Sparrow Pond, which is along the W&OD Trail, is in transition. It’s a man-made pond that the County created in 2000 to help protect Four Mile Run and to support stormwater and habitat goals. The County has plans to restore the pond so that it better filters stormwater and restores habitat for herons, ducks, turtles, frogs and fish.
In the meantime, beavers moved in and have cut down shrubs and trees in the area. And their dam is raising the water level above what is safe for the W&OD Trail and embankment in heavy rain or flooding events, which have become increasingly common in recent years. Unfortunately, Virginia law doesn’t allow communities to move beavers.
Arlington Parks & Recreation has hired a contractor to place a beaver baffle in the pond. Are you baffled by this? Beaver baffles are devices that confuse beavers by using a large plastic tube to create a hidden water exit away from the beavers’ dam to stabilize the water level in the pond. While they don’t hurt the beaver, the new water levels, together with limited tree availability, often results in beavers choosing to move to other areas with better habitat to support their needs.
The County also plans to lower the water in the pond in August to the design levels that are safer for the trail and embankment. Fun fact: When the water is lowered, staff will rescue and release affected animals, fish and amphibians and rescue and replant valuable native plants that are affected. Before being released, staff will test the critters so we don’t spread disease around the County.