By Ally Rogers, Photo Editor, Belvoir EagleJanuary 19, 2012
When the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005 became law, Fort Belvoir was one post whose future included major construction and growth. While the garrison was planning for those dramatic changes, it was also looking at the big picture -- everything that was to be affected by the new construction, infrastructure growth, and population influx.
One of the major aspects the post's leadership looked at was the environmental impact of biological resources. From Command Policy letters to the 2001 Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan, there's been a long standing priority of replacing trees at a two for one ratio. In keeping with this tradition, the 2007 Record of Decision capitalized on this policy for all BRAC-related projects, stating "any tree of 4 inches or more in diameter removed to install a re-locatable building would be replaced with two other trees on Fort Belvoir property."
"We made a promise to the community to uphold our precious natural resource of trees through a tree replacement policy, which states that any removed tree over four inches in circumference due to construction, must be replaced by two trees," said Col. Mark Moffatt, Deputy Garrison Commander for BRAC and Transformation. "While the revegetation and landscaping projects are ongoing, we want the community to know we're keeping our word. Thousands of specimen trees and seedlings, from oak to pine, have been planted to date with more to come during the spring planting period."
Currently there are several ongoing projects including post wide planting, stream restoration alongside Surveyor Road, and main post infrastructure landscaping.
According to Brice Bartley, a Natural Resource Specialist for the Fort Belvoir Environmental Natural Resource Division, the largest ongoing project is the Fort Belvoir North Area revegetation. He explained that thousands of seedlings are being planted to offset the tree loss due to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency construction and infrastructure expansions.
"We're working very hard to plant things that would grow here naturally," Bartley said, listing Oak, Dutch Elm, and Downy Serviceberry as the primary cultivars. "This is not only beneficial to wildlife, but to us managing these trees to make sure the trees have the best shot of surviving. The average tree newly planted in the urban landscape only has a lifespan of 7 years due to poor cultural practices and poor initial planting so anything we can do to buy something a little tougher gives real benefits."
Tree tubes have been firmly placed around each seedling planted. Attached externally to a wooden stake, the three-feet tall orange tubes are supposed to create a greenhouse effect, said Bartley.
Essentially the tubes help maintain moisture and warmth for the one-foot tall seedlings. These plastic barriers provide protection from the elements as well as animals, especially deer.
With the protective measures, Bartley estimates that 80 percent will survive at least five years.