NVSWCD Board Meeting Minutes May 24, 2011



Fairfax County Community Development Center (Herrity Building), Room 941
12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035
May 24, 2011


(As approved by the Board of Directors on June 28, 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 (10:00)
  • George Lamb, Treasurer, NVSWCD
  • Adria Bordas, Director-Extension, NVSWCD
  • Bob Kohnke, Associate Director, NVSWCD
  • Jerry Peters, Associate Director, NVSWCD
  • Debbie Cross, Conservation District Coordinator, DCR
  • Larry Wilkinson, District Conservationist, USDA-NRCS
  • Diane Hoffman, Administrator, NVSWCD
  • Lily Whitesell, Outreach and Watershed Programs Coordinator, NVSWCD
  • Dan Schwartz, Soil Scientist, NVSWCD
  • Nick Kokales, Administrative and Technical Assistant, NVSWCD
  • Asad Rouhi, Urban Conservation Engineer, NVSWCD
  • Willie Woode, Senior Conservation Specialist, NVSWCD
  • Tom Cranmer, Visitor
  • Mahtaab Bagherzadeh, Regional Science Fair winner
  • Ann Vo, Regional Science Fair winner
  • Nicole Wright, Regional Science Fair winner

Regional Science Fair project – The Study of Nitrogen Deposition on Wisconsin Fast Plants.  Ms. Whitesell introduced Mahtaab Bagherzadeh, Ann Vo and Nicole Wright, Seniors at Jeb Stuart High School, who were the NVSWCD third place winners in the Regional Science Fair.  The students explained their project, which examined the effect of nitrogen deposition in various soils on the growth of Brassica rapa (Wisconsin Fast Plants).  The plants were grown with 0%, 1%, 2%, and 3% via nitric acid.  Growth, root and shoot mass were analyzed.  Growth in the control (0%) plants increased continuously over time; the 1% group increased with some fluctuation; the 2% group increased with more fluctuation toward the end; the 3% group initially increased, but regressed notably during the last week.  Root and shoot masses tended to correlate inversely with acid concentration.  The students concluded that the study demonstrated the harms of excess nitrogen, underlining how crucial it is to retain stable levels of nitrogen in an environment.  Mrs. Packard

congratulated the students on their project and presented each with a check for $50, a certificate and a copy of Aldo Leopold’s book, A Sand County Almanac

Approval of Minutes. Mrs. Hoffman said there were errors in the list of science fair judges.  Misspelled names were Suzanne Dorick and Krise NowakJosefina Doumbia should be added.  A motion (Gagnon-Peterson) passed (5-0) to approve the Minutes of the April 26, 2011 Board Meeting, as corrected. 

Treasurer’s Report.  Mr. Lamb reviewed the Treasurer’s Report.  A motion (Lamb-Peterson) passed (5-0) to accept and file for audit the Treasurer’s Report for April 2011. 

Approval of Support for Virginia Tech’s NFWF Grant Proposal.  Mrs. Packard said she gave preliminary approval to support Virginia Tech’s proposal for a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant to implement a two-year project at the Government Center, in partnership with Fairfax County DPWES.  The project, Developing an Adaptive Watershed Improvement Plan for Difficult Run in Fairfax, VA, would retrofit and monitor two ponds and a stream segment.  An analysis of the data would be used to create a model for a small watershed that can be used when developing nutrient reduction strategies.  The District would participate by serving on a technical advisory committee and assisting with the outreach and training component.  A motion (Lamb-Gagnon) passed (5-0) to support the NFWF grant proposal by Virginia Tech and to write a letter to accompany the proposal. 

Approval of Support for Lands and Waters’ Grant Proposal.   Mrs.Hoffman described a grant proposal by Lands and Waters, Inc. to develop vernal pool habitats at Lanier middle school and Daniels Run elementary school and to convert a turf grass area to a native garden at Lanier.  The proposal includes student participation and an extensive educational component.  The District would offer technical advice, as needed.  A motion (Bordas-Lamb) passed (5-0) to support the NFWF grant proposal by Lands and Waters and to draft a letter to accompany the proposal. 

Riparian Buffer Cost-Share Project.  Mrs. Hoffman described the Riparian Buffer Cost Share pilot project, which is an initiative proposed by Loudoun County.  The Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax Counties were invited to participate because of their experience implementing the Virginia Agricultural BMP Cost Share Program, after which the riparian cost-share program is modeled.  The planning committee is completing the technical specifications for the program.  The partnership plans to seek a grant to fund the two-year pilot project.  If successful, current plans call for NVSWCD to work with Fairfax County to implement 10 acres of riparian projects – 5 acres on private land and 5 acres on public land.  NVSWCD is checking with county partners and private landowners to learn whether or not it would be feasible to successfully carrying out the project.  The main concern is the availability of 10 acres of RPA.  It is assumed that once the buffer is established, the RPA provisions in the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance would help to ensure its continued existence.  This pilot project has the potential to provide useful information for a future broader-based urban BMP/community assistance cost-share program, which could include practices such as rain gardens and cisterns that would help to reduce non-point source pollution.  As with the agricultural BMP cost-share program, it would require standards and specifications, an application, a prioritization and implementation process, technical assistance, inspection, a maintenance agreement, and monitoring for the life of the practice. 

Legislative Items – 2012.  The board discussed potential legislative items to recommend to the SWCDs in Area II to adopt and forward to VASWCD for inclusion in its legislative agenda for the 2012 General Assembly session.  Items were chosen and prioritized from among those recommended by Area II and VASWCD for the 2011 session.  (Ms. Bordas left the meeting for another engagement.)  A motion (Gagnon-Peterson) passed (4-0) to adopt four items in a rank order – 1) increase essential district operations funding, 2) provide incremental increases each year for essential funding, 3) support the establishment of a Virginia urban BMP cost share and tax credit program, and 4) support adequate management of the BMP tracking program.  Item #4 will be modified to include a provision for a dedicated position and a dollar amount to support this position.  Mr. Peterson will check with VASWCD to learn if a dollar amount has been identified.   Mrs. Hoffman will email the recommended items to the SWCDs in Area II before the June 20 legislative conference call.

Green Breakfast.  Marshall Cohen, Director of Government Relations for the Nuclear Energy Institute, made an interesting presentation at the May 14 Green Breakfast.  He discussed the situation in Japan, the generation of electricity from nuclear energy, the status of the industry in the U.S. and the disposition of nuclear waste.  Mr. Lamb said 36 attended and a good discussion followed.  He said that Ivy Main has developed a presentation on Offshore Wind Energy and has suggested it as a future topic.  She is not available on July 9, but has suggested another speaker who could make the presentation.  The board agreed it would be a good choice.  Mrs. Hoffman will follow up.  Mrs. Gagnon suggested giving thought to a topic for the September Green Breakfast that would be of local interest for the November election.  Mr. Peterson said a presentation on the marcellus shale issue may be a good topic for a future Green Breakfast. 

Pohick Creek PL-566.  Mr. Kohnke, NVSWCD liaison for the Pohick Creek PL-566 Watershed Project, said he visited the Lake Barton site and it appeared that both stabilization walls were completed.  Mr. Wilkinson said he talked with the NRCS inspector, Jerry Wright, who said the project was going well and should be completed on time.  Mr. Kohnke said the rehabilitation of site #8 (Huntsman) is in the planning stage and on track.   Mr. Peterson said that the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has designated the Watershed Program as a National Historic Engineering Landmark.  This is the first time in 56 years that a program, instead of a project or an individual, has received such recognition.  A ceremony was held on May 17 in Oklahoma City on the grounds of the capitol.  Mr. Peterson was in Oklahoma City at this time, attending the National Watershed Coalition meeting, where he made a presentation about the PL-566 dam rehabilitation work at Royal Lake and Woodglen Lake.

Engineering Standards Review Committee.  Mr. Kohnke, NVSWCD representative on the ESRC, said the ESRC did not meet in May, but is scheduled to meet in June. 

Director of the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Commission.  Mr. Peterson said that he sent a personal letter recommending that Jack Frye be selected for the position of Director of the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Commission.  The Directors said that they would like to send a similar letter of support from the NVSWCD Board.  A motion (Lamb-Gagnon) passed (4-0) to approve a letter from NVSWCD recommending Jack Frye for Director of the Virginia Chesapeake Bay Commission.

Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee.  Mr. Peterson said that he has been appointed, as a Senate nominee to the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee, representing the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.  Mrs. Cross said that the advisory committee evaluates grant proposals for about $300,000 that is awarded annually. 

Artistic Rain Barrel Program – June 11 Reception and Auction.  Mrs. Gagnon said the rain barrel on display at the Franconia Government Center has been receiving very positive comments.  Another at the Howard Gardner School also is highly visible.  Mrs. Whitesell said the 25 rain barrels that have been painted by local artists are on display at various locations throughout northern Virginia.  They will be brought to Green Spring Gardens prior to the June 11 Artists Reception and Silent Auction from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  Anyone interested in attending the reception should RSVP to Taylor Beach in the NVSWCD office.   

Rain Garden and Stream Projects.  Mr. Lamb noted the number of rain garden and stream projects referenced in Mr. Rouhi’s monthly report.  Rain garden projects, either in the planning or implementation stage, are at the Packard Center, Marymount University, Noman Cole Wastewater Treatment Plant, Capital One and on a homeowner’s property.  The Park Authority has asked the District to evaluate the performance of a rain garden recently installed at a park.  Stream projects are being designed at Wakefield Park and on Little Pimmit Run.     

Sanitary Sewer/Streambank Stabilization Project on Little Pimmit Run.  Mrs. Hoffman said the proposal is moving forward to stabilize an exposed sanitary sewer line, using techniques similar to those the District used to protect lines further downstream in 2007.  Also, a drainage problem that is contributing to the problem will be corrected and stabilized.   The project will be done in partnership with DPWES Wastewater Collection Division and DPWES Maintenance and Stormwater Management.  VHB will assist with the design and Angler Environmental will install the project.  NVSWCD will coordinate and gain permission from the homeowners whose properties are affected.  An MOU between NVSWCD and DPWES will be drafted to facilitate the project.  A motion (Peterson-Lamb) passed (4-0) delegating authority to the Chair to make decisions, prior to the June 28 Board meeting, that are needed in order to move the project forward. 

Watershed Friendly Garden Tour – June 19.  Ms. Whitesell announced the biennial Watershed Friendly Garden Tour, hosted by NVSWCD and the Fairfax Master Naturalists, will take place on Sunday, June 19 from 1:00 to 5:00 at sites throughout the County.  Environmentally-friendly landscapes will include vegetated roofs, rain gardens, rain barrels, backyard wildlife habitat, composting, native plants and more.  Local residents will open their gardens and share their experiences landscaping with water resources in mind.  A description of each site, directions and a map are available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/gardentour.htm

Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Mr. Wilkinson said that rather than each SWCD and NRCS office holding a Local Working Group meeting, four counties will combine to hold a single meeting in Warrenton on June 8 at 3:00 p.m.   The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss several federal farm programs, such as EQIP and WHIP.  Mr. Wilkinson will represent NVSWCD at the meeting.

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

  • As the end of the fiscal year approaches, SWCDs should review the deliverables for the Operational Grant.
  • Mrs. Cross provided the web address for the 2011 SWCD Directories.
  • The Virginia Agricultural BMP Cost Share Program (VACS) end of the year tasks should be completed.  Training for the 2012 program is scheduled for June 6 at VDOF in Charlottesville. SWCDs need to develop Secondary Considerations for the 2012 program year and send them to Gary Moore for approval before July.  The VACS Technical Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled for August 23.
  • DCR Director David Johnson has announced organizational changes for DCR, which are intended to strengthen programs and provide greater focus and accountability.  As of June 1, the Division of Soil and Water Conservation will be renamed the Division of Stormwater Management and the former CBLAD has been merged into the newly reorganized division.  The organizational chart shows positions organized under the two main areas of responsibilities – regulatory and non-regulatory.  The regional offices fall in between these two areas.  The position of Division Director has been advertised.  Mr. Peterson noted that a consultant was hired to study the division and make recommendations for the reorganization; the VASWCD was not asked to participate in the study. 
  • Staff level follow up meetings on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL are being planned between DCR and regional planning district commissions.  SWCDs will be asked to become involved in the process.
  • The VASWCD Board of Directors meeting will be held July 14 and 15 in Loudoun County. 
  • At its Spring Meeting on May 6, the Area II SWCDs approved endorsing Joan DuBois for a position on the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board.
  • The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board meetings are scheduled for May 24, September 8 and December 7. 
  • The SWCD Director election filing deadline is 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  

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

Respectfully submitted, Diane Hoffman's signature
Diane Hoffman

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