About the Basin, August 25, 2017
Just down the river from Alexandria, Va., exists 485 acres of marsh, swamp forest and flood plain known as Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. It is an oasis amidst the concrete jungle. It is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway managed by the National Park Service. The Preserve has an impressive diversity of flora and fauna, including more than 270 species of birds and 300 species of plants.
Many runners, walkers, and bikers enjoy the Mount Vernon Trail, a 17-mile paved path, that winds through the marsh. The Haul Road Trail is short at .75 miles, but provides a look at each type of habitat in Dyke Marsh.
Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are the primary activities at Dyke Marsh. They allow visitors a more intimate view of the river and the wildlife that calls the area home. Rent a boat at the marina next door, then paddle south along the shore for the short trip to the marsh.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of restoring the marsh that is currently eroding at an average of 6 to 7.8 feet per year. Restoration efforts, which include planting native aquatic vegetation, are scheduled to be completed by 2019.
An active volunteer group, Friends of Dyke Marsh, holds a variety of events open to the public, including a bird walk lead by expert birders each Sunday at 8:00am, plus lectures, educational events, and more. Some upcoming events include a talk on September 13 on Wetland Plants by Dr. Nancy Rybicki, a U.S. Geological Survey Aquatic Biologist and a discussion on November 15th about the health of Hunting Creek and area streams by Dr. Kim Mutsert of the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University. The volunteer group also actively works to restore the marsh by planting trees and other activities.