NVSWCD Board Meeting Minutes April 26, 2011



Fairfax County Community Development Center (Herrity Building), Room 941
12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035
April 26, 2011


(As corrected and approved by the Board of Directors on May 24, 2011)

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

  • Jean Packard, Chairman, NVSWCD
  • Johna Gagnon, Secretary, NVSWCD
  • Adria Bordas, Director-Extension, NVSWCD
  • Bob Kohnke, Associate Director, NVSWCD
  • Jerry Peters, Associate Director, NVSWCD
  • Debbie Cross, Conservation District Coordinator, DCR
  • Jim McGlone, Virginia Department of Forestry
  • Rachel Campbell, Science Fair winner
  • Diane Hoffman, Administrator, NVSWCD
  • Lily Whitesell, Outreach and Watershed Programs Coordinator, NVSWCD
  • Dan Schwartz, Soil Scientist, NVSWCD
  • Nick Kokales, Administrative and Technical Assistant, NVSWCD
  • Willie Woode, Senior Conservation Specialist, NVSWCD

Science Fair project – Grass Species and Nitrogen Runoff Rachael Campbell, a sophomore at West Potomac High School, explained her project which tested three grass species (Kentucky bluegrass, Rye grass and Tall fescue) to see if the species had an effect on the amount of nitrogen runoff.  The results showed that Rye grass produced the lowest nitrogen levels found in fertilizer runoff and Kentucky bluegrass produced the highest.  She noted that Rye grass dies in the summer, which would make it less desirable.  However, while Tall fescue produced traces of runoff, the amount was significantly less than that from the Kentucky bluegrass.  Mr. Rouhi suggested, if she continues the experiment next year, asking a lab to test the amount of oxygen in the roots of the various species.  Noting that Kentucky bluegrass and Tall fescue are non-native species, Mr. McGlone suggested adding native warm season grasses to the species tested.  Mrs. Packard congratulated Ms. Campbell on her project, which received an Honorable Mention.  She presented her with a certificate and a copy of Aldo Leopold’s book, A Sand County Almanac

Approval of Minutes. A motion (Gagnon-Bordas) passed (3-0) to approve the Minutes of the March 22, 2011 Board Meeting. 

Envirothon.  Mr. Schwartz reported that there were in-school competitions at Madison and Langley High Schools, to determine the teams representing these schools.  Seven teams (from Madison, Langley, George Marshall and Centerville High Schools and Hidden Pond Nature Center) competed at the local Envirothon competition held at Hidden Oaks Nature Center on April 1.  The top two teams (Hidden Pond Nature Center and James Madison High School) advanced to the Area II competition hosted by the John Marshall SWCD on April 13.  Hidden Pond came in first in the area competition and advanced to the state competition, which will be held on May 22-23 at Camp Hanover in Mechanicsville.  The coach of the Hidden Pond team is Emily Smith, a Master Naturalist and parent of one of the team members.

Fairfax County Soil Survey.  Mr. Schwartz said the amendments that will incorporate the new Soil Survey into the PFM are being introduced as a board item at the April 26 Board of Supervisors meeting.  This will begin a public comment period prior to their being considered for Board approval in June.  

Treasurer’s Report.  Mrs. Hoffman reviewed the Treasurer’s Report.  She noted it included the proceeds from three CDs, which will be used to help fund next year’s budget.  Also, each quarter, an amount is placed in a vehicle replacement fund, so that the truck can be replaced in about ten years.  Soil Survey funds were used to purchase a piece of equipment that is used when infiltration measurements are made for rain gardens.  The device detects the water surface elevation.  A motion (Bordas-Gagnon) passed (3-0) to accept and file for audit the Treasurer’s Reports for March 2011 and for the 3rd Quarter of FY 2011, as presented. 

2011 Seedling Program.  Mr. Kokales reported a successful seedling sale of approximately 6,500 seedlings.  There were 434 packages with 2 each of 5 species of deer resistant shrubs and small trees and 194 packages with 2 each of three tree species.  The net profit was $4,169, which will be used to help fund the following year’s budget.  Remaining seedlings were given to Fairfax ReLeaf.  Mrs. Hoffman said the team that put together the two packages on April 13 included: Adria Bordas, Jim McGlone, Harry Glasgow, Jerry Peters, Bob Kohnke, the Staff and intern Adele Kuo.  The staff and intern Devy Jagasia distributed the packages on April 14 and 15.

VASWCD Area II Spring Meeting.  Mrs. Hoffman reported that many had been invited to the VASWCD Area II Spring Meeting on May 6 in Charlottesville, but no one is able to attend, primarily because of timing and other commitments. 

Projects in Process.  Staff provided an update on several projects: 

  • Churchill Road Elementary School Project.  Ms. Whitesell said that she and Mr. Rouhi were working with the school and school maintenance staff to build a ’kid friendly’ rain garden to handle runoff from a parking lot and solve a drainage problem, while still preserving a nearby school garden.  The school plans to apply for a NFWF grant.  Mr. Rouhi said it would be a large rain garden, approximately 1,600 sq. ft., with an underdrain and overflow structure.  A panel of landscape professionals will be invited to offer suggestions.  The school would use its own crew, which also would provide a training opportunity for its staff.  School personnel have said there are similar opportunities throughout the county and having a successful elementary school-friendly rain garden would provide an excellent model for others.  Mrs. Packard said to keep in mind that projects that also improve the appearance of an area are potential candidates for Community Appearance Alliance awards.  
  • Rain Garden Project at the Packard Center.  Mr. Rouhi said he is designing a rain garden just outside the entrance to the Packard Center, which will be built in honor of Sally Ormsby.  Funding will come from the Sally Ormsby Memorial Fund and installation assistance from the Park Authority.  Merrifield Gardens will participate and use it as a training opportunity for its staff. 
  • Controlling runoff at Green Springs.  Mrs. Hoffman said the District has been asked to help identify solutions for an erosion and drainage problem near the Horticulture Center.  Mr. Rouhi has visited the site and is developing recommendations.  The park plans to apply for a grant, which the District would be invited to support. 
  • Rain Garden at Marymount.  Mr. Rouhi isworking with Marymount University and Arlington County to solve a drainage problem next to the campus library.  He is assisting with the design and installation of a rain garden that will include a monitoring station and also will serve as a research facility for the school.  Mr. Rouhi is coordinating with Angler Environmental about building the facility.Because of funding limitations, the rain garden may be built in one year and the monitoring equipment added the second year. 
  • Sanitary Sewer/Streambank Stabilization on Little Pimmit Run.  Mrs. Hoffmansaid the District has proposed to DPWES Waste Water Collection and MSMD to stabilize an exposed sanitary sewer line, located just upstream from the Little Pimmit Run Stream Restoration Project and the bank stabilization project on Dr. Rossi’s property, and just below a large gabion wall DPWES had installed several years ago.  Mr. Rouhi has proposed using streambank stabilization techniques similar to those used on Dr. Rossi’s earlier project.  Also, a drainage problem on Dr. Rossi’s property, which is contributing to the problem, would be corrected and stabilized.  Mr. Rouhi has consulted with VHB on the design.  The District plans to contract with Angler Environmental for the installation, which is the same firm that installed the other projects on Little Pimmit Run.  Since the project may best be implemented as a DPWES maintenance project, the District and DPWES are working out the process for doing the work and transferring money to the District.  A motion (Bordas-Gagnon) passed (3-0) delegating authority to the Chair to make decisions, prior to the May 24 Board meeting, that are needed in order to move the project forward. 

VASWCD Scholarship Application.  Mrs. Hoffman said that Jasmyne Grismore’s scholarship application was forwarded to VASWCD for the state-wide competition.   She is an outstanding student with a strong commitment to community service and a keen interest in environmental studies and sustainable development.  The District’s panel of judges included:  John Okay, Judy Okay, Laura McNichol, Andi Ceisler, Lily Whitesell and Dan Schwartz. 

Environmental Excellence Award.  Mrs. Hoffman recommended the District nominate Colin Riley for a Fairfax County Environmental Excellence award.  He is responsible for the removal of a tremendous amount of trash in county streams and drainage areas.  He organizes and manages all of the volunteers, many of whom are from the local chapter of the Izaak Walton League.  In 2010, he managed 22 stream cleanups that resulted in 210 volunteers collecting 6,087 pounds of trash.  He maintains a webpage on the IWL website that tracks all of the projects, number of volunteers, tons of trash collected, and pictures.  He also educates about environmental protection and  nonpoint source pollution.  The board agreed that highlighting someone who does such a tremendous amount of trash removal and education would be an inspiration.  Mrs. Hoffman said that he does not seek recognition and convincing  him to allow his name to be submitted for the award may be the most difficult part of the task.  A motion (Bordas-Gagnon) passed (3-0) to nominate Colin Riley for an Environmental Excellence award. 

Suburban Horse Farm Management Seminar and Meeting.  Mr. Woode said there was a good turnout for the April 5 Horse Management Seminar at the Great Falls Library.  It was the fourth in a series of seminars the District is co-sponsoring with the Great Falls Saddlery.  The topic was successful pasture management and how to locate, size and build a heavy-use (sacrifice) area.  Guest speakers included Dean Merrill, winner of the District’s 2010 Clean Water Farm Award, who talked about working with the District and participation in the cost-share program. Kate Norris, manager of the Prince William SWCD, discussed the PWSWCD model horse farm project with an emphasis on pasture management techniques.  Mr. Woode made a presentation about the purpose of establishing heavy-use areas and the standards and specifications to build them.  At another meeting, and at the invitation of Robin Rentsch, Mr. Woode and Mr. Schwartz made presentations to a group of citizens in Great Falls regarding nutrient and pasture management and about soil structure and management. 

Regional Science Fair.  Ms. Whitesell said the panel of judges for the Regional Science Fair included several Master Naturalists from the Fairfax Chapter, including Judi Booker, president, Suzanne Dorick, Krise Nowak, and Josefina Doumbia.  Jim McGlone, Devy Jagasia and Lily Whitesell also were judges. 

Pohick Creek Watershed PL-566.  Mr. Kohnke, NVSWCD liaison for the Pohick Creek PL-566 Watershed Project, narrated pictures of the current rehabilitation work at site #2 (Lake Barton), primarily installation of the secant wall.   Mrs. Hoffman said she conveyed to DPWES the reports that construction activity was beginning before 7:00 a.m. at Lake Barton.  She also attended two public meetings on the status of the rehabilitation of site #8 (Huntsman).  The Huntsman project is moving ahead on schedule.   

Engineering Standards Review Committee.  Mr. Kohnke, NVSWCD representative on the ESRC, said the ESRC did not meet in April. 

Green Breakfast.  Mrs.  Hoffman said with the help of a colleague at the Nuclear Energy Institute, she has secured a speaker for the May 14 Green Breakfast.  Marshall Cohen, Director of Government Relations for the Nuclear Energy Institute, will provide an update on the situation in Japan and discuss electricity from nuclear energy.  He also will cover the disposition of nuclear waste.   

Organics and Composting Workshops.  Ms. Bordas said that she and Mr. Schwartz are conducting workshops at the invitation of the George Mason University Sustainability Institute.  Ms. Bordas conducted a Basic Organic Vegetable Gardening workshop on April 23 and will conduct another on May 4.   Mr. Schwartz will conduct Compost for Healthy Soil and Gardening workshops on April 27 and 30.   

Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board.  Mrs. Packard said that it is important for the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board (VSWCB) to have members who are familiar with stormwater issues.  The VSWCB has oversight and enforcement of the state’s stormwater management and erosion and sediment control programs and regulations and the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits.  Legislation passed during the last General Assembly adds three new at-large members to the board with the requirement that they have knowledge and experience in stormwater.  The Governor will appoint these at-large members after July 1.  Joan DuBois has been encouraged to apply for one of the positions.  She served four years as the Dranesville District Supervisor and prior to that as staff to two county supervisors for sixteen years.  Having someone on the VSWCB who understands stormwater as well as the challenges localities experience when implementing erosion and sediment control and stormwater regulations would benefit not only localities, but DCR and the state as they develop the regulations and the VSWCB as it considers and approves them.  Mrs. DuBois said she is in the process of submitting her application to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.  A motion (Gagnon-Bordas) passed (3-0) to send a letter of support for Joan DuBois’ appointment to the VSWCB, after she submits her application.  Also, Mrs. Hoffman will provide background information to Area II Chair Jim Christian and ask if he would submit a request for an endorsement by the six Area II SWCDs at their Spring Meeting on May 6.

Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Mrs. Cross reported the following:

  • DCR has received the auditor’s report for the FY2009 and FY2010 audit of the District, which was conducted last all.  Mrs. Cross provided a copy for District files. 
  • Mrs. Cross distributed copies of the 2011 SWCD Directories.
  • A recent ruling from the Office of the Attorney General confirms earlier opinions that contributions made to Soil and Water Conservation Districts are deductible as charitable gifts under the Internal Revenue Code § 170(a), so long as the gift is made for purely public purposes.  A copy of the letter from the Attorney General’s office should be provided to those making gifts.
  • Districts should perform the usual end of year tasks. 
  • Anthony Moore, Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources, is making presentations to the Planning District Commissions, discussing Phase I and Phase II of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and soliciting the PDCs help with implementing Phase 2. 
  • DCR Director David Johnson has initiated organizational changes for DCR, which are intended to strengthen programs and provide greater focus and accountability.  Some positions will be eliminated and several key staff are retiring effective June 1, 2011.  The Division of Soil and Water Conservation has been renamed the Division of Stormwater Management and the former CBLAD has been merged into the newly reorganized division. 
  • The VASWCD Area II meeting will be held on May 6 in Charlottesville.
  • The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board meetings are scheduled for May 24, September 8 and December 7. 
  • 2012 VDACS Training will be June 6 in Charlottesville.
  • The SWCD Director election filing deadline has been changed to August 23, 2011.  Information and forms (Certificate of Candidate Qualification-Local Office, Declaration of Candidacy, and Petition of Qualified Voters) are at www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/Index.html   Of importance, the Petition of Qualified Voters must be on legal-sized paper, copied front and back, and have signatures of registered qualified voters (residency within the NVSWCD).

Tree Commission.  Mr. McGlone, Vice Chair of the Tree Commission, said the Arbor Day-Earth Day celebration was held April 16 at the Government Center.  He said the first class of Tree Stewards will graduate April 26. 

Virginia Department of Forestry.  Mr. McGlone made a presentation to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board about forest management, pointing out the importance of managing rather than just acquiring forests.  He announced the Lands for Tomorrow Conference June 27-30 at Longwood College.  The conference is sponsored by DOF and NRCS.  The Department of Forestry is seeking help to update its catalog of rain garden photos.

Mrs. Packard adjourned the meeting at 11:40 a.m.  

Respectfully submitted, Diane Hoffman's signature
Diane Hoffman

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