ANS Meets Audubon Estates in Northern Virginia

Monica Billger demonstrating Creek Critters app to children

Monica Billger demonstrating Creek Critters app to children

This month, ANS VA Conservation Advocate Monica Billger developed and participated in a Communities for Clean Streams event in an under served community in Northern Virginia.  The Audubon Estates community sits along Little Hunting Creek, a highly degraded stream in Fairfax County.  A mobile home community with over 700 trailers covers the property leaving very little space for children to play, explore and commune with nature. The creek at the back of the property is tidal, rising and falling in depth and the surrounding green space is littered with pollution making it an uninviting play space.  A mother’s advocacy interested in providing additional educational opportunities to her children and cleaning up a common area prompted ANS to work with the community. ANS partnered with the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, Fairfax County Dept. of Environmental Health Services, Good Shepherd Catholic Church, and United Community Ministries to provide an educational watershed experience for the children and families living there.  36 families participated in using the Creek Critters app, learned about stormwater pollution through an enviroscape model and received information about mosquito control and prevention.  In addition, participants engaged in a local clean-up effort of the stream and surrounding park area. The clean-up effort resulted in pulling over 4 bicycles (bicycle parts) and an additional 6 bags of trash from the stream and surrounding area.
Eliza Cava and Monica Billger of ANS show results of stream clean-up

Eliza Cava and Monica Billger of ANS show results of stream clean-up

ANS collected Creek Critter data on Little Hunting Creek that concluded the health of the stream was poor. Benthic macroinvertebrates included aquatic Worms, planaria, leeches, crayfish, Clams or Mussels, pouch snails and gilled snails. It should be noted that this was an atypical creek critters collection due to the brackish nature of the stream.  Nonetheless, children and adults were thrilled to put on their waders and jump into the stream. Many found minnows and a newfound appreciation for the stream in their backyard. ANS looks forward to working with the community again in the near future and collaborating with local partners to develop additional watershed experiences.
Collecting Creek Critters

Collecting Creek Critters

   
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