News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Treepocalypse Now: The March of the Hobbits

With the Snakeden reach nearly completely napalmed restored, the tree-lovin' folks at WSSI held a "pre-design walk" along Glade Stream this past weekend to discuss the next phase of the ongoing streambed restoration project, which has been entirely uneventful and well-received by a grateful Reston constituency. Consider it an open house, or an open woods, maybe, and our favorite correspondent, the Peasant from Less Sought After South Reston, was there to provide LIVE TEAM COVERAGE of the whole sordid affair. Here, scrawled on a series of leaves plucked from the last standing tree within 100 yards of Snakeden, is his dispatch:

Dressed in a non-DRB approved camouflage pattern of white stones tastefully set off against a red mulch background, The Peasant skillfully blends in with fellow South Reston tree-huggers for a three-hour cram session on hydraulic engineering and some new-fangled discipline called "benthics" that apparently refers to all them creepy little critters living on the bottom of a body of water.

As we mull around the campfire ring off of Soapstone on a beautiful spring morning in anticipation of the event, The Peasant soon realizes that the ambience is eerily reminiscent of those early scenes from "The Lord of the Rings" where happy hobbits hobnob in Hobbiton. We are greeted by our version of Gandalf, WSSI's Mike Rolband, who, in lieu of Gandalf's robes and pointy wizard's hat, is attired in natty camo pants and baseball cap. Soon enough, Wizard Mike leads our assembled contingent -- The Fellowship of the Campfire Ring, so to speak -- of 50 middle-aged, middle class hobbits (a few of whom looked like they actually should have been heading instead to the upcoming 40th anniversary of Woodstock) on our magical mystery tour of Reach 5. To keep any rowdy hobbits among us from misbehaving, WSSI brings along two dogs representing breeds known to inspire fear and terror. No, we are not talking about a Doberman and a Rottweiler, but rather a golden retriever and a golden doodle.

First stop is the proposed staging area in the woods just east of Soapstone for the heavy equipment and materials. Guarding the entrance to this area is, of all things, a deer skeleton (the gardeners among us assembled hobbits who have been terrorized by Bambi and Thumper's jihadi raids on our landscaping exult in silent hosannas at the sight of this dead four-legged terrorist). There is some discussion here as well of "depressed culverts" -- maybe spiking the storm runoff with some Prozac will help lift the culverts out of their funk? The Fellowship then continues east along the dirt path over the sewer line in what might aptly be termed a trek over dreck. As the Fellowship plods along, The Peasant cannot help but notice that many fellow tree-huggers are incapable of keeping to the dirt path and instead walk on either side of it, in the process trampling several hundred little ferns who are screaming for their lives. All this trampling in the name of protecting Mother Nature!

At the end of our trek we reach what WSSI referred to as "the beaver area". One wonders what newly testosterone-ized 13-year old boys could do with this term, but being mature adults we will not touch this with a 10-foot pole (or a Hungarian or Slovak, for that matter). Nevertheless, "the beaver area", named in honor of the now-departed and orthodontically-challenged critters who several years back turned a wooded area into a mosquito-infested swamp that would not look out of place in Mordor, provokes the only true dispute of the day. When one resident whose house overlooks Reston's version of the Joisey Meadowlands suggests it be drained, she is given a literal and enthusiastic thumbs-down from a granola-crunching granny standing nearby. Granola Crunching Granny, in turn, is subjected to one of several tirades we are treated to that morning from a certain Mr. Know-It-All, whom we suspect is one of those hobbits who has taken a wrong turn on his way back to Woodstock. Mr. Know-It-All even expounds on the best ways to kill those pesky little varmints, much to the horror of Granola Crunching Granny. Wizard Mike adroitly ends the squabbling among the hobbits by stating as only a wise wizard could, "I don't control the beavers."

As we make the return trip back to Hobbiton, Wizard Mike explains that the entire streambed will have to be lined with giant rocks in order to meet Army Corps of Engineers standards, a fact that does not amuse some of the assembled hobbits who clearly disapprove of obese boulders. However, in the spirit of Treebeard the Ent, he offers reassurances that WSSI will not pull a clear-cutting here worthy of the Snakeden Blitzkrieg that made even Amazonian deforesters, er, loggers, jealous. Rather, WSSI will take down as few trees of the 2,513 trees (yes, they counted) in this area as possible, sparing the specimen trees and those home to such feathered friends as the resident barred owls who somehow manage to nest there without paying their annual RA assessment.

Snark aside, The Peasant is impressed that A) WSSI seems to have learned from the Snakeden fiasco; B) Wizard Mike genuinely seems to have heard community concerns; and C) the Wizard knows his stuff. If all goes well, the entire Glade restoration to Twin Branches will be finished by summer 2010.

And then, Sought After North Reston, it will be YOUR turn. Colvin Run -- you're next!
He's right, as can be seen by this terrifying WSSI map that shows the areas of Colvin Run which will be subjected to nuclear winter in the near future. In the meantime, here's an artist's conception of what the remediated Glade reach will look like following the streambed restoration:


  1. I enjoyed reading Peasant's account. Very nice. :D

  2. I experienced largely the same impressions (including the colorful folk therein described) when we did the walk for 4 A&B. WSSI is trying to be responsive and responsible -- I've been very pleased with their follow-up on many questions.

    I also noted that when I went on 4A&B's walks, at least one person who I know DOES NOT LIVE IN RESTON came along. Could it be that the free lunch drew him? Or the fact that he is a big supporter of Sierra Club?

    At any rate, I could never have made it as interesting and entertaining as the Peasant. Well done.

  3. I walked Snake Den last weekend. There are more standing funk puddles full of shmelly shtank than ever in my 30+ years of being here. The smell of human sewage waste was distgusting.

    Pockets lined, palms greased, nothing to see here. Move along.


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