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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Volunteers form friends group for Long Branch Stream Valley

Volunteers collect trash along the Long Branch trail Oct. 18. [LBSV photos]
Volunteers from several Annandale and Fairfax neighborhoods created a new group, the Friends of Long Branch Stream Valley, to maintain the trail and address erosion, water quality management, invasive species removal, and related environmental issues.

The 2.75-mile Long Branch trail follows the stream from Olley Road to Wakefield Chapel Road at Braddock Road. From that point, it’s easy to connect to the Cross County Trail.

Cleanup Day.
“The trail is very important. The Long Branch stream valley is one small part of a bigger ecosystem. It feeds into Accotink Creek and, ultimately, into Chesapeake Bay,” said Chris Bauernshub, president of Friends of Long Branch Stream Valley.

When Bauernshub, moved to from Alexandria to the Stonehaven community in Annandale seven months ago, he realized he wanted to get involved in the community. Anthony Vellucci, who represents the Braddock District on the Fairfax County Park Authority Board, happened to be interested in creating a friends group for Long Branch and encouraged Bauernshub to spearhead that effort.

Bauernshub reached out to the communities adjacent to the stream valley, including Olde Forge, Surrey Square, Rutherford, Long Branch, Bradfield, Red Fox Forest, Canterbury Woods, Stonehaven, and Little Run. Members of Friends of Accotink Creek and Friends of Lake Accotink helped get the new friends group off the ground.

Several volunteers stepped in. Scott Thaxton of Stonehaven is vice president of the Long Branch friends group, Allison Hagner of Long Branch is taking charge of community outreach, and Kate Insley of Little Run is responsible for educational awareness. The group held its first meeting in September.

“The new group has been received very well,” Bauernshub says. “Everybody wants to help. The challenge is getting to that first step – how to help and where to help.”

About 50 people, ranging in age from 4 to 70, took part in the Friends of Long Branch’s first event – a cleanup session Oct. 18. The group filled up about 35 large trash bags, Bauernshub reports.

The next activity, a trail maintenance project, will be scheduled for the first or second weekend in  November. Volunteers will lay down gravel provided by the Park Authority to fill in low-lying sections of the trail. Students who need to log community service hours are encouraged to participate.

“The enthusiasm from the community is fantastic,” Bauernshub says. “People understand they really have to do their part.”

If you’d like to join the Friends group, contact Chris Bauernshub, 703-597-1701, chrisbauernshub@gmail.com, or friendslbsv@gmail.com.

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