Long Branch North Walk

25 January 2008: Walked upstream from the mouth of Long Branch north in Eakin Community Park to its last upstream outlet at Stonewall Street in Vienna.

From its mouth, Long Branch north is unmodified as far as the northern edge of Eakin Park. Buffer is good. The banks here, and along the whole length of the stream, are steeply cut by erosion.

From the north edge of Eakin Park to Rt. 50, buffer narrows and often disappears. Homes with rock walls and lawns along the banks are common. Invasive English ivy and pachysandra are prevalent. One home has a backyard earthmoving project underway, with no silt fence.

Just below Rt. 50, there is a streamside private pond large enough to be clearly marked on road maps. Its banks are mowed. The pond seems to have no direct outlet to the stream. The property belongs to Copeland Pond community.

Immediately above Rt. 50, there is a wooded area, property of Sycamore Retreat community. Here Long Branch north is joined by an eastern tributary draining the Merrifield area. This is the only tributary significant enough to have its own RPA (Resource Protection Area), but it does not seem to be named. Below Prosperity Ave, this tributary flows through the wooded area. Above Prosperity Ave, it is confined to about 300 yards of concrete channels between office and industrial parks back to its uppermost storm drain outlets. There is a fair amount of buffer, at least along one side or the other here, but it may be doomed, as there is surveyor's tape on many branches.. Fairfax County Water Authority headquarters are along this tributary.

Beyond the wooded area just above Rt. 50, the main stem of Long Branch north flows between single-family houses. Buffer is moderate, but some houses have lawns up to the bank. Thickets of invasive multiflora rose are prevalent here and continue up to the source. Invasive garlic mustard, porcelainberry, and mile-a-minute are also present.

Above Lee Hwy to I-66, the stream is bordered on the east by office parks and on the west by townhouses. Buffer is moderate, but one homeowners' association has mowed down to the bank.

Above I-66, the streambed is confined between single-family houses. The channel is narrow and buffer is limited. Some lawns extend to the banks.

Above Cottage St, Long Branch north is even more confined. Where lawns do not reach the banks, the stream is tree-lined, rather than buffered. There are sections with gabion rock walls on both banks. The Dunn Loring Swim Club has a parking lot which drains directly to the stream on the west bank and lawn mowed down to the east bank.

The source of Long Branch north may be said to be the storm drain outlet at Stonewall Dr. There is about 100 yards of concrete Channel just below that.

Erosion is a clear concern along all of Long Branch north. Many homeowners have responded with rock walls. Perhaps there is opportunity to persuade others to try planting buffer.

Yet, it is possible to sympathize somewhat with homeowners who have mowed down to the banks, given the wretched thickets of invasive multiflora rose along so much of this stream. Leaf dumping in or along the stream also seems to be a common practice.

Trash along Long Branch north is moderate, except near Lee Hwy, where it is more severe.

Photos at shutterfly.com

Share your own observations/comments on Long Branch north or other sections of the Accotink Creek watershed.

1 Northwestern Watershed
2 Daniels Run
3 Hunters Branch
4 Bear Branch
5 Long Branch North
6 Main Stem - Pickett Rd downstream to Prosperity Ave
7 Main Stem - Prosperity Ave to Little River Turnpike
8 Crook Branch
9 Coon Branch
10 Turkey Run
11 Long Branch Central
12 Wakefield Park (Main Stem - Little River Turnpike to Braddock Road)
13 Lake Accotink Park (Main Stem - Braddock Road to Old Keene Mill Road )
14 Main Stem - Old Keene Mill Road to Ft. Belvoir Engineering Proving Ground
15 Main Stem - Ft Belvoir Engineering Proving Ground
16 Main Stem - Ft Belvoir Engineering Proving Ground to Telegraph Road
17 Long Branch South
18 Main Stem - Telegraph Road to Potomac River
19 Flag Run
20 Calamo Branch
21 Field Lark Branch
22 Mason Run
23 Kernan Run
24 Hatmark Branch