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Trees at the corner of Jefferson Manor Park off Telegraph Road (photo by Brandi Bottalico)

Fairfax County is looking to grow a tree planting program that has resulted in 139 trees being planted along the Richmond Highway corridor since last year.

The “Residential Tree Planting Pilot Project” is a county-run program, in partnership with the D.C.-based nonprofit Casey Trees, providing free trees to residents in census tracts with low tree canopy coverage.

The three tracts targeted for the pilot program are all along the Richmond Highway corridor and within the Mount Vernon and Franconia Districts.

Since April 2021, residents living in those areas have planted 139 free trees on their properties. While a bit short of the 150-tree goal, the county has deemed the pilot program enough of a success to make it a “recurring program,” per an update to the Board of Supervisors last month.

The aim of the permanent program is to expand the tree canopy in other census tracts. A less expansive tree canopy often coincides with more “economically vulnerable neighborhoods,” Department of Public Works and Environmental Services spokesperson Sharon North wrote FFXnow in an email.

With that consideration, the program will be targeting census blocks in the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County during its next planting cycle said North.

Money for the program will come out of the county’s Tree Preservation and Planting Fund and will be managed by a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The fund’s current balance is $208,000, North said. Any additional funding recommendations will go to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors as part of its annual budget process.

Nearby localities like Arlington have similar programs to increase tree canopy in neighborhoods where it’s insufficient, which contributes to heat and temperature increases.

Back in 2021, Fairfax County staff identified 4,000 single-family and multi-family addresses within the three census tracts that would benefit from increased tree canopy.

Casey Trees devised a marketing campaign that sent out letters and greeting cards advertising the availability of free trees to those residents, who ultimately planted 139 trees.

That’s about a 3.5% success rate — higher than the industry average of 2%.

A majority of the trees planted were medium to large, including shingle oaks, river birches, hackberry trees, and honeylocust ‘shademasters.’

“Larger trees provide more shading, cooling, stormwater control, and related benefits over their smaller counterparts,” Casey Trees said in a report. “Not just to the property where the tree is planted but also to the neighborhood at large.”

The pilot program cost the county about $60,000, approximately $11,000 in marketing materials and close to $49,000 for the actual trees. It cost $350 per planted tree.

The report also provided a few recommendations to help grow the program.

Proposals included increasing the number of trees provided to one particular lot from three to five, noting that “residents often requested more,” as well as sending out arborists for site visits to increase education and displaying “free tree” yard signs in eligible neighborhoods.

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Fairfax County Fire and Rescue ambulance

A man died after possibly being electrocuted while trimming tree branches in the Fairfax area near George Mason University this morning (Friday), Fairfax County Police Department wrote in a tweet.

The man was found suspended by a rope about 25 feet up in the tree when units from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department arrived around 8:30 a.m., the department reported.

Technical rescue crews were able to free the man and brought him to the ground. However, he sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported to a hospital, where he later died.

Police said officrs are now on the scene in the 4600 block of Luxberry Drive and believe the man was electrocuted. Detectives are en route to conduct a death investigation.

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Morning Notes

A woodpecker perches on a tree branch (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Proposes Limiting Phone and Social Media Use — “Proposed updates to school policies in Fairfax County Public Schools would ban students from using social media sites for non-academic purposes during school hours and define when cellphones can be used during the school day.” The phone policy has already been implemented at Herndon middle and high schools. [WTOP]

Falls Church Development Under Construction — Developer Insight Property Group will break ground today (Friday) on its 2.7-acre Broad and Washington project, which has been in the works since 2015. The mixed-use development will eventually include a 50,000-square-foot Whole Foods, 339 residential units, space for the theater nonprofit Creative Cauldron, a public plaza, and ground-floor retail. [Falls Church News-Press]

Police Officer Saves Glued Snake — “This little snake is alive and free tonight thanks to @FairfaxCountyPD’s Animal Protection Police Officer McLemore! The snake was caught in a glue trap, and it took time, care, and mineral oil to free him. Thank you for rescuing this little guy!” [Fairfax Animals/Twitter]

Metro Police to Increase Presence — “The Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) says they are increasing their visibility on trains, buses, and in stations to help deter crime…Crime has not spiked on Metro recently, but it certainly has not dropped at the same proportion that ridership has.” [DCist]

Vienna Plants Tree for Arbor Day — “Help Vienna celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day by planting a tree with us tomorrow, Friday, April 29! We’ll plant a white Dogwood with the help of local Girl Scout Troops 1489, 50056, and 50157. The event starts at 5 p.m. next to the Vienna Community Center front entrance.” [Vienna Happenings]

Meeting Planned on Mount Vernon RECenter Project — The Fairfax County Park Authority will update the public at a meeting on Wednesday (May 4) on its expansion plan, which will require a two-year closure starting early 2023. Staff will explain the project schedule, including the timing of the recently approved facility closure due to supply chain issues and key infrastructure system failures. [FCPA]

Tornados Becoming More of a Risk in D.C. Area — “While it has been 20 years since the La Plata disaster, its occurrence is a reminder that the D.C. region is vulnerable to devastating whirlwinds on par with those of famed tornado alleys in the Great Plains and Deep South. The D.C. region also sees much more frequent tornadoes of lesser strength.” [The Washington Post]

Consulting Firm Workers Help Clean Reston — “As part of Earth Day last week, employees from Virtual, Inc. picked up trash and helped to beautify the area surrounding their offices at 11130 Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston…Virtual is a professional services firm that works with associations and technology standards groups that are forming, growing and changing, according [to CEO Andy] Freed.” [Patch]

Registration Open for Hunter Mill Bicycle Tour — “Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting the 2nd annual Tour de Hunter Mill on Saturday, May 14, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event, including a five-mile family route and a 18-mile route, begins in the Town of Vienna at the Town Green, located at 144 Maple Ave. East.” [Hunter Mill District Office]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 62 and low of 38. Sunrise at 6:14 am and sunset at 8:01 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A project to widen the Herndon Parkway has taken away trees — to the dismay of some community members.

Crews with heavy machinery are still surrounding Haley M. Smith Park, located at the intersection with Van Buren Street, replacing a corridor of trees once along the parkway.

“I want to cry when I drive through that intersection,” one Herndon resident wrote last week on Nextdoor. “There had to be a better way.”

Work on the year-long project began last month. It will widen travel lanes to 11 feet, install on- and off-road bicycle lanes in each direction, and make other modifications intended to improve the overall pedestrian experience in the area.

There are no plans to replant the trees at this time, Herndon spokesperson Anne Curtis said in an email.

The Nextdoor commenter wasn’t the only one dissatisfied. Several people, including children, have noticed the change.

“It’s incredibly sad to see decades old trees taken down within hours,” another person wrote.

Others countered that the project will bring upgrades.

The $5.3 million project also calls for stormwater management improvements, utility relocations, and the addition of a turning lane, part of a broader effort to transform the area for the future opening of the Herndon Metro station.

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Morning Notes

Office buildings on Arlington Boulevard near Seven Corners (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 9 a.m.) County Board Chair Tests Positive for Covid — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay announced last night (Monday) that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He reported experiencing “minor symptoms which are uncomfortable but manageable” and is currently working from home and quarantining. [Jeff McKay/Twitter]

Johnny Depp Fans Wait at Courthouse — “Fans who stood outside the main entrance of the Fairfax County Courthouse with the hopes of glimpsing actor Johnny Depp as he appeared for the first day of his defamation trial were disappointed. The ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star skipped the crowds and entered the courthouse through another door.” [Patch]

Sen. Mark Warner Visits for Affordable Housing Talk — “Every community needs access to affordable housing. Glad to deliver funding to Fairfax County today to create up to 250 affordable housing units and talk to local leaders about how we can further support their initiatives at a federal level.” [Mark Warner/Twitter]

Trees Cut Down for Mount Vernon Bicycle Trail Project — “Construction to improve and link the Mount Vernon Bike Trail along the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway is in its early stages and to clear the way, a significant number of trees have been cut down along the road. According to the project team, there is no plan to replant additional trees when the project is completed, a county spokesperson said.” [The Connection]

Tysons Real Estate Leaders Explore Nats Sale — The Lerner family, which is behind the Tysons II development master plan, has hired an investment bank to explore potential investment partners for the Washington Nationals, The Washington Post reported. Mark Lerner, the baseball club’s managing principal owner, called the move “exploratory” with “no set timetable or expectation of a specific outcome.” [Patch]

County Unemployment Rate Declines — “Inflation may be eating away at their earnings, but a larger share of Fairfax County residents had jobs in February than a month before, according to new federal data…The county’s unemployment rate for the shortest month of the year stood at 2.5 percent, down from 2.9 percent a month before.” [Sun Gazette]

Local LGBTQ+ Advocates Worried About New Law — “Under a new law, Virginia school districts must notify parents whenever instructional materials include sexually explicit content and must provide parents alternative, non-explicit materials if requested…FCPS Pride said the bill ‘creates an adversarial relationship between teachers and parents or guardians.'” [The Washington Post]

Public Safety Workers Honored in Reston — “Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce officials on March 31 honored police, fire-and-rescue and Sheriff’s Office employees for their outstanding acts of public protection. More than 600 people attended the 44th annual Fairfax County Valor Awards, held at the Hyatt Regency Reston.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Herndon Plans Town-Wide Clean-Up — “The annual spring clean-up, an opportunity for residents to place large or bulky items curbside for pickup, takes place April 27-29. Pickup is on your trash day only.” [Town of Herndon]

It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 53. Sunrise at 6:37 am and sunset at 7:44 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Construction cranes above the Tysons skyline (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Suspect in Attacks on Unhoused People Previously Jailed in Fairfax County — “Gerald Brevard III, 30, had been in and out of jail in D.C., Virginia and Maryland on varying charges including assaulting a police officer and shoplifting, court records show. Most recently he served several months in Fairfax County jail after he was arrested on an abduction charge that was reduced to misdemeanor assault in a plea agreement.” [The Washington Post]

Man Arrested for Herndon Sexual Assault — “Andy Josue Calix Mejia, 23, of Sterling was arrested for sexually assaulting a juvenile last year in the Town of Herndon, according police…The incident happened March 25, 2021, in the 500 block of Florida Avenue.” [Patch]

Part of Springfield Town Center for Sale — Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust disclosed in an earnings release Monday (March 14) that it is selling a hotel development parcel at Springfield Town Center for $2.5 million. Roughly 3 million square feet of new development are planned at the 78-acre mall campus, which will host the D.C. area’s first LEGO Discovery Center next year. [Washington Business Journal]

Local Kid Designs App to Improve Virtual Learning — “Kingsley Thach, a third-grader at Willow Springs Elementary off Braddock Road in western Fairfax, said the app, inspired by the pandemic and launched in January, helps to bridge the communication gap between students, teachers and parents.” [Inside NoVA]

Scottish Police Tour FCPD Facilities — “Police officials from Scotland visited the Fairfax County Police Department last week to tour the department’s facilities and learn the latest policing techniques and strategies from the largest jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.” [Patch]

Annandale Karaoke Bar Plans Opening — “Glam Karaoke could have a soft opening as early as this Friday, reports manager Chris Cho. It’s located in the former Kmart auto shop on 6369 John Marr Drive in what’s now called the East Gate Shopping Center.” [Annandale Today]

Vienna Prepares to Replace Invasive Trees — “The view will soon change along the Nutley Street median. Work is expected to begin next week to replace invasive Callery pear trees with native species. To learn more about the project, click here.” [Town of Vienna/Facebook]

McLean High School Runners Win State Titles — “In his final attempt to win the boys 1,000-meter race at the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 indoor track and field state championships, the McLean High School senior closed the deal. Running with a sore right hip, [Xavier] Jemison won in a personal-best time of 2:26.45 seconds, with that his race strategy working as planned.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

It’s Wednesday — Rain overnight. High of 66 and low of 45. Sunrise at 7:20 a.m. and sunset at 7:18 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A Shell gas station and car wash on Franconia Road in Rose Hill is going to be replaced with a 7-Eleven, per permit applications (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

Expanded DMV Service Starts Today — “The Virginia DMV will offer both appointments and walk-in service Monday through Friday at all 75 locations starting Wednesday, March 2, Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller said in a news release. Walk-in service will still be an option at some offices on Saturdays.” [WTOP]

Local Students Learn About Russia-Ukraine Conflict — A political science and current affairs class at Langley High School has turned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into a central topic of discussion. Teacher David Kuhn says his students, some of whom have lived in Russia, have shared “perspectives…beyond what their [years] would indicate.” [WUSA9]

Worker Rescued from Tree in Chantilly — For the second time in as many weeks, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units helped free a person caught in a tree. A worker stuck 20-30 feet up a tree in the 4300 block of Warner Lane was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries yesterday afternoon (Tuesday). [FCFRD/Twitter]

McLean Community Center Encourages Masks — “Per current metrics, Fairfax County’s COVID-19 Community Level is low, and masks are now optional in county facilities. While masks are no longer required, MCC highly recommends that patrons continue to use masks while in its facilities to protect those too young or unable to be vaccinated in our communities.” [MCC]

Reston Condo Fire Displaces One — The condominium fire in the 1400 block of Northgate Square that ended in a cat’s death displaced one resident and caused an estimated $93,750 in property damages. Investigators say the fire started accidentally in a bedroom when “unattended incenses” burned “too close to ordinary combustibles.” [FCFRD]

Reston Tech Company Lands Millions in Funding — “GridPoint, a building energy management and optimization technology that decarbonizes commercial buildings, announced Tuesday that it has closed a $75 million investment round. Goldman Sachs Asset Management led the round, with Shell Ventures, another veteran investor in GridPoint, also participating.” [Commercial Observer]

Reston Association Election Begins — “Voting is now open for members of Reston Association to cast their ballots for the 2022 Board of Directors’ election. Ballots are due by April 1 at 5 PM. Members of RA, both property owners & renters can cast their vote in the election.” [RA/Twitter]

Public Meeting on McLean Central Park Tonight — The Fairfax County Park Authority will present a revised development concept for the park by Dolley Madison Library with a virtual meeting at 7 p.m. An initial concept included an amphitheater and dog park but drew some skepticism from community groups. [Patch]

It’s Wednesday — Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 61 and a low around 44. Sunrise will be at 6:38 a.m. and sunset at 6:03 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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