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Discovery of hawks nest puts Oakton stormwater pond repairs on hold

Two hawks have a nest in a tree at the Circle Woods stormwater pond in Oakton (courtesy DPWES)

Maintenance work on the Circle Woods stormwater pond in Oakton will have to wait until this summer — or until the hawks nesting in a nearby tree take their leave.

The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) shared on Monday (April 3) that its contractor had encountered an “active hawks nest” in a tree that has been slated for removal.

The birds and their nest are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treat Act and a nationwide permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the county.

“The construction team and our Fairfax County Park Authority partners made the decision to pause active work to limit disruption that could impact the nesting birds and ensure we maintain compliance with the permit and federal law,” DPWES said in an update on the project page.

DPWES spokesperson Sharon North confirmed that only one nest has been found, but it’s unclear how many birds are using it. At least two hawks have been photographed in the area.

Work will resume after the nesting period, which is expected to last through early June, or once the project team determines that the nest is no longer being used.

Construction on the pond was scheduled to begin on March 3, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik. Some initial setup and tree-clearing activities had gotten underway when workers found the hawk nest.

DPWES says it initiated the project after maintenance workers detected “dam and control structure deficiencies” with the detention pond, which is located near East Blake Lane Park.

In addition to making “necessary repairs” to the dam and replacing the control structure, the project will involve the removal of sediment and an “extensive” tree root structure that has begun to encroach on the dam embankment, according to the county.

With a total budget of $685,000, the project was expected to be finished in November, suggesting that if construction work doesn’t resume until June, it will now continue into 2023.

Once construction restarts, the East Blake Lane Trail will be closed between Vaden Dr. and Route 29 will be closed throughout the project.

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