NVSWCD Board Meeting Minutes May 22, 2012



Fairfax County Community Development Center (Herrity Building), Room 941
12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035
May 22, 2012


(As approved by the Board of Directors on June 26, 2012)

Mr. Peterson called the meeting to order at 9:40 a.m.   Those present were:

  •    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, DCR (10:15 a.m.)
  •    Jim McGlone, Urban Forest Conservationist, Virginia Department of Forestry
  •    Larry Wilkinson, District Conservationist, USDA-NRCS
  •    Willie Woode, Senior Conservation Specialist, NVSWCD
  •    Diane Hoffman, District Administrator, NVSWCD
  •    Asad  Rouhi, Urban Conservation Engineer, NVSWCD
  •    Lily Whitesell, Watershed Specialist, NVSWCD
  •    Sarah Peglow, Intern, NVSWCD
  •    Jessi Ende, Intern, NVSWCD
  •    Ryan McLain, Science Fair winner
  •    Mr. McLain, parent
  •    Emma Dodd, Science Fair winner
  •    Mrs. Dodd, parent

Regional Science Fair Project – Health of Renovated and Unrenovated Streams Ryan McLain, a freshman at South Lakes High School, received the NVSWCD third place award at the Regional Science Fair.  He explained his project to determine whether the renovation of Reston streams improved the health of the water or just made them aesthetically more pleasing.  He used pH levels to compare water samples in Snake Den Branch and Difficult Run.  He found a large standard deviation in data from the renovated Snake Den Branch, which led to large error bars in the averages, making it difficult to draw a conclusion from the data set.  He said in the future, he would draw more samples over time and over a large area of several streams.  Mr. Peterson congratulated Mr. McLain on his project and presented him with a certificate, a check for $50 and a copy of Aldo Leopold’s book, A Sand County Almanac

Regional Science Fair Project – The Effect of Oyster Mushrooms on Oil in Soil.  Emma Dodd, a sophomore at Herndon High School, received the NVSWCD second place award at the Regional
Science Fair.  She explained her project to determine the efficacy of using mycelium to break down oil contaminants in soil.  Three of four large samples of organic soil were contaminated with diesel fuel and monitored for seven weeks.  Two of the contaminated samples were inoculated with mycelium of oyster mushrooms while the other contaminated sample and the uncontaminated unit served as controls.  While mushroom growth was observed, there was no significant change in the petroleum levels of any of the units.  Sprouts of naturally occurring seeds in the soil grew well in the uncontaminated soils and died in the contaminated soils.  Ms. Dodd had based her study on a similar, larger study, which indicated a positive correlation in its summary; however when Ms. Dodd conducted further research of the source data for the study, she found the results were similar to what she had observed in her study.  She concluded that mushroom mycelium had no effect on petroleum contaminants in soil and would not be an effective remediation.  Mr. Peterson congratulated Ms. Dodd on her project and presented her with a check for $75, a certificate and a copy of Aldo Leopold’s book, A Sand County Almanac

Approval of Minutes.  Mr. McGlone asked that the April minutes, on page 4, be corrected to state that 43,000 acres burned during the recent fire season (6,500 on private land and 36,500 on forest service land).  A motion (Gagnon-Lamb) passed (4-0) to approve the Minutes of the April 24, 2012 Board Meeting, as corrected.  

Treasurer=s Report.  Mr. Lamb reviewed the monthly Treasurer’s Report. A motion (Lamb-Gagnon) passed (4-0) to accept and file for audit the Treasurer=s Report for April 2012.  Mrs. Hoffman said the final accounting for the seedling program has been completed.  The net profit from the program is $5,415, which is approximately $500 more than reported previously. 

Grant Proposal – Patton Terrace Project.  Ms. Whitesell reported that Mrs. Packard gave preliminary approval to submit a grant proposal to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  The grant request is for a $150,000 small watershed grant to implement LID practices, such as infiltration measures and rain gardens, on residential private properties in the Franklin Park-Patton Terrace neighborhood.  This project is in conjunction with an innovative project by the County.  DPWES-SWPD, with VDOT’s agreement, plans to install infiltration measures along road right-of-ways, along with measures that will continue to provide parking areas.  The County also proposes to convert selected road sections to pervious material.  These County and NVSWCD initiatives will work together to help solve stormwater management problems in this older neighborhood that also is experiencing redevelopment on some properties.  A motion (Lamb-Bordas) passed (4-0) to approve submission of the grant proposal to NFWF.

Soil and Water Conservation Plan – Donmore Drive.  Following up on last month’s report on a potential zoning violation if Mrs. Campbell proceeded with establishing a pasture on her Donmore Drive property, Mr. Woode provided additional background and an update.  In accordance with the Fairfax County Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (Chapter 118), Mr. Woode evaluated the land with regard to soils, slope, RPA and other factors and prepared a soil and water quality conservation plan for establishing a horse operation on her five-acre wooded property.  The plan included silt fencing, super silt fencing, a buffer, selected tree-save, and preservation of vegetation in a natural drainage area.  A neighbor learned of the potential pasture establishment and alerted both Mrs. Campbell and the District to a potential zoning violation, as well of a violation of an HOA covenant.  Mr. Woode advised Mrs. Campbell to delay implementation of the conservation plan until the zoning issue was resolved; however, she did not wait.  She wanted to start the pasture establishment before the weather got hot; hence, she proceeded with the clearing, grading and seeding.  The County Zoning Administrator, after consulting with the County Attorney, determined that the Zoning Ordinance would not allow the establishment of a pasture at this time.  While pasturing horses is an agricultural activity and the Residential-Estate zoning on the property allows agriculture as one of the permitted uses, in this case it would not be allowed.  Since Mrs. Campbell did not plan to sell anything in connection with her horse operation, in order for her to establish the agricultural activity (pasture), it would need to be an “accessory” use on the property, such as an accessory to a house, with the house being the primary use.  There was not a house on the property.  Hence, the soil and water quality conservation plan became moot, since it was trumped by the zoning violation.  Mrs. Campbell then became subject to the Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance (Chapter 104) under which she was issued the notice of violation for land disturbance.  This was the first time a conservation plan was prepared for a new horse operation where there was not a house on the property; it became a learning experience for both the District and the County’s Department of Planning and Zoning.  The Zoning staff contacted the HOA to explain that the District was not at fault in this matter.  Mr. Peterson offered to meet with the HOA if that would be helpful.  He also suggested that it would be very useful for the board to have an in-depth discussion about conservation planning during a board work session sometime in the future.

Soil and Water Quality Conservation Plans.  Mr. Woode presented two soil and water quality conservation plans for approval.  Both are for horse operations in the Springfield District and neither have RPAs.  One is a revised plan for Full Cry Horse Farm, now owned and managed by the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program.  Currently there are 11 horses with plans for a maximum of 25 horses on 17 acres.  The plan will meet one of the requirements for a Special Exception permit to expand and operate the therapeutic riding program.  The second plan is for a proposed two to three horse operation on a 5-acre parcel.  A motion (Gagnon-Lamb) passed (3-0) to approve soil and water quality conservation plans for the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program in Clifton (17 acres on 3 parcels) and for Judy and Paul Ruud in Fairfax Station (5 acres on 1 parcel). 

Pesticide Recertification.  Ms. Bordas announced that Virginia Cooperative Extension is sponsoring a Procrastinator’s Commercial Pesticide Applicators Recertification Training on June 19 in the Old Courthouse in Manassas.  Registration is at 7:30 a.m.

Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) Legislative Agenda for 2013.    The board reviewed the Area II and VASWCD legislative agendas that were approved for the 2012 session of the General Assembly.  They agreed to continue to support an urban BMP cost-share and tax credit program.  Mrs. Gagnon recommended that this item be moved to priority #3 on the Area II legislative agenda.  Mr. Peterson said that other items, such as essential funding for Districts and support for dam maintenance, likely would continue to be supported by VASWCD.  He also commented that he would like to see the voluntary urban BMP issue considered by DCR.  Mr. Peterson asked that anyone who may wish to add any other items for consideration by Area II to please send them to him and to Mrs. Gagnon, both of whom plan to participate in the Area II teleconference call on June 1.  Mrs. Hoffman said that if needed, she could arrange a conference call among directors prior to the Area II conference call.

Engineering Standards Review Committee.  Mr. Kohnke said the ESRC did not meet in May, because the material scheduled for consideration was still under review by county agencies.  The next meeting will be June 7, when the ESRC will review the Proposed Public Facilities Manual Amendments for the As-Built Plan Process.   

Green Breakfast.   Mr. Lamb reported that Laura Grape, NVRC, discussed Conservation Corridor Planning in northern Virginia at the May 12 Green Breakfast.  Susan Hafeli will discuss the County’s energy outreach program at the July 14 Green Breakfast Mr. Lamb and Mr. Glasgow are seeking a speaker on residential green buildings for a future breakfast. 

Tree Commission.  Mr. McGlone said thatGina Li, the NVSWCD first place winner at the Regional Science Fair,presented her science fair project at the MayTree Commission meeting.   

Environmental Quality Advisory Council (EQAC).  Mrs. Gagnon said the next EQAC – ECC (Environmental Coordinating Committee) meeting will take place on July 11 at 5:00 p.m.

Flooding Problem.  Mrs. Gagnon said she was invited by Supervisor McKay to attend a community meeting in the Lee District where flooding has been occurring in Hayfield Farms.  The County has purchased one house and is in the process of buying another that was built in the 1950’s and has been experiencing flooding during the past five years.  Considerable infill and development have been occurring in the area above this neighborhood.  The County suggested natural plantings on the two lots, to increase stormwater infiltration.  Mrs. Gagnon said that many in the neighborhood expressed a preference for a large home and/or mowed grass.  Mrs. Hoffman wondered if the conservation landscaping concept might be successful and more readily accepted.  The bigger picture is that these problems are occurring elsewhere in the county as well, which presents the County with significant challenges in stormwater management. 

TMDL Workshop in Fredericksburg.  Mr. Peterson said he took part in the TMDL Workshop on May 17, which was sponsored by the Tri-County SWCD and the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of IECA.  He said it was very informative, including excellent presentations by Kate Bennett, Fairfax DPWES-SWPD, and Melissa Allen, NRCS.  Jack Frye provided a very good wrap up at the end.

VASWCD Scholarship Winner.  Ms. Whitesell reported that Darwin Li (Gina Li’s older brother) won a VASWCD scholarship.  His application was among those received by NVSWCD this year.  It was selected as the NVSWCD nominee for the state-wide scholarship.

Watershed Friendly Home and Garden Tour.  Ms. Whitesell announced the Watershed Friendly Home and Garden Tour will take place on Sunday, June 19 at nine sites.  Features on the tour include rain gardens, porous driveways, natural landscaping, a pollinator meadow, a bog garden, rain barrels, conservation easements, a dry creek bed, a garden with more than 100 native plants, and a school yard filled with conservation measures.

NVSWCD Interns.  Ms. Whitesell introduced two NVSWCD Interns.  Sarah Peglow is studying biology at Marymount and has been monitoring the rain garden, which the District, Arlington County and Marymount installed next to the library.  She also helped with the NVSWCD Composter Workshop on May 19.  Jessi Ende is a geology student at Rochester and former storm drain marking project leader.  Both will be writing articles for Conservation Currents and helping out in the office.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Mr. Wilkinson said the Local Working Group, will meet in Warrenton in late June to provide comments to NRCS regarding current federal programs.  There are two things that may be of interest to NVSWCD: soil quality on organic farms and high hoop houses.  Mr. Wilkinson will attend the meeting and relay any comments by NVSWCD.  On June 21, NRCS is hosting a meeting in Verona to discuss the “Field Office of the Future.” 

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

  • Funding for SWCDs will now appear in the state budget on two lines – Financial Assistance to SWCDs and Technical Assistance to SWCDs. 
  • The General Assembly directed the Secretary of Natural Resources to convene a stakeholder group that will include state agencies, SWCDs, VASWCD, private interests and others to examine funding needs for administration and operations of soil and water conservation districts and the technical assistance they provide to implement agricultural best management practices.  The review will include a study of historical and potential funding distribution methods.  Recommendations must be made to the Governor and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee by October 4.  Also, the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board will not be allowed to make any changes in SWCD boundaries until actions are taken on the recommendations. 
  • The Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board will meet June 28.  It will receive a report from the committee it formed to study and gain a better understanding of district funding and how the Financial Assistance for SWCDs Policy and state budget interface.  It also will finalize the deliverables in the operational grant and update its Financial Assistance Policy for 2013.
  • Reese Peck, Director of DCR’s Division of Stormwater Management, has said he would like to receive copies of SWCD annual budgets and more detailed information that will be requested in a survey, which will be sent shortly after the close of the fiscal year. 
  • DCR is scheduling a series of half day Stormwater Rollout Workshops across Virginia for localities, PDCs and SWCDs to explain the requirements of the revised VA Stormwater Management Program regulations, to preview tools and to clarify timelines. 
  • DCR is hosting a series of workshops in May during the public comment period on the Virginia WIP for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. 
  • Changes in the Cost-Share Program include elimination ‘base’ and ‘priority’ categories for funds; they are now one. Cost Share training will be July 15 in Charlottesville.
  • VASWCD Area II Districts will hold a conference call on June 1 at 8:30 a.m. to discuss items for a legislative agenda for the 2013 General Assembly session.
  • VASWCD Board of Directors will meet July 18 and 19.  Director training is scheduled on July 18. 

Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF).  Mr. McGlone reported on the DOF reorganization.  In the past, foresters were assigned to single counties.  Now, they will be assigned to teams responsible for ‘work areas.’  Mr. McGlone is on the Area II team with four other staff.  They will work in Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William, Loudoun and Fauquier Counties.

Mr. Peterson adjourned the meeting at 12:00 noon.  

Respectfully submitted,

Diane Hoffman signature

Diane Hoffman

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