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Work Session Summaries 2023

Page history last edited by Mary.Ellsworth 6 months, 1 week ago



west end

Section4  Section3  Section2  Section1 
                 east end

Bioswale Work Session

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Six of us spent this beautiful morning by the river tackling invasive vine species in the bioswale.   Overall the edge of the river looks

good in this our final session for the 2023.  Of concern is the number of False Indigo bushes showing up in Sections 2 and 3. 

These are going to be monsters in 2024, but the volunteer work sessions are not enough to deal with them.  

Tasks accomplished today

 Cleared porcelainberry, clematis, other vines from bushes and from grassy spaces

 Removed several large saplings from the seawall next to the Paddlers' dock.  

 Cut back a bush honey suckle discovered in a pine along the fence.  A couple years old! How did that escape our notice. 



 Jim removed unwanted trees from the seawall area.  Amy pulled vines endlessly!  She cleared a bald cypress and much more.   Morgan, an employee from Fragers, cut the English Ivy on the big Cottonwood. 

 Thankful for JoAnn, a real gardener!  She gets it - roots & all. 

Jim & I discovered a bush honeysuckle wrapped in the branches of a pine along the fence.  It's large - must have been hiding there a couple years.  We filled the wheelbarrow twice with the branches. 


 Paul pitches in - as always. 

The bioswale sign is looking old and


Tasks for 2024:

 Remove Bush Honeysuckle sect 1

 How to manage the False Indigobush, sect 2&3

 Clear the stone walls

It's time to replace the bioswale sign.

Dig the phragmites, section 1


Bioswale Work Session

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Seven of us spent the morning mostly removing vines.  We hauled a few piles of previously cut brush to the dumpster, and trimmed some more branches to clear the view to the CSO alert lights.  

Julia cleared the short fence by the ramp and then tackled the vines on a Serviceberry shrub 

Tasks accomplished today

 Trimmed river birch branches to improve viewing of the CSO discharge warning lights

 Cleared Porcelainberry from the short fence by the flood gauge.

 Cleared vines from several bushes.

Carried branches from previous workday to the dumpster


Annette cleared vines and lespedeza covering three Vibernums and two Red Twig Dog Woods 

Paul came in at the end (after a long paddle) to provide a boost of much needed energy! 

JoAnn removes Porcelainberry right down to it's roots.We have a professional on the team! 

Grant is such a welcomed sight on bioswale Sundays!  

As usual in October, the Tick Trefoil is bad -

Julia and Annette are literally covered with the tiny triangular seeds from this plant.  The seeds

can only be removed one by one by hand. 

A few members of Team Bioswale 

Annette, Paul, Grant, Julia, and Andy


Tasks for November:

   Clear around shrubs in sections

1, 4 & 5

 Remove Bush Honeysuckle sect 1

 Deadhead remaining Loosestrife

 Tackle brambles on stone wall, sect 2 & 3

Dig out the heavy grasses, front of the bioswale sign.

Bald Cypress and Switchgrass

Fall color - Bald Cypress

Bushes cleared of vines

Red Twig Dogwood (left) and Vibernum (right)

Wheelbarrow abuse?  Not sure - sometime towards the

end of summer the Wb was found with deep gashes in

one of the tires, and both are entirely flat.  The Wb is

essential for the volunteer work in the bioswale.  

False Indigobush is taking over in sections 2 and 3 (between the ramps).   

We can try to cut it back, but there may not be enough volunteer

energy to keep digging it out. 


Bioswale Work Session

Sunday, October 1, 2023 (postponed from Sept 24)

There were just five of us working today, but we accomplished a good deal.  The focus was on the west end, since the scrimmage was happening with lots of people on the plaza.  

 Alice gets everything out, even the roots!  Mclean wheeled many loads to the dumpster  Julia cut down a small tree today! 

Tasks accomplished today

 Cleared tree branches to improve viewing of the CSO discharge warning lights

 Cleared area west of Paddler's dock for mowing

 Cut back false indigobush east of Paddler's dock

 Cleared vines from a few bushes.

Carried branches from previous workday to dumpster


Removing the last of the debris from a volunteer tree

that was blocking the view of the cso discharge lights

Bearded Beggarticks - a lovely native, new to the bioswale.

Results:  enlarged clear area by the Paddler's dock

Results:  Tree branches removed to improve viewing of the 

CSO discharge warning lights, from both the parking lot and the river. 

For Oct:  We need to clear the vines off the

fence here

For Oct: This Shadbush is covered with

clematis that needs to be pulled off

Tasks for October work session  

  Clear around shrubs in sections 1, 4 & 5

 Remove Bush Honeysuckle sect 1

 Deadhead remaining Loosestrife

 Tackle brambles on stone wall, sect 2 & 3

 Dig the big False Indigobush next to Paddlers' dock.

Clear the fence next to water level gauge

Dig out the heavy grasses in front of the bioswale sign.

Cut back the River Birch to improve CSO view.


Bioswale Work Session

Sunday, Aug 27, 2023

We had a terrific group of thirteen volunteers on this August day. Initially they all went to work in Section 1 removing the purple loosestrife and trimming the clematis vines and false indigo bush.  As more people arrived, some picked up trash (5 bags full!) and removed vines in section 5.   So much was accomplished today!

Before:  Clematis, Loosestrife,  False Indigobush in section 1

 After:  Most of the invasive species have been removed, leaving mostly natives.

 Sweet Autumn Clematis is an aggressive invasive species

Tasks accomplished today

 Dug out phragmites, section 1 - hopefully done for 2023

 Cleared tons of vines, particularly from bald cypress

 Dead headed and cut back false indigobush

 Dug invasive loosestrife, sect 1


 Native Pickerel weed in Section 1  River birches looking lovely, and no trash, section 5.  Clematis vines were removed from the birches today.  
 Many wheel barrow loads of vines, etc went to the dumpster


Stomping down the dumpster!

 Polk weed goes in. Native, but aggressive and in the wrong place.


September: work on removing this False Indigobush, next to Paddler's dock

Tasks for July work session  

 Clear around shrubs in sections 1, 4 & 5

 Continue to tackle Bush Honeysuckle sect 1

 Deadhead remaining Loosestrife

 Tackle brambles on stone wall, sect 2 & 3

 Dig the big False Indigobush in Sec 4, next to Paddlers' dock.

 Continue clearing the rocks - esp saplings


 September:  Remove Catalpa sapling, section 1


Bioswale Work Session

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Nine volunteers tackled the highly invasive Bush Honeysuckle and others in Section 1.  Again this month, it was heavy work since the honeysuckle has grown to the size of small trees. The crew diligently went after the roots.  First we worked on clearing the vines off the emergency entrance fence for about 20 min before going to work on Section 1. 

BEFORE: Heavy vines on the emergency

fence were preventing it from being opened.

AFTER: vines cleared

WARNING: there's a nest of yellow jackets in

the upper part of this post, O.


BEFORE:  Two River Birches 

on the edge of the water, section 1, were

covered in vines.  Amy started on this one

but stopped when Poison Ivy was found.


Amy and Candace cut and pulled 

ivy and Virginia Creeper off the

second birch.


AFTER:  Vines are gone and the tree

is nicely open O.  

 Aaron and Paul remove a stubborn Black

Locust that was too close to the River Birch.

So satisfying to muscle that root

out of the ground!   


Pretty Picture: Healthy, beautiful switch grass

and Bald Cypress, Section 4.

Removing Bush Honeysuckle stumps is a challenge:

Andy and Aaron pried and dug until this piece

relented (the rest of the root clump is circled, right)

The rest of that massive Bush Honeysuckle

stump finally demolished.

Wheel barrows of

vegetation going to the



This River Birch is now clear

on one side.  The other side is

the place to start in August.


My Strava trace: Almost a mile and a half

walked during one bioswale work session


The Gonzaga Plus: The bioswale shed has become

the place to gather when the work is done,

to have a pastry and talk about rivers.



Bioswale Work Session

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Nine volunteers worked diligently on this hot, humid sunny morning.  We worked in section 1, which has not had much attention this past year with all the heavy work in the other sections.  The goal was to remove bush honeysuckle and phragmites, two very invasive species that can dominate in any environment, not only along a river.  We made a start at clearing the area, but it was truly a dense jungle.  I commend the volunteers for tackling this difficult area.  When in good shape, the east end of the bioswale can be our prettiest part of the bioswale. 

A dense jungle. Far as we know we didn't lose

anybody. Ruth & Paul bear the heat & humidity. 

JoAnne in the middle, laboriously digging up 

phragmites rhizomes. Grant & Chantel, with

clippers bared, battle onward.    

Tasks accomplished today

 Dug out bush honeysuckle, phragmites, section 1

 Cleared tons of vines, particularly from bald cypress

 Dead headed and cut back false indigobush

 Cleared off the magnolia, sect 1.

Dug invasive loosestrife, sect 1

 Cleared growth along edge of the tent, and at faucets

Carolie made so many wheelbarrow trips!

Tasks for July work session 

 Clear around shrubs in sections 1, 4 & 5

 Continue to tackle Bush Honeysuckle sect 1

 Continue to dig Phragmites, section 1

 Tackle brambles on stone wall, sect 2 & 3

 Dig the big False Indigobush in Sec 4, next to Paddlers' dock.

Larisa eventually conquered this bush honeysuckle

 This is a ~3 min recording of the birds in the area.  One of the reasons we do this. 

 Andy frees the Sweetbay Magnolia  Grant displays a trophy bush honeysuckle stump, roots and all!

As once an enemy's heads were displayed on a spike, the conquered bush honeysuckle stumps can be seen; we were victorious.



Bioswale Work Session - Featuring Capital Juniors

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Four ACBA volunteers and more than a dozen Capital Juniors and parents tackled a two huge projects on this sunny morning.  The first was removing the False Indigobush (FIB) from the upriver side of the first ramp (section 1).  The second, clearing the area next to the Paddlers' dock to improve use of that area for eventual socializing.  Area needs to be flattened with shovels and rakes, grass seeded, and to start mowing there. 

Capital Juniors Day of Service ...

Capital Juniors, moms and dads! 


BEFORE:  The area was covered in vines, and stumps where a couple trees had died.  We lost 2 Shadbush here.  

 The work gets started.  We 'roped' off the area around the big Shadbush and switch grasses. 



This crew knows how to go for the roots!


Tasks accomplished today

 Dug out yellow iris, section 5.

 Cleared vines, dead stumps, all vegetation, section 5,

next to Paddlers' dock

Removed tree growing on the seawall, but stump remains

  Dug up False Indigo bush,

section 1 next to the ramp, a massive clump in particular

Cleared some of the rocks, section 1.



Some serious wheelbarrowing took place!



They tackled that Elm tree without me even mentioning it.  Wow.

 More serious wheelbarrowing ...  It's a nice little Elm, but in a terrible place for a tree.  




Removing invasive clematis vines and yellow iris


Eradicating Bush Honeysuckle down

to the roots!


Tippy appeared, of course!


AFTER!  Usually we don't do a clean sweep

of all vegetation, but that's what was called for in this area.  

The wheelbarrowing got a little goofy

Tasks for June work session 

 Clear around shrubs in sections 1, 4 & 5

 Seriously tackle Bush Honeysuckle with tree puller, section 1

 Dig Phragmites, section 1

 Tackle brambles on stone wall, sections 2 & 3

 Dig the big False Indigobush in Sec 4, next to Paddlers' dock.

Intrepid ACBA volunteers...

 The zone by the ramp, section 1, had False Indigobush that got away from us.   Today was the day to get out the FIB.    A MASSIVE stump of FIB - took 3 of us to get it into the wheelbarrow!  

 Fruits of our Labor....

 Native Yellow Tickseed (Coreopsis) looking beautiful, and a stalk of Larkspur.  

 The Shad bush loaded with berries - excellent bird and wild animal food  Pretty Bachelor buttons


Bioswale Work Session - featuring Academy of Holy Cross Day of Service

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Thirty one AMAZING young women from Holy Cross & their 4 chaperones spent the day on tasks along the edge of the river.  They arrived at 9:30am and didn't leave until 1:40pm

After 3 groups so far this spring plus Earth Day the bioswale is in the best shape I've ever seen it!  

 A splendid day - the group walks to the Bioshed for an orientation to the day's tasks.    Saturday's Earth Day volunteers had left several piles of brush that didn't fit in the dumpster, so we finished off that job first.   Meanwhile this ambitious crew took down a 10 ft honeysuckle bush AND dug out the massive root as well.  

Planting lavender around the base of the

Bio-shed. It is hoped the lavender will deter

the groundhog from digging here.  

The ground was hard dry clay, so students

used a pick to break it up, then added sand

and soil conditioner before planting six

lavender plants, 

Tasks accomplished today

 Carried brush piles left from Earth Day to the dumpster,

along w scrap wood that was nearby

 Dug out yellow iris near the large pine. 

 Planted lavender plants around the shed to discourage the ground hog. 

 Dug wineberry upriver side of the Paddlers' dock

 Cleared vines from Magnolia, section 1

 Cleared massive vines off the fence behind the large tent

Cleared a 16' strip & put in Virginia Mallow seeds.

Cleared vines from the wall beside the large tent. 

Removed vines from bushes, section 5

Cleared some of the rocks, section 1.




Seniors were asked to tackle the wineberry in the west end of section 4.  These two won the prize for longest intact root!    The honeysuckle bush was felled, yes, but they spent another 10 min sucking honey from the flowers.    These two made room in the dumpster for more brush!  
A 16' strip was cleared between the two fences in back of the large tent. This is in preparation for putting in VA Mallow seeds.
 Raking and improving the soil.  VA Mallow is a rare plant that's nearly extinct in DC & MD.  Water is lightly sprinkled on the new seeds. 

 The VA Mallow is in the ground.  Amelia, in lavender, rows with Capital Jrs 5 times/wk.  The others asked her to bring them frequent reports on how the plot is doing. 

Lunch break

Tasks for May work session 


Clear around shrubs in sections 1, 4 & 5

 Search & destroy Lesser Celandine if it

can be identified

 Seriously tackle Bush Honeysuckle with tree puller, section 1

 Dig Phragmites, section 1

 Continue to remove wineberry sprouts

 Dig the False Indigobush in Sec 1, 2, 3 and 5


In the last 1.5 hour of work students put in a

major & amazing effort.  The length of this fence was

piled at least 2 ft high with vines.  Now - Gone. 


Hard to see a poor neglected Magnolia shrub

center of the image.  The shrub was covered 

and bent over with a load of vines.  Gone.  

Here the vine, etc were coming up 

over the edge of the wall along side

the big tent.   Now .. Gone!   


EARTH DAY 2023 & Bioswale Work Session featuring Wakefield HS crew

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Perfect weather for Earth Day!  A total of 75 volunteers participated.  47 were volunteers from AWS who picked up trash along the river, along M St, and

along the trails, led by 7 volunteers from ACBA.  8 ACBA volunteers worked in the bioswale, and 12 students from Wakefield HS joined them.


Black bags are full of trash.  Clear bags are full of recyclable materials.


Enith and Alice at the registration table

Tasks accomplished today

 Picked up trash on grounds & roads

        21 bags of trash; 12 bags of recyclables

        2 tires, 44 plastic groc bags, ~200 lbs 

        of other 

 Cleared vines under the big pine

 Removed Lesser Celandine, Section 4

 Picked up pine cones under big pine.

 Limbed up river birches, west end

 Cleared tree fencing, west end 

A concurrent bioswale work session happened



Over 50% of trash picked up were plastic



 AWS is collecting info for new DC Bottle bill


Construction materials and tire

near Congressional Cemetery

 River birch, freshly limbed up and cleared


A great viewing area for the next Regatta.

 The clean up uncovered several 

Milkweed plants 



Tasks for May work session 


Clear around shrubs in sections 1, 4 & 5

 Search & destroy Lesser Celandine if it can be identified

 Seriously tackle Bush Honeysuckle with tree puller

 Dig Phragmites, section 1

 Continue to remove wineberry sprouts

 Dig the False Indigobush in Sec 1, 2, 3 and 5



Bioswale Work Session - Cypress Creek Renewables - Earth Day Celebration

Friday, April 21, 2023


Kick off 2023 Bioswale Work Session featuring Gonzaga HS crew

Sunday, March 26, 2023

A gorgeous day and a dozen amazing volunteers made for a fabulous work session!  We built the new tool shed, cleaned up the bike parking, and did a carving out of targeted invasive and aggressive species in the bioswale.

Tasks accomplished today

 Targeted removal of wineberry & sweet autumn clematis

 Removed Lesser Celandine in Section 4

 Put the new tool shed together

 Cleared weeds from the bike parking area

 Wanted to dig Phragmites, section 1, but tide is too high

Check that pine cones are picked up. Ask Cornelius

       to mow under the pine.


The cleaned up view from the west end. 

With this work we improve the area for both native species & for people.



Installing the new tool shed.


Step 1:  Laying out the dimensions with string and paint. 


Step 2. Gonzaga crew dug a

shallow pit following the dimensions.


Nice job Gonzaga!  It's just right.


Step 3. Building a frame in the pit and

tamping in a layer of sand. 

 Step 4.  Laying pavers




Step 4 (today).  Assembling the shed.


Refreshing Bike Parking.  Volunteers moved all of the bike racks out, dug out all the weeds, and laid down new mulch. What an effort!

 If you park your bike here feel free to always pull up

weeds!  Its an all-volunteer affair.  

One of the bad boys we were aiming for today - wineberry. Considered an invasive plant in Maryland, wineberry forms a clump of arching canes that may reach nine feet in length. The dense brambles make it very difficult to move around in the bioswale.  Lesser Celandine, may well become our worst nemesis. We first saw one small clump in the bioswale last spring. There are hundreds of clumps this year, and it will surely grow to eliminate all diversity if we fail to eradicate it. The other target for today was Autumn Clematis. This rude and stubborn vine will totally suffocate bushes and whole trees, given half a chance. It produces lovely but unwelcome bowers of tiny white blossoms in the fall.

Bioswale beauty ..... 

 Blue Flag iris emerging



Bob and Diana Day's daffodils - a fond memory


Tasks for April work session 


Clear around shrubs in sections 1, 4 & 5

 Search & destroy Lesser Celandine if it can          be identified

 Seriously tackle Bush Honeysuckle

 Dig Phragmites, section 1

 Continue to remove wineberry sprouts

 Dig the False Indigobush in Sec 1, 2 and 3







2023 Bioswale Work Session - Gonzaga Day of Service

Saturday, March 18, 2023

More than 50 Gonzaga rowers plus their parents came out to help in the bioswale and on the boathouse grounds for their annual Day of Service.  What a great day!  The leadership the coaches provide these young men is beyond value.  These are the stewards of our future.  

The following tasks were accomplished:

 Removed many wineberry sprouts from sections 2, 3 & 4

 Trash picked up along the edge of the river

 Cleared brush & bush under big pine, west end. 

 Picked up & bag pine cones

 Helped make a level base for the new tool shed

 Removed vines on the fence and clear behind the big tent

 Broke up old shells and got them into the big dumpster

 Raked in sections 2,3 & 4


 Digging up Wineberry roots & all!  You need to dig deep to find all these roots.  


A major effort to clear vines and brush from behind the big tent.  Great job FRESHMEN!!

Just had to include this... The bioswale leader decided to measure the distance walked during a typical work session. 😲  Who knew!  

Preparing a base for the new tool shed - tamping

in sand to support new pavers

Laying 24 pavers to support the tool shed. 

Next week we'll build it.

 This old eight goes in the dumpster.

        Breaking boats - see a movie here.  

Tasks for March work session 

Continue to remove wineberry

Dig the False Indigobush in Sec 1, 2 and 3 

Clear the Magnolia, section 1

 Search & destroy Lesser Celandine

 Dig Phragmites, section 1

Check that pine cones are picked up


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