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2022 End of Year Bioswale report

Page history last edited by Mary.Ellsworth 1 year, 1 month ago

End of year Bioswale report 2022

Mary Ellsworth and Jim Smailes


Results of volunteer work - why do we do it


After a surge of tall growth along the edge of the river in 2020-21, the river is once again in view. That is due to incredible effort by many volunteers during fall of 2021, along with the stump grinding in February, 2022. This year we worked to maintain the lower profile, mostly by eliminating young False Indigobush wherever we found it. Volunteers again focused on various invasive species of vines and woody growth.


Invasive species removal is known to be an intensive and exhausting effort. We know river waters, wind and birds are a constant source of seed and vegetation dispersion. According to Jorge Montero of Anacostia Watershed Society, realistically we can expect nonnatives (including invasives) to cover 40-60% of a riparian meadow like the bioswale. We estimate that the bioswale is well within that range, due to the efforts of our volunteers. The area supports many native species including bald cypress, serviceberry, sweet bay magnolia, red twig dogwoods, persimmon, viburnum and switchgrass. Jorge points out that the kind of effort we have here at ACBA is ideal because it is an ongoing commitment, not just a one time or occasional thing.



Jorge characterizes the bioswale work sessions as part of the watershed-wide efforts to (1) manage stormwater runoff and (2) propagate native plants & remove invasives to help wildlife. He says “new research has shown that pockets of native plant habitats in urban areas can go a long way to help some species like bees and other pollinators.” We know we have beavers and muskrats, at least one groundhog, many bird species, black snakes, with shadfish and mussels near our shore, and now maybe otters in the area. We are excited to be a small pocket in the large regional effort to reclaim the Anacostia River.



Monthly Work Session summaries are here (all previously submitted). Scrolling quickly through you see the seasonal greening, blooming, and fall browning of the river shore.



Numbers of participants in 2022

(on Sundays, unless otherwise indicated)


     February 16 - 2 volunteers. Hired landscaper to grind stumps.
     March 19 64 volunteers. 36 Gonzaga HS Day of Service students, 20 parents & coaches, plus 8 fr ACBA

    April 23Saturday, Earth Day 61 volunteers. 15 bags of trash and 11 bags of recyclables were collected by 45 sign ups with                       AWS, 6 site leaders, + 10 ACBA volunteers.
     April 27, Wednesday - 29 volunteers. 25 Academy of the Holy Cross students + 4 chaperones. Planted 100 switchgrass plugs.                     Cleared the bicycle area.
     May 22 9 volunteers. Work day for Capital Juniors +ACBA. Cleared fences so the emergency gate can open.

    June 26 14 volunteers. Focus on clearing rocks along edge of plaza
    July 31 8 volunteers We planted wild rice from AWS
     August 28 11 volunteers. Tried out weed whacking - not effective enough to warrant the effort.
     September 25 12 volunteers. Focus on clearing Bald Cypress
     October 16 11 volunteers. Cleared overgrowth on fence along the road
     November 6 11 volunteers. Cut weedy trees next to paddlers’ dock.


     Total: 232 volunteers in 2022



New in 2022


  • Thank you to ACBA board for supporting the stump grinding in February

  • We hosted Day of Service events for three high school groups, involving 70 students.

  • We bought good quality wildflower seed and cast it in the bioswale, and were rewarded with a colorful

    display of floral beauty throughout the summer and into the fall.

  • This year we reported volunteer hours to the CRC Volunteer Coordinator after each work session. We

    are very willing to help other programs track their volunteer members as well.

  • Mary has been writing monthly summaries for several years, but this year we began sharing those with

    the ACBA Board.

  • We started sending a thank you note to each month’s volunteers.

  • In an effort to knock back woody growth, we tried to figure out mowing, but we’re still not clear how to

    do it. Volunteers tried weed whackers but it was deemed not worth the effort.



To do in 2023


  • There is interest in participating in an Otter Project with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). The collaboration will involve reporting otter observations and otter scat analysis.
  • We encourage student Day-of-Service activities. We’re happy to work with more schools on more events.
  • We’d like to broaden participation in work sessions from all ACBA programs. In particular we’re looking forward to working with Christina Dragon, incoming president of DC Strokes, to increase participation from their program. Also we are excited about the intentional participation of rowers from our member high schools.
  • We are hopeful for a Tool shed from Gonzaga parents, which will alleviate crowding in the ACBA cage and relieve Jim and Mary of carrying supplies/tools back and forth every work session day.
  • Note: Earth Day will be Saturday, April 22, 2023 We’d like to repeat last years early work session in March, but need to work this out - the last Sunday is the 26th, which is a conflict with another event.


For the River!






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