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Get over the beavers: Up with turtles

Changing scene at Ballston Pond
Changing scene at Ballston Pond
James George

Up with turtles. I watched the last of the beavers, their dried dead carcuses floating in the floodwater heading downstream a few years ago. There was nothing left for them to eat. They had downed most of the good trees inside the fence by Ballston Pond. They became condo dwellers, living in the sewer. They had dental problems because they couldn’t chew enough.

Turtles will be coming to a new Ballston Pond
James George

I saw a beaver sitting in the low branches of a tree on that short passageway of trail between George Mason and Fairfax Blvd in Ballston. It came out from the sewer to rest in the shade. A couple of years later and Arlington County cut down that tree, along with the wild grapes that used to grow there. It was charming to snack on wild fruit along the way, but that has been cleaned up.

The message is to let a little more grow wild please. Also, we need more green space.

A deer hopped into the Ballston Pond area to have its fawn. They stayed for awhile. At night, I saw them jump over the fence to eat grass in the nearby lawn. At day, they would hop back and lay low by Interstate 66. It didn’t take long before their lives were extinguished by a passing motorist.

Is it nature that doesn’t make good neighbors or is it we who need to be more accommodating?

Having the “Ballston Pond” blog to talk about it is a great idea.

Citizens need to get involved in local planning.

  • Advocate more green space and parks
  • Enlarge the canopy and encourage more tree planting
  • Engineer to accommodate people and nature
  • Eliminate pesticide use that is killing pollinators and spoiling clean water

If citizens don't express their wishes, county government will decide for themselves. Hopefully, they will get it right. However, the canopy is shrinking at present.

"It’s All About the Beavers, Right?
awinquist | June 19, 2014 |

Well, not exactly. The Ballston Pond was originally designed and constructed as a stormwater detention facility to collect and slow stormwater runoff from Interstate 66 when the highway was built. In the 1990s, beavers moved into the pond and constructed a dam near the outflow structure, raising the water level higher than originally designed, which created ponds and wetlands. Beavers are nature’s wetland engineers!

Ballston Pond has never had a ‘’permanent’’ population of beaver. Over the past fifteen years, beavers have periodically arrived at the wetland and temporarily taken up residence. This happens to some degree all across Arlington annually. Arlington lacks the habitat capacity for year-round beaver residence, with the possible exception of Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary (NPS), a tidal marsh community directly across from Reagan National Airport.
Each spring, a number of two-year old beavers, ejected from their family unit, begin to wander in an effort to locate a new home territory. They arrive in Arlington via the Potomac River and up various tributaries in search of new homes. Each year we have reports of several beaver occupying various sections of stream or ponds. They normally do not stay more than a month or two since these sites do not provide all habitat requirement for a stable and reproducing population. Ballston Pond is one site that has experienced reproduction in the past, but lacks a sufficient renewable source of food to support an on-going population. The last reported beaver at Ballston Pond was in 2008. You can see beavers (or at least their lodge) at Huntley Meadow’s Park in Fairfax County.

Over the years, Ballston Pond has been filling up with sediments deposited by stormwater runoff. The pond is no longer functioning as originally designed, and its water quality benefits are limited due to water flowing straight through the pond instead of taking a more circuitous route. In addition to invasive plants, trash is a continual issue.”

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