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Environmental Accomplishments
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Salt Marsh with Heron
BARC's Ecology Committee & Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group - February 2016
BARC's Ecology Committee and the local citizen's environmental group BCWWG have begun their 8th year together monitoring stream water quality on BARC. We survey four times a year searching for invertebrates residing on the bottom of the stream. These benthic aquatic invertebrates are caught, identified and released. This is a good indicator of what life the stream supports and hence the stream's water quality; purity, turbidity and oxygen content. Maryland's DNR has an algorithm that crunches the numbers and displays the water quality based on the resulting Index of Biotic Integrity. Our data agrees with other studies in this immediate area showing that for the Washington DC metro area, this area of BARC has some of, if not the best water quality in its streams. BARC Stream Health Chart
BARC BioBus Environmental Research Highlights Tour - July 2012
Compost A half day tour of BARC's environmental research and other programs sponsored by BARC's Ecology Committee and an environmental citizens group from Greenbelt, MD, Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group. Topics covered:
  • BARC Environmental Land Management
  • USDA-ARS Biofuels Research
  • Organic Farming and Global Change Research
  • Water Quality Research in the Choptank Watershed
  • Fish Migration in Local Streams
  • Compost Research, presented by Shannon Kondrad Ingram, pictured

Stormwater Drain Stenciling Project - October 2010
Don Williams BARC Environmental Unit Leader Employees from the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC), local residents and Prince George's County Department of Natural Resources officials participated in the BARC Stormwater Committee's first annual "Storm Drain Stenciling Event" on October 13, 2010. This event was designed to promote the protection of our local waterways; the Anacostia watershed, and the Chesapeake Bay by applying durable adhesive stickers and painting the messages "Anacostia Watershed Don't Pollute" and "Don't Dump Chesapeake Bay Drainage" on storm drain inlet structures.
More on Stormwater Drain Stenciling

Earth Day 2010 Stream Cleanup
Tires, photo Glen Welch The BARC Ecology Committee worked with local watershed improvement volunteer groups to clean up Indian Creek as part of the Anacostia Watershed Society's Earth Day cleanup. The work was organized by Citizens to Conserve and Restore Indian Creek (CCRIC). Resources were donated by local businesses including Konterra and ATK. A huge amount of trash was removed including 250 tires.

Field Day 2010
Demostrating Science The 100th Anniversary of BARC was celebrated in part by a Public Field Day with a historical theme. BARC's Ecology Committee, Glenn Welch pictured, presented a historical look at BARC's land and river acquisition. Here Glenn is showing some of our tadpole and insects to local children.

Invasive Plant Species
Mile-a-Minute Weed In cooperation with Maryland Department of Agriculture monitoring two sites for the effectiveness of the release of the mile-a-minute weevil (Rhinocominus latipes Korotyaev) to control the mile-a-minute invasive vine, Persicaria perfoliata (L.) H. Gross.
More information about Biological Control of mile-a-minute weed

The recently discovered invasive grass, wavyleaf basket grass is to date present at only one location on BARC and is being controlled.
More information about wavyleaf basketgrass

Employee volunteers planting a meadow2010. While lawns appear attractive and require only standard mowing for maintenance, they do not support diverse wildlife such as insects and birds. Over time, lawns become compacted and unable to readily absorb rain water consequently, they contribute more to storm water runoff problems than meadows. To increase wildlife habitat, decrease storm water runoff, and decrease maintenance costs, BARC implemented a meadow project in 1993 where 34 meadows were established.

In the mid-Atlantic region, open areas (lawns or meadows) would naturally return to forest, with woody species invading over time; thus, meadows require maintenance besides occasional mowing. Periodically surveying established meadows and removing woody species on a timely basis will maintain grassy and herbaceous species in a meadow. Occasional replanting may be required to fill in areas that become void of cover.

In 2008 the BARC Ecology Committee evaluated the BARC meadows and selected three areas for additional maintenance and replanting to invigorate the meadows with more diversity. In late fall 2009 woody material was removed and in spring 2010 native herbaceous and grass plants were planted in the meadows. Species planted were: columbine, swamp milkweed, wild blue indigo, hyssop-leaved thoroughwort, wild bergamont, yarrow, black-eyed susan, big bluestem, little bluestem and indiangrass. Funding for this project was provided by BARC administration.
More information about EcoScaping

Wildlife Monitoring
Breeding populations of frogs are documented each spring and summer, this year (2009) two previously unknown populations of breeding wood frogs were located.

In cooperation with Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group, benthic macro invertebrates (various insects, mollusks, arthropods, etc.) are surveyed 4 times per year by capture, ID and release methods. These organisms are biological indicators of water quality in the Beaverdam Creek watershed.
Businesses for the Bay Award
Businesses for the Bay
BARC has won a prestigious award in recognition of its leadership in nutrient management.

Macro Invertebrate ID - October 2008
Identifing Macro Invertebrates Identification of fresh water benthic (bottom dwelling) macro invertebrates from our rivers and streams is a real world, hands-on application for determining water quality.

In the photo at right it is being demonstrated by Glenn Welch of BARC's Ecology Committee to students from Pinehurst Elementary School, Salisbury, MD.

Closing the Circle
Closing The Circle AwardThe White House Closing the Circle (CTC) Awards recognizes Federal employees and their facilities for efforts which resulted in significant contributions to or have made a significant impact on the environment.
Biobased Products
BARC Environmental Management System
BARC Biodiesel Demonstration

BARC Hosts Tree Planting Event
Brian LeCouteur Urban Forester with COGThe Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) has partnered with the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) to organize reforestation events in the Anacostia watershed.

Anacostia Watershed and Chesapeake Bay Restoration
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the USDA, Agricultural Research Service's Beltsville Area signed an agreement to improve cooperation between the agencies on issues related to the restoration of the Anacostia Watershed and the Chesapeake Bay.

River Herring Fish Transplantation Event
Alewife Herring On Saturday April 14th, 2007, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments in partnership with the BARC, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group and friends, co-sponsored an Anacostia Watershed River herring fish transplantation event. The purpose is to reintroduce anadromous fish species, such as alewife Herring, back into Beaverdam Creek subwatershed.

ARS's Quest To Improve the Chesapeake Bay
Bald EagleSeveral Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research groups are investigating ways to mitigate or prevent harm from farming practices. The scientists are working to improve phosphorus management; nitrogen efficiency; and manure composting, testing, and treatment to prevent movement of pollutants into the bay.

Woodland FernForest Partnership
USDA Joins Partnership to Protect Rare Forest
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2006--The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) signed an agreement today with the state of Maryland and other adjacent landowners to protect a 25,660-acre East Coast natural area in the nation's capital region. The signing marks the formation of the Baltimore-Washington Partners for Forest Stewardship to develop a comprehensive Forest Stewardship Plan.

Chesapeake Research Pact
Chesapeake Bay ProgramOn October 5th, 2005 at Chesapeake Bay Day, ARS/BARC signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Quality Program of the Land Grant Universities. This Agreement will enhance research coordination to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States.

BARC Hosted Workshop on Bio-Based Products in Green Building
Recycled Polymer Roof ShinglesThe Use of Bio-based Products in Green Building Construction was held on June 10, 2005 at BARC. This workshop was convened by the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), and it brought together individuals in the building trades with those from the bio-based products industry for a successful exchange of ideas and information.

BARC Hosts Beaverdam Creek Watershed Education Workshop
Beaverdam CreekThe Beaverdam Creek Watershed Education Workshop was held on October 1, 2005 at BARC. This workshop was convened by the Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group and the Anacostia Watershed Citizen's Advisory Committee, in partnership with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Summit Fund of Washington. It provided an opportunity to learn more about the watershed and how you can get involved in the protection and restoration of this unique area.

According to Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments, Upper Beaverdam Creek, due to its generally healthy overall condition, was selected by the Maryland Department of the Environment as the reference Coastal Plain stream for the development of Maryland's Anacostia Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load.

BARC Hosts Mid-Atlantic Composting and Compost Use Conference and Expo
BARC Composting FacilityThe Mid-Atlantic Composting and Compost Use Conference and Expo was held at BARC on September 21-23, 2005. The biennial event will include paper sessions and a trade show during the first two days and a tour of composting and compost use sites on the last day. This is a collaborative event planned by the Mid-Atlantic Composting Association (MACA) and extension and research faculty from mid-Atlantic region universities. Please visit

ARS News and Events - ARS Center to Heat With Soy-Based Biodiesel
Farm machines at BARC that run on biodiesel - ARS photo K8247-15WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2000--As the country faces a winter with tight supplies of home heating oil, some U.S. Department of Agriculture employees in Beltsville, Md., as well as nearby dairy cows, will stay warm this winter with biodiesel fuel.

BARC's fleet of 150 farm and road vehicles are using 'B20,' a 20-percent soy-based biodiesel/80-percent regular diesel mix.

Precision Agriculture Forum
Dr. Ron Korcak, Associate Director of BARC, moderated a Precision Agriculture Forum which is sponsored by The Nutrient Management Program, a cooperative effort between Maryland Cooperative Extension and the Maryland Department of Agriculture, on September 21, 2005 at the Patuxent National Wildlife Center in Laurel, Maryland. The objective was to understand the opportunities for and the obstacles to expansion of the use of precision agriculture in Maryland and the region, to better understand the different technicalities that relate to geo-spatial information, and to evaluate and show the benefits of the technology for farmers, crop production, and the environment.

BARC and the Chesapeake Bay
On July 13, 2005 Scientists from our Crop Systems & Global Change Laboratory discussed the potential use of crop simulation models, developed at BARC, to better predict effects of agricultural best management practices on reducing nitrogen and phosphorous impacts on water quality at a Chesapeake Bay Program Nutrient Subcommittee meeting; the meeting was hosted by BARC.

U.S. National Arboretum Community Partnership Work Day
On Thursday morning, August 8, 2005, over 25 arboretum staff members joined residents of the Langston Craver Terrace community for a major cleanup project along the southern boundary of the U.S. National Arboretum. This effort was part of a joint project involving the Executive Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia, local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, the D.C. Department of Public Works, and local residents. This project will help upgrade and improve the neighborhood in the area of M Street in Northeast Washington, D.C. The work involves the removal of tons of numerous weed trees, shrubs, vines and illegally dumped trash and debris. The arboretum, the neighborhood, and the District of Columbia will continue to work together on this and future projects.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Riparian Buffers
A series of systematic studies of a riparian grass buffer zone by BARC scientists Dr. Jim Starr, Dr. Ali Sadeghi, and Dr. Yakov Pachepsky has shown that a specially designed field chamber has proven itself to be a good tool when used together with a computer model to evaluate how effectively riparian buffers filter out pollutants before they can reach streams or other bodies of water. After success with a prototype chamber in the laboratory, the scientists installed a field version of the chamber through which they were able to monitor the rates of lateral water flow and the loss of nitrate due to its breakdown by soil microbes. Scientists used the two-dimensional computer model HYDRUS-2D to simulate water flow and transport of chemicals within the riparian zone soil. The experimental chamber is essential for the accurate use of the growing number of computer models being developed to assess the effectiveness of riparian buffers.

You Have The Power
Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program Energy Champions