Long Branch central
Consolidated Project

The Long Branch central tributary will be the focus of intense restoration; construction beginning in 2024

Fairfax County project website

January 10, 2023 - Public Meeting:
There was not too much new at the January 10th public meeting. Construction should begin in 2024 and end in 2032. Monitoring during and after the construction phase will include eDNA sampling. It was gratifying to see that the data sample shared at the meeting confirmed the presence of American eels in Long Branch central. One way or another, at least some of them manage to migrate past the Accotink Lake dam. We still need to continue doing whatever we can to see that a strong public outreach element is incorporated.

Partial eDNA results show presence of American Eels

September & October, 2022 - Project Plans Advance to Specifics:
The stakeholder advisory committee met September 16th and October 7th to review more detailed versions of project plans. We observed some encouraging talk of minimizing floodplain woodland impacts and analyzing actual project results. The USGS is establishing a chain of eight monitoring stations on this tributary to help accomplish that goal of results analysis.

On the other hand, we were disappointed to note there was little talk of any upland projects away from the stream. Nor was there much mention of the public outreach and education element that was much talked about before. We pressed for the public outreach portion of the project to be reinvigorated, with some encouraging talk in response.

Friends of Long Branch Stream Valley offered three steps we should work on:

  1. Advertise the next public meeting so the neighborhoods cannot say they didn't have an opportunity for the County to hear their voice.
  2. After the public meeting, get the Public Outreach & Education group back together to start talking about goals and framework of implementation plans. One such goal would be finding partners for projects outside the streambed.
  3. More of a long term goal of attending and supporting the project within the community, which means possibly attending Civic Association Meetings
There should not be a single property owner or manager in the watershed who is not aware of the project, the motivation for it, and opportunities to contribute.

The meeting host advised the public participants, "You're here to beat us up." We should all think about how we may best accommodate that request.

Project cost is $40 million, to be mostly funded by a Virginia Clean Water Revolving Fund loan to be paid over 20 years. Funding should be secured by the end of 2023, and the projects done over 8 years.

April 11, 2022 - Public Meeting Presents Project Plans for the Next Decade:
The April 11th public meeting presented the list of proposed projects for the next decade. Disappointingly, all of them are in-stream work, plus some stormwater ponds. There is essentially nothing addressing stormwater at the source. The public engagement and education component that was much talked of at the inception was only mentioned as something that should be revived.

During the meeting the contractor Biohabitats, a certified B corporation, did make promising statements about avoiding clearing away trees and maintaining ease of movement for fish.

The points made by the Friends of Accotink Creek in our comments regarding the meeting:

  • Public Outreach and Education needs to be a major component of the project.
  • Property owners should be made aware of financial incentives like the Conservation Assistance Program and stormwater C-PACE.
  • Long Branch presents a unique opportunity to engage students, with five schools located mere yards from the stream.
  • Fish passage and breeding habitat must be maintained.
  • Stream restorations should be beaver-friendly.
  • Large areas of impervious surfaces, Kings Park shopping center in particular, need special attention.
Friends of Accotink Creek comments FULL TEXT

Contribute to the interactive Public Input Map
Comment on individual project components via the Public Comment Portal

Public Meeting Slide Presentation April 11, 2022

February 11, 2021:
The Stormwater Planning Division hosted a public meeting to introduce neighbors to the project concept.
Meeting Presentation

Contribute to the interactive Public Input Map

January 25, 2020:
Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw and staff, along with Friends of Accotink Creek, joined a stream walk organized by Friends of Long Branch Stream Valley. Together, we examined firsthand some of the issues afflicting Long Branch central (and most area streams), the proposed solutions past and present, and how the vision for the consolidated project might embrace a broad vision for enhancing stream health.

We heard the wisdom of friends and neighbors of Long Branch, among them some well-informed environmental professionals. Topics we discussed included:

  • Improving community communications with County and Commonwealth
  • Progress since 2010 on restoration projects on Long Branch
  • Outlet and inlet retrofits and other alternatives to streambed engineering
  • Habitat restoration as an integral part of restoration
  • The use of limited natural channel design only in isolated cases
  • The limits of human power to control streams over time

This walk was prompted by the impending commencement of public meetings and planning to implement Fairfax County's inspiration to focus on restoration of an entire small watershed. This is a departure from the usual approach of addressing opportunities here and there as they may arise. The Accotink Creek TMDL provided impetus for the new approach, by specifically naming Long Branch central as an impaired water.

Long Branch central project list from 2010 Accotink Creek Watershed Plan
Full descriptions of 10-year projects may be found HERE (58 MB, search by project number)
Virtual Tour of Long Branch central

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw shared our walk on Facebook