provided to the County.  He noted that the request was similar to previous years, with an additional $3,000 requested for an increase in health benefit costs.  He noted that the request is for $426,000 but that more than $1,000,000 in benefits to the County is identified.  This includes significant resources that the District leverages, benefitting the County and its residents.  

Green Breakfast.  Mrs. Packard said Charlie Grymes, an instructor at George Mason University and member of the Prince William Conservation Alliance, gave a very interesting presentation at the November 13 Green Breakfast that included a geological and historical description of the Northern Virginia area and a speculation about how the area and the environment will look in 20 years.  The next Green Breakfast will be held on January 8, 2011.  Mrs. Hoffman will follow up with former Delegate Margi Vanderhye, to invite her to talk about environmental issues and the legislative process and also the outlook for environmental legislation in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.  Mrs. Gagnon noted that also on January 8, the Northern Virginia delegation will hold a listening session at the Government Center, and that people could attend both events. 

Soil and Water Quality Conservation Plans.  Mr. Woode presented a plan for Mt. Vernon Estate and gardens. The 500 acre estate has 40 acres dedicated to agricultural activities.  The farming operation includes several different types of animals that typically would be found on a Colonial farm.  Initially, the farm manager sought a solution for improving the wash water runoff from the hog pen.  Mr. Woode suggested and then prepared a plan for the entire agricultural operation.  The plan addresses the runoff problem and recommends practices to eliminate the gully erosion in the pastures.  Mr. Woode also recommended a rotational grazing system and other pasture improvements.  He noted that the farm has a good composting system, using windrows, and that the farm includes 150 linear feet of RPA.  The approved plan will bring the operation into compliance with the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance.  A motion (Peterson-Gagnon) passed (5-0) to approve the Soil and Water Quality Conservation Plan for Mt. Vernon Estate

Engineering Standards Review Committee (ESRC).  Mr. Kohnke said the ESRC did not meet in November and will not meet in December.  He said that the Board of Supervisors has approved the modifications to the Tree Ordinance.  He commented that BJ Sistani does a nice job of providing staff coordination for the committee, and also that his predecessor, Jan Levitt, did a good job.

Pohick Creek Watershed PL-566.  Mr. Kohnke reported that the District has received the Operation and Maintenance inspection report for the six PL-566 structures, which was prepared by Don Lacquement, DPWES.  Copies have been provided to board members and to Larry Wilkinson, NRCS District Conservationist.  Mr. Peterson said that he has submitted an abstract to the National Watershed Coalition to make a presentation on the rehabilitation of Royal Lake and Woodglen Lake at its meeting in Oklahoma City, May 14-18, 2011. 

Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD).  Mr. Peterson said that VASWCD Legislative Co-Chair Don Wells asked him to arrange a meeting with Senator Whipple to discuss the Association’s legislative priorities.  With the help of Mrs. Gagnon, a meeting has been scheduled for November 30.  Mrs. Gagnon, Mr. Peterson and Mr. Wells will attend the meeting.

Environmental Quality Advisory Council (EQAC).  Mr. Lamb announced that EQAC‘s annual public hearing will be held on November 29 at the Government Center.  There will be remote access from the South County Government Center.

Federation of Citizens Association.  Mr. Lamb said that he will speak to the Federation of Citizens Associations on December 16 about urban conservation.  Ms. Whitesell also will attend and will bring a display and literature. 

Virginia Cooperative Extension.  Ms. Bordas said that the USDA-FSA (Farm Services Agency) has issued a drought disaster declaration for the counties of Fairfax and Arlington, as well as several other counties in Virginia and Maryland.  This will allow farmers in these areas to apply for grants and low-interest loans.  She has forwarded information to Mr. Woode.  The 4-H pecan sale supports the Clyde Jackson scholarship fund.  Mr. Jackson worked with at-risk children in Fairfax County.  Last year, 79 children from Fairfax County received scholarships to attend a week-long camp at the Front Royal 4-H Center.  Virginia Cooperative Extension’s restructuring plan is moving forward.  Implementation teams are being developed throughout the state.  Each team will have nine members composed of staff, volunteers and staff from Virginia Tech.  Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William Counties will comprise the regional team for this area and will be the most urban team in the state. 

Conservation Currents – Rain Gardens, Trees and Composters.  Mrs. Packard commended Ms. Whitesell on the recent issue of Conservation Currents, which features an excellent article she wrote about the rain garden that Gretchen Stark constructed after attending a workshop sponsored by NVSWCD, NVRC and Arlington County.  Ms. Stark received technical assistance from Asad Rouhi, NVSWCD Urban Conservation Engineer.  The issue also has an interesting article written by Mr. McGlone, Virginia Department of Forestry, about what causes the different Color of Trees.  Another article, by NVSWCD Soil Scientist Dan Schwartz, describes a new District initiative – Build Your Own Composter.  Workshops will be held in 2011, starting in January. 

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Mr. Wilkinson said there will be recertification training for those with private pesticide applicator licenses.  The training will be December 2 in Leesburg.  The next Joint Employee Development training will be in Madison on December 14.  On December 20, the Winter Forage Conference will be held in Weyers Cave.  This training, as well as the VANTAGE (VA no-till agriculture) Conference that will be held in Harrisonburg in February, will be useful to those who need nutrient management recertification.   

Department of Conservation and Recreation.   Mrs. Cross reported: 

  • The VASWCD Annual Meeting will be held in Roanoke December 5-7.  Area II elections will take place.  Jim Christian, the current Area II Vice Chair has agreed to serve as Chair.  A nominee for Vice Chair is needed.  John Peterson is chair of the nominating committee. 
  • NVSWCD is fortunate that the PL-566 dams in Fairfax County are owned and operated by the County; however, in Virginia 104 dams are operated independently by SWCDs.  Legislation passed several years ago provided funding for dam break inundation zone studies for these dams.  Of these, approximately 75 studies are in the process of being completed.  Studies have not been started for the 30 other dams.  There is a concern that a current pause and possible redirection to begin funding the actual rehabilitation projects may result in there not being a commitment to fund the rest of the studies.  Several of these dams in need of studies are in Area II.  The Culpeper and Thomas Jefferson SWCDs are the most affected districts and would like some assurance that their dams will receive studies and be rehabilitated also.  This issue may be discussed at the annual meeting.
  • In response to Senator Hanger’s Senate Bill 346, a report that addresses voluntary agricultural and forestry data has been sent to the Governor and the House and Senate leadership.  The next step is largely dependent upon the 2011 General Assembly.  Phase I includes using six pilot districts to collect data, which will help in the development of a protocol for collecting data.
  • The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board may be transitioning from six meetings per year to four quarterly meetings.  This may have an effect on when director vacancies will be filled, as well as on stormwater regulations and dam permits.  As part of Virginia’s government reform initiative, consideration is being given to merging several boards and commissions.  Also, a recommendation has been made to change the Soil and Water Conservation Board to the Stormwater Management Board.  Mr. Peterson said this indicates a lack of understanding about the work of districts and that he and Don Wells have indicated they would like to talk with those who have suggested this idea.

Tree Commission.   Mr. McGlone reported the Tree Commission is moving forward with promoting the concept of trees as infrastructure.  Another initiative is to work with trails groups about the importance of trees to trails. 

Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF).  Mr. McGlone said the State of the Forests report is available on the Department of Forestry website.  He noted that Fairfax ReLeaf has been making efforts to increase its visibility.  Three County Supervisors have visited, or will visit, planting sites.

Lake Barcroft Watershed Improvement District (LBWID).  Mrs. Hoffman reported that the District has received a copy of the FY 2009 audit for the LBWID.       

Mrs. Packard adjourned the meeting at 11:05 a.m.  

Respectfully submitted, Diane Hoffman's signature
Diane Hoffman

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