Alexandria, VA

The Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation was announced as the recipient of a $10,000 grant from Dominion Energy to help local students learn about Four Mile Run — the creek that runs between Alexandria and Arlington.

The funding goes to the Nature Explorers and Restorer Project, which aims to help local elementary and middle school-age children in Arlandria and other surrounding communities, according to a press release.

“Exploring nature up close and improving things by hand, kids build a personal relationship to land, water, and community that makes them happier, healthier, and stronger in their environmental stewardship,” Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation President Kurt Moser said in the press release. “Dominion’s support allows us to provide quality programming where kids make scientific observations, protect natural lands, and discover the miraculous urban ecosystem here at Four Mile Run.”

Participants in the program learn about various aspects of the local ecosystem and use scientific equipment to make observations and keep a journal. The grant will help pay for equipment like binoculars and microscopes, as well as the mud boots and gloves necessary for work in the muddy waters along Four Mile Run.

The Four Mile Run Conservatory is a non-profit established in 2016 to promote natural restoration and advocacy following years of work to return to the wetlands to their natural state.

“Since its founding, the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation has engaged more than 450 volunteers in over 3,000 hours of service at lower Four Mile Run, planting more than sixty trees, removing four tons of litter, and documenting over 165 species of flora and fauna,” the group said in the press release.

In August, the group led a series of kayak cleanups where volunteers in kayaks collected 155 pounds of trash, primarily plastic bottles.

A Fall Hawk Walk is planned on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 10 a.m. Guests are invited to bring binoculars and field guides to watch for migrating hawks and other avian residents of the park.

Photo courtesy Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation

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A bridge spanning the last gap on the Alexandria side of the Four Mile Run Trail has been put into place, but the trail remains impassable for pedestrians.

“The bridge installation does complete the restoration project in this portion of the park,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities. “The installation is complete and its opening is pending final inspections. We anticipate it being open in two weeks.”

The trail starting at Mount Vernon Avenue currently dead-ends at an unnamed tributary with no connection to the other half of the trail, which runs to Route 1 and connects with Arlington and the Mount Vernon Trail.

The bridge was installed on Sept. 11, but orange construction barriers prevent access to the bridge on both sides of the trail.

The bridge is the final piece of a restoration project for Four Mile Run that started in 2006. The wetlands park officially opened in 2016 but work has continued since then on naturalizing the stream bank.

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Alexandria wants you to plant a tree.

Specifically, the city needs some help to get 40 percent of the city covered with trees by 2035, a goal expressed in the city’s Environmental Action Plan.

A native tree sale is underway through Wednesday, Oct. 30, to encourage residents to plant trees native to Alexandria in their yard. Trees for sale include:

  • Flowering Dogwood: $40
  • Black Oak: $35
  • Pitch Pine: $40
  • Tulip Poplar: $20
  • Chestnut Oak: $35
  • White Oak: $40
  • Black Gum: $40

For those without yards in which to plant, residents can also purchase a tree and have it planted at no cost on city property near their residence or at a local business, provided the site is approved by the city arborist.

Trees can either be purchased online or at the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center (5750 Sanger Avenue).

The city is already close to its tree canopy goals, achieving 36 percent in 2016, according to the Environmental Action Plan.

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