News

Entry Thumbnail

Birding in the Basin

greenheronAs this year’s northern bird migration comes to a close, it’s a great time to get outside and discover our avian friends. Although at times it is hard to believe that there are other birds besides the ubiquitous pigeons and Canadian geese in the Potomac River basin, in fact there is a wide variety of beautiful bird species throughout the area.

Right outside of the District and smack dab in the middle of the Potomac River is Theodore Roosevelt Island. In this oasis outside the city you will see species that are commonly found in swampy and marshy areas, such as green herons and wood ducks. Bald eagles have also been known to nest on the island. For those fans of the movie “The Big Year”, the National Park Service provides a brochure to keep track of your finds.

The Audubon Society of Central Maryland maintains two large wildlife sanctuaries in eastern Frederick County, Maryland. The organization holds monthly hikes throughout the year or you can explore the flora and fauna on your own. The Society’s next walk is scheduled for June 18 and is entitled “Summer Birds”.

At an unexpected haven in the southeast area of Fairfax County, Va., known as Huntley Meadows Park, you will find such striking birds as Eastern Bluebirds, Common Yellowthroats, and the Northern Flicker. The land, which was once owned by Mr. George Mason IV, is now a 1,500 acre park with trails and watch towers for you bird-watching pleasure. This park is known for being a prime birdwatching location. There is a Monday Morning Birdwalk that has been held, rain or shine, for the past 30 years.

With as many as 430 bird species in the area, there are plenty of opportunities for birding. Other local areas known for excellent birding include the Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland, Yankauer Nature Preserve along the Potomac River in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Lorton, Virginia.

Can’t get out to see birds this weekend? Check out our write-up on bird cameras in the Potomac River basin.

Entry Thumbnail

Staying Safe on the Potomac

Many ICPRB staff spend as much time as we can on the water, and we encourage you to do the same through maps and information that helps you to enjoy our precious resource. A recent rash of drownings and accidents along the river serves as an unfortunate reminder on the importance of safety during water recreation. We have put together some tips on staying safe while cooling down in the Potomac River.paddlersinthemarsh-Large

Prepare for on-water activities by checking the weather and water levels just before venturing out. Call the National Weather Service at (703) 996-2200, check them out online, or download one of the many apps that will provide real-time data on gauge height, discharge, and temperature. Let a family member or friend know your plans, where you will be, and when you expect to be back. Always wear a life vest. And finally, never go out on the river alone.

Whether you are out with your reel, kayak, or inner tube, remembering these simple tips will help ensure a safe and fun day on the river. Enjoy!

Entry Thumbnail

The Potomac Fishing Report

Stocked trout streams in the Shenandoah basin are fishable, with the mountain streams full and clearing. The mainstem is still muddy according to reports. The North Branch Potomac also is stained, but closer to an average flow.

In the upper Potomac, water temperatures are in the mid 70s, with some stained water. The river levels are keeping fish spread out and anglers should target deeper areas with eddies, or seems where stained and clearer water meet. Good reports have come from the area between Lander and Knoxville. Mayfly hatches have been occurring, and fly anglers will be trying to match the hatch.

In the metropolitan Potomac, water is stained and about 78 degrees. Reports of largemouth bass at the Kennedy Center wall, the wall in Washington Channel, and bridge pilings are good bets. Catfish are spawning and can also be taken at bridge pilings.

Further downstream, anglers are having luck in the grass beds at the mouths of tidal creeks and on the mainstem. Largemouth bass fishing has been productive, and the spawning catfish are common.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are chumming for striped bass, as well as the channel edges around St. George’s Island. Reports of some croaker and a few flatfish round out the catch. Crabbing continues to improve with the warming water.

Entry Thumbnail

Beaching Potomac

Looking to dip your toes in the sand this weekend but can’t stomach the thought of sitting in the Bay Bridge traffic with 500,000 of your closest friends? Switch up your waterfront routine by enjoying one of the many beach-esque options along the Potomac River instead. Listed below are a few of the possibilities along our beautiful Nation’s River.

Aquia Landing Park

Aquia Landing Park

You will find Colonial Beach, Va. Just a quick 1.5 hour drive south of the District. The town is not only an historical gem (don’t you want to visit the birthplace of George Washington?!), but the entire city is spanned by a calm, sandy beach.

Just north of Accokeek Creek lies Aquia Landing Park in Stafford, Va. This family-friendly park features fishing, picnic pavilions, and even sand volleyball courts. It is a quiet beach that is excellent for bird-watching and collecting seashells.

Another sandy spot seeped in American history is the Point Lookout State Park in Scotland, Md. Located at the mouth of the Potomac River, this park held more than 50,000 Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Boasting both a museum and a nature center, the park can fill up fast on the weekends so make sure to get there early!

The following beaches are not along the Potomac River but are on this side of this Bay. Flag Ponds Nature Park in Calvert County, Md. is an ideal area for kids of all ages to snag fossils from the Miocene era right out of the sand. Don’t forget your digging gear! A small and little-known beach, Beverly Triton Beach Park, is located outside of Edgewater, Md. It is a great place for both you and your dog to cool off during the sizzling summer heat.

Make sure to tag ICPRB when you are out enjoying the many amenities that the Potomac watershed has to offer!


Photo Credit: Aquia Landing Park by Instragrammer @buddysecor

Entry Thumbnail

Water Supply Outlook – June, 2016

After the majority of the Mid-Atlantic area received higher-than-average rainfall during the month of May, there is a below normal probability of releases from the Washington metropolitan area reservoirs for the upcoming season. Read more in the Water Supply Outlook.

Entry Thumbnail

Quarterly Business Meeting Announcement

The ICPRB quarterly business meeting on June 6 and 7 will be held in Colonial Beach, Virginia. Hosted by theBusiness Meeting Potomac River Fisheries Commission, the Monday portion of the meeting will focus on groundwater resources in Virginia’s coastal plain. Groundwater is the primary drinking water source, and the Commonwealth is working to quantify the resource, which is under increasing demand. The following day includes the quarterly ICPRB business meeting, with reviews of ongoing projects. The meeting is open to the public, but space is limited. Please RSVP if you would like to attend.

Entry Thumbnail

Residential Oil Tanks: What you Need to Know

Image courtesy of David Bonta on Flickr.

Image courtesy of David Bonta on Flickr.

Without proper care, old and rusted heating oil tanks can cause costly leaks and spills. Underground tanks are especially problematic because they can leak for years without notice. Large toxic spills may get all the media-fueled attention, but these silent, slow leaks add up to one major environmental problem for the Potomac River basin and its residents. Read more…

Entry Thumbnail

April Water Supply Outlook Available

Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin provides a monthly Water Supply Outlook and Status from April to October of each year. Based on careful data analyses, the report provides information on the possibility of a water release from local reservoirs. Read the April Report… 

Entry Thumbnail

Eagles, Ospreys, and Falcons…oh my!

It’s finally spring. Along with cherry blossoms and warmer weather, this time of year brings new wildlife young. We are lucky to live in an area with an abundance of these new little creatures along the Potomac river and its surrounding areas. We are even more lucky to have great organizations that set up cameras to watch the little ones grow.

The National Arboretum Eagle Cam features a pair of Bald Eagles, known as “Mr. President” and “The First Lady,” perched in a Tulip Poplar tree in the National Arboretum. They have two eaglets that were born in mid-March. The American Eagle Foundation is currently taking name suggestions for the new little birds. 

The Chesapeake Conservancy has two bird cameras. The Osprey camera features “Tom” and “Audrey” who will be making a family in their cozy nest for the second year in a row. “Boh” and “Barb,” in the Peregine Falcon camera, have already laid four eggs.  

The Earth Conservation Corps has their eyes trained on “Liberty” and “Justice,” a pair of Bald Eagles who have made their home in SE Washington, DC for the past eleven years.

The Bald Eagle cam on the grounds of the US Fish and Wildlife National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia has been active for over a decade. You can watch “Bell” and “Ben” feed their eaglets while looking over the NCTC campus.

Bonus cams! Watch the American Shad on the Shad Cam run by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Although not active yet, these native fish should be making their way up the river soon. Done with wildlife? Check out this live view of the Southwest DC Waterfront where construction of the $2 billion project known as The Wharf is underway.

Below, Jim Cummins of ICPRB explains why eaglet eggs hatch this time of year: