Conservation Assistance Program

Funding Assistance for Conservation Work on Homeowner and Community Association Property

Have you ever thought about improving your community’s common lands by installing a rain garden to capture runoff, incorporating native meadow or tree and shrub species into your landscaping, or even installing porous pavers on a portion of your parking lot? Do you want to improve the energy efficiency of your community’s club house or other shared building? These practices and more are now eligible for cost-share funding through the newly-launched Conservation Assistance Program (CAP).

Visit the CAP webpage on the Conservation District’s website to learn more about eligible practices, funding levels, and who can apply. Applications are due by March 11th, so don’t delay!

For other updates, please consider subscribing to NVSWCD’s monthly watershed calendar. Email conservationdistrict@fairfaxcounty.gov to subscribe.

Environmental News Roundup – Mar. 4, 2015

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Baby Tortoises Born On Galapagos Island For First Time In A Century

For the first time in more than one hundred years, researchers have found newborn baby tortoises on the tiny Galapagos island of Pinzón. It’s a major win for a population that has struggled after being nearly decimated by human impact.

Senate Keystone veto override vote expected Thursday

Opponents are optimistic the override vote will fail and are putting increased pressure on Obama to reject the pipeline outright as soon as possible.

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World Wildlife Day: Kenya Burns 15 Tons of Stockpiled Ivory

Kenya burned tons of stockpiled ivory, sending a strong message against elephant poaching and ivory trafficking. The burning is the latest in a series of ivory stockpile destructions by nations across the world. During the past three years, Gabon, Belgium, Chad, China, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Gabon, France, Philippines, and the USA have all destroyed contraband ivory and rhino horn.

Energy company could end funding for climate change denier

Funders appear to be backing away from a prominent climate change denier who may have failed to disclose that his peer-reviewed articles were funded with grants from petroleum companies.

Article Roundup: 10 Nutty Facts about Squirrels

Squirrels have been around for ages. . . and they are EVERYWHERE. Yet, not many people know much about these furry little creatures. A blog released by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), includes 10 nutty facts about squirrels.

Squirrel in Oak Tree by Linda Black

Photo taken by Linda Black http://www.nwf.org/photocontest/

  1. Squirrels can find food buried beneath a foot of snow.
  2. A squirrel’s front teeth never stop growing.
  3. Squirrels may lost 25% of their buried food to thieves.
  4. They zigzag to escape predators.
  5. Squirrels may pretend to bury a nut to throw off potential thieves.
  6. A newborn squirrel is about an inch long.
  7. Humans introduced squirrels to most of our major city parks.
  8. Squirrels are acrobatic, intelligent and adaptable.
  9. They get bulky to stay warm during the winter.
  10. Squirrels don’t dig up all of their buried nuts, which results in more trees!


To find out more information about squirrels and ways to celebrate them, click here.

Latinos Fighting for Protection of Public Land and Heritage

For many years, Latinos from western U.S. states have used public land resources such as parks and mountains, and conserved it for future generations, to embrace and protect nature’s gifts.

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Hundreds of sportsmen and women gathered at the New Mexico Capitol in January to protest against public land transfers (photo from www.hechoonline.com)

There is a fear that these public lands would be sold to private owners, which would restrict common people to access the land. It could be be converted into commercial use, which the wealthy can hunt, fish, and recreate. Yet, many Latinos and organizations such as Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Housing and Outdoors (HECHO), take a stand against that, and try whatever way possible to conserve these beautiful parks. An article written by HECHO explains what would happen if public land transfers happened.

“So many of us take for granted that public land will be here forever, but that may not be the case if we do not act.”   – Max Trujillo (HECHO)

Environmental News Roundup – Feb. 25, 2015

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Obama just vetoed Congress’ bill to approve Keystone XL. Here’s Why.

Keystone XL has become a proxy for a much bigger debate about North America’s energy boom, which is creating jobs and lowering energy prices, but also threatens to help cook the planet. So what follows is a guide to how Keystone XL became so contentious, why it’s becoming less relevant, and how it fits into the broader energy discussion.

State proposes fining CSX for Lynchburg oil spill

Virginia’s environmental regulators want to fine CSX Transportation $361,000 for the April 2014 derailment in Lynchburg that spilled more than 29,000 gallons of oil into the James River.

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Bill Gates and other business leaders urge U.S. to increase energy research

The government is spending far too little money on energy research, putting at risk the long-term goals of reducing carbon emissions and alleviating energy poverty, some of the country’s top business leaders found in a new report.

Dominion identifies alternative routes for planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Dominion has yet to decide on which route will be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which ultimately will approve or deny the project.

Winter is Here: ECO-Friendly Snow Removal

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The U.S. has already seen its fair share of snowfall this winter. The city of Boston even created a website earlier this week dedicated to covering snow related operations and statistics. Boston has received upwards of 90 inches of snowfall so far.

With more snow expected to hit the eastern half of the United States, it is important to know how to go about snow removal in an environmentally friendly way.

The primary issues surrounding snow removal are finding where to put it all and how to go about it. Snowmelt or runoff is a way for harmful chemicals and waste to easily enter into waterways so it is crucial to consider products that are the least harmful to the environment.

The easiest way to be environmentally friendly when going about snow removal, however, is to clear as much snow as possible with just a standard shovel. Limit the use of a gas powered or any kind of snow blower if possible. If you are able to clear your roadways and walkways with little to no use of an ice melt product, you are also guaranteeing that nothing foreign is being introduced into your snowmelt.

If you are intent on using an ice melt product in your snow removal, check the ingredients of the products you are using and find out whether or not they are EPA certified. The Environmental Protection Agency has a certification that it gives to products that are part of their Design for the Environment Program (DfE label are on these products). Safe Paw Ice Melt is a product that is safe to use around pets, children, and vegetation. Many other eco-friendly ice melt products contain calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) rather than traditional salt that both corrodes and damages the surfaces or vegetation it is used near.

Overuse of salt and other ice melt products will have lasting negative impacts on vegetation and water supplies. Fairfaxcounty.gov has a slideshow detailing damage caused to trees due to salt and other de-icer products. No matter the type of ice melt your are using, most contain ingredients that the environment would rather do without.

Shoveling and sweeping remain the most eco-friendly ways of snow removal.

Be safe when clearing snow and enjoy the winter weather as much as possible!

Environmental News Roundup – Feb. 18, 2015

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Climate change report makes doomsday predictions for NYC

Sea levels will increase 11 to 21 inches by the 2050s, 18 to 39 inches by the 2080s, and 22 to 50 inches by 2100, the group warned. And in the worst case scenario, the jump will be more than 6 feet if climate change goes unchecked.

Winter Weather: ‘Siberian Express’ Coming to Iced-Over South

Potentially record-setting cold is about to cause more misery for more than 250,000 people still struggling without power across the Southeast.

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Atlantic Coast Pipeline would shave energy costs by $377 million, study says

The pipeline has stirred strong opposition in parts of western Virginia, particularly Nelson and Augusta counties, where opponents contend they would bear the environmental costs of a project that primarily would benefit southeastern Virginia and North Carolina.

Endangered Species: White House plan would ramp up trafficking enforcement

Conservation groups were quick to praise the new plan. Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristián Samper said in a statement that it represents “an unprecedented commitment from the United States government to curb wildlife trafficking, an ever-increasing threat to our world’s wildlife, and to global, regional and local security.”

Semi-Daily Environmental Video Break

It’s time to get excited! We will posting a Semi-Daily Environmental Video Break. Stay tuned to watch some serious, funny, and interesting videos on environmental issues.

Today’s video is titled The Majestic Plastic Bag. It takes us on a journey of a plastic bag. The bag’s miraculous migration shows us how it ends up with the rest of the diverse plastic bag community. It travels into the gateway of the open sea, and into the Great Specific Garbage Patch.

Here are some fun facts about plastic bags:
– Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every minute, and 1 trillion are used every year worldwide
– Plastic bags remain toxic even after they break down

The problem:
– About 6 million plastic bags are used in the United States each year.
– Plastic bags cause the death of my marine animals such as fish, sea turtles, etc. each year.

How you can make a difference:
– Recycle your plastic bags
– Reuse: use it for garbage lining or create an up-cycling project
– Reduce: use reusable bags instead of plastic bags. Make a donation to Clean Fairfax Council, to receive a reusable bag.

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To find out more interesting facts about plastic bags, please click here.

Virginia’s Potential Plastic Bag Bill

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The Virginia General Assembly is in session and debating the outcome of SB1103: a bill that would allow any locality to prohibit the distribution, sale, or offering of disposable plastic bags to consumers. SB1103 aims to prohibit single use plastic grocery bags and will not target reusable plastic bags, garbage bags, and bags used for meats, prescription drugs, and alcohol among other specialty items.

Single use plastic bags often end up in Virginia’s waterways and have negative impacts on wildlife. Despite the fact that plastic bags can be recycled, the vast majority of them are not. This places extra financial and energy costs on the continued manufacturing of the same types of plastic bags.

Along with recycling centers, many of the stores that utilize these types of bags for their customers also accept them back as recycling. Click here to find a recycling center or find out which stores recycle your plastic bags.

A Virginia Beach Republican Senator introduced SB1103 and the Senate of Virginia passed it with a vote of 20 to 16. The plastic bag bill must also pass the House of Delegates.

As of February 11, the House has referred the bill to the House Committee on Commerce and Labor for review. It is important to note that SB1103 does not implement a statewide ban of plastic bags. Instead, it leaves the decision on how to legislate the issue up to individual localities.

The plastic bag bill is a step in the right direction for the environment, but action to reduce the amount of plastic bags ending up in our waterways can be taken with or without legislation. Recycling infrastructure is already in place among the companies that utilize these types of plastic bags. Also, there are manufacturing companies, such as Trex, that will recycle and turn these bags into materials for building. Resources for recycling are already available.

Recycling, especially when it comes to plastics, makes sense for both the economy and the environment.

Clean Fairfax will continue to follow the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session.

You can track SB1103 here.

A Look at Recycling Plastics

home-recycling-heroPlastics have become a major part of everyday life.

They now make up roughly 13 percent of municipal solid waste, or everyday trash generated by the public, in the United States. Because of the role that plastics play in our daily lives, it is up to the public to utilize the benefits of proper recycling.

The most common forms of plastics that we encounter are in the form of containers, such as bottles, and in packaging materials. But, plastics are also found in trash bags, furniture, and everyday appliances. According to RecyclingAcrossAmerica.org, Americans throw away on average 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. This is despite the ease of curbside recycling at the home and the fact that plastic bottles are already among the top items recycled in the United States. There is potential for both increased environmental and economic benefits by recycling these everyday items.

The basic idea behind recycling plastics is that they can be remade into useful products and save both money and physical space in the growing landfills across the United States.

According to Waste Management Inc., making plastics from plastics rather than raw materials can save roughly 88 percent of the energy used in the process. Recycling the everyday plastics we use in our daily lives will help dramatically cut down on these energy costs.

A major benefit of plastics is that they have varied uses from creating containers to household furniture and even material in durable and protective clothing. Plastics are also much lighter than other materials such as glass or metal and can decrease the amount of fuel and energy costs in terms of shipping and packaging.

There are enough benefits behind the use of plastics to make recycling them worthwhile. The value behind these benefits, however, decreases if the United States does not take advantage of the opportunity to recycle plastics.

Currently, around 80 percent of the population has access to some kind of recycling program. Take advantage of the opportunity to recycle and spread awareness about the benefits of doing so. Visit Waste Management Inc.’s learning center and get the basics about recycling plastics from the Environmental Protection Agency here.