Audubon Society of Northern Virginia Grants Help Restore Local Habitat

 Geoff Livingston - The Sun Rises on a New Week - via Flickr

Geoff Livingston - The Sun Rises on a New Week - via Flickr

Funded in part by contributions from the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV), 35 volunteers assembled at the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve on May 9 and June 9 to plant some 2,000 native trees and plants on a 0.65-acre site previously overwhelmed by non-native or invasive plants such as English ivy, mile-a-minute and stiltgrass. The planting involved 60 native species in an initiative of the Friends of Dyke Marsh, in partnership with the National Park Service, Earth Sangha, and ASNV.

The Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, a National Park Service unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is a freshwater, tidal marsh on the Virginia side of the Potomac River in Fairfax County near Alexandria. One birder, during more than 40 years of recorded observations at Dyke Marsh, tallied 296 bird species there. For a list of the 225 more common species, including two species of bittern, nine hawk species, and more than 20 warbler species, click here

Invasive plants from other regions of the globe often, in their new habitat, lack the natural enemies and diseases that keep them in check in their areas of origin. Without these controls, the invaders can reproduce rapidly and crowd out native species. This loss of native plants can have harmful effects on birds and other wildlife that draw sustenance, shelter, and other support from native plants. Replacing invasives with natives helps to restore ailing habitats.

The grant originated with an ASNV proposal submitted last winter to the National Audubon Society’s Collaborative Grant program. Awarded $1,903, ASNV transferred the funds to Friends of Dyke Marsh for purchasing native plants for restoration along the Haul Road.  The Friends group also received grants from the National Environmental Education Foundation, Transurban, and Earth Sangha as well as donations from member to purchase plants. For more information, visit www.fodm.org and www.nps.gov/gwmp.