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December's Acorn has dropped!

Dear Friends,

The end-of-year issue of the Earth Sangha’s newsletter, the Acorn, should soon find its way into your regular mailbox. We mailed it today. (Of course, you can also read it online.)

If you’re not on the Acorn’s mailing list and you would like to be, just email me at We’ll mail you the current issue and put you on the list for subsequent ones.

This issue includes:

Our year at the Marie Butler Leven Preserve, in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Matt wrote this, and he holds nothing back. Those who worked with us at the Preserve will thrill to the memory of bygone garlic-mustard pulls, or perhaps rekindle their pride in an especially picturesque heap of invasive slash. Those who were not able to make it out will find rich inspiration here for 2016. Making memories out of invasives control: our mission when it comes to local parks!

Lisa’s reflections on the pursuit of seeds for our local Wild Plant Nursery.

Lisa recounts her close encounters of the botanical kind, and finds the wild roots of our battered suburban landscape.

An important development regarding a certain greenhouse.

I’ll let the newsletter speak for itself — no need to announce the announcement!

And two important objectives for the new year — ideas that we hope you will support:

First, we hope to expand the Tree Bank Forest-Credit program. The Tree Bank works along part of the Dominican Republic / Haiti border, on the Dominican side, to conserve native forest and improve small-holder farm incomes. See the Tree Bank page of our website for more details.

Forest Credit offers low-cost lines of credit to small-holders in exchange for conservation easements on their forests. This is the most cost-effective way that we have found thus far to practice conservation in the Tree Bank project region.

We think that this approach could reach far beyond our current project area. Hundreds of millions of poor, small-holder farmers are eking out livings in forested or formerly forested areas of the tropics. Many of these places — and many of those people — might benefit from the tool that we are trying to create.

But one step at a time! What we have is good, but it could be a lot better. We need to make it bigger, and we need to improve our management of the program — both its finances and its ecology. We’re hoping that you’ll help us do that, and make a contribution to the program before the end of the year.

Second, in the DC area, we are planning a “type site” library for conservation. During the past year or so, Matt has been working with Fritz Flohr-Reynolds, a very talented amateur botanist, to collect botanical field data, which Matt then loaded into an ArcGIS database.

After a great deal of profanity-laced fiddling, Matt is now sufficiently confident of the results to put them to use. We are planning to launch a plant-species inventory of some of the region’s “most natural” natural areas, in consultation with the same local land managers and botanists who have been helping us develop the seed-collection effort for our Wild Plant Nursery.

The objective is not just to learn more about these well-preserved natural areas, but to improve the restoration of hundreds of degraded areas that might once have contained similar plant communities. Knowing more about the least disturbed sites will help improve management of degraded sites with similar characteristics.

Eventually, we hope to create a library of these “type sites,” which could then be used to model many restoration projects, and to do other kinds of ecological research. We plan to make the library available to any interested person or institution. In addition to natural-areas management, we think that the library could have important applications in schools, whether for individual study or as part of a general curriculum.

But again, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves! We have a great deal to do just to begin collecting our first full datasets. Next year, we hope to produce two such sets, in at least a preliminary form, for two natural areas in northern Virginia. If you’re interested in our work in the DC area, we hope that you’ll want to help us launch this new enterprise!

A match for your gift:

Two of very generous donors have pledged to match the first $50 of every donation that the Sangha receives, through January 15! We hope that you’ll take advantage of the extra leveraging power that your year-end gift will confer. (Let me know if the term “leveraging” resonated with you. It’s supposed to suggest that I know a lot about money and that you should therefore feel comfortable about routing some funds in our direction.) And please don’t forget: to claim a 2015 tax deduction for your gift, you must donate before year-end!

Thanks for reading my note, and, as always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments about our work.

— Chris Bright, President 703-764-4830

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Banner: Late October in a mixed stand of hickories, oaks, and American beech at Fountainhead Regional Park, on the northern shore of the Occoquan River, in Fairfax County, Virginia. Photo by Chris Bright. 

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