Anacostia Watershed Blog

Invasive Species Mayhem in the Forests of the Anacostia River

You may have wondered why are there so many leafless trees in mid-summer along the Anacostia River. The short answer is EAB. That is, Emerald Ash Borer. It is a beetle scientifically known as Agrilus planipennis, first detected in North America in 2002. It was accidentally introduced from Asia most likely as a hitchhiker in wood packing materials. If you ask us what’s our worst invasive species in the Anacostia River watershed, EAB is definitely on top of that list. EAB is the poster child of a highly invasive species, a nonnative species that causes ecological and economic harm, and in the case of EAB the impacts are evident and well documented. 

The Fight Against Phragmites


The fight against invasive plants is a difficult one, as a matter of fact, it is a battle you shouldn't necessarily expect to win.

Removing invasive plants is not an easy enterprise, especially when it has to be done in a wetland, a rather muddy, wet and messy habitat to deal with. Our first Phragmites removal project started in 2010, and even though we made great strides for a couple of years, the effort fell apart when we left the site unattended for a growing season due to lack of funding, and, we were also busy with other ventures. One growing season, then another growing season… and then, you guessed it! Phragmites took over again. Ironically, Phragmites had previously encroached upon the same site after a previous wetland revegetation effort (which we still don’t know who did) was left unmaintained and the Phragmites literally took the whole site over. So, Phragmites = 2, people = ZERO. Ouch!!

Stream Restoration is Just One Key piece to the Anacostia River's Revitalization

By: Cyrus Chimento (Stewardship Intern)


Stream restoration projects have been a preferred tool for reducing pollution and gaining TMDL credits. However, it turns out that there is a shortage of data supporting the ability of stream restoration projects to reduce pollution, especially in the long-term.

The Bay Journal’s late October article, “Researchers examining effectiveness of stream restoration”, reported on the question of whether stream restoration, an expensive but favored tool of watershed improvement in Maryland, is resulting in ecological benefits that justify the investment.

El regreso de la vegetación acuática sumergida

Escrito y traducido por Alisa Fried, AWS Pasante

The Return of S.A.V.

By: Alisa Fried, AWS Stewardship Intern*


The presence of underwater grasses provides various benefits to the river and the organisms that live in and around it. 

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation, The River’s Health Barometer

By: Audrey Pleva


Wild Celery underwater in the Susquehanna River. Credit: Debbie Hinkle, Chesapeake Quarterly

AWS is now moving underwater and beginning an exciting effort to restore the river’s submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV).  These beautiful grasses are essential to cleaning the river and providing oxygen to our suffocating fish and other aquatic organisms.

Restoring the River’s Wetlands


Gateways consists of non-tidal wetlands with a total area of about 10 acres, the picture shows a pond located right in the middle of the wetland which normally dries out in late summer. This pond provides important habitat for aquatic plants, invertebrates, wetland birds, amphibians, reptiles and other organisms.

Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species, in the Anacostia Watershed...??

Yes, indeed. Even in our highly urban watershed there are still some valuable biodiversity gems in need of conservation. Even though it is evident that a bulk of the species of plants and animals occurring in the Anacostia River watershed are widespread in the region and are “secure” to “apparently secure” according to NatureServe’s conservation status ranking system. But, with a decent area of natural habitats protected as public parks there’s got to be some “valuable” (conservation-wise) species rare species, and there are indeed.

A Briny Challenge to Cleaning the River

By Jorge Bogantes Montero
Natural Resources Specialist

With the exceptional polar surges we had earlier on, and a few significant snowstorms, the road salting season is in full swing. And with it come gargantuan quantities of sand applied to the sidewalks and roadways, often over applied, causing negative impacts on the waterways and the biodiversity of the watershed. This is one of the biggest challenges we face to improving the water quality in the Anacostia River and its tributaries since Sodium Chloride NaCl (aka salt) can affect the soils, water (both surface and ground water), plants and animals. Contamination of sodium in drinking water has been an issue in other areas of the country which is a concerning public health issue.

The Vine that Ate the South

You may have heard about "the vine that ate the south", Kudzu. Or you may have googled the name of the invasive just to get a peek at the plentiful photos of the vine available on the web. This includes staggering pictures of the vine choking out shrubs, trees, cars and even entire houses! Well, Kudzu is not just a problem of the south, anymore. The vine has been gradually spreading out of the the southeast where it was originally introduced to tackle the overwhelming soil erosion problems faced in that region as a result of unsustainable farming practices. Nowadays Kudzu can be found north and west all the way to Michigan, upstate New York and Washington state.


The heat island effect created by the highly urban environment of the Anacostia watershed makes it a Kudzu haven.