The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) is part of a region-wide effort to honor history and celebrate the progress made restoring the Anacostia River and its watershed.
2018 is the Year of the Anacostia (YOTA), a campaign by the Anacostia Waterfront Trust, the National Park Service, the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership (AWRP), and numerous private sector and community organizations. In addition to marking the 100 year anniversary of the creation of Anacostia Park by U.S. Congress, YOTA is a time for the region to recognize how local investments and major efforts are restoring the Anacostia.
At its April meeting, the COG Board of Directors was briefed by Adam Ortiz, AWRP Chairman and Prince George’s County Department of Environment Director, on the AWRP's new regional public outreach campaign, #ComeToTheRiver. The campaign uses social media, video, events, and more to tell the story of the Anacostia River’s improved water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and opportunities for recreation, leisure, and adventure. The AWRP is a collaboration of local, state, and federal agencies, environmental organizations, and private citizens, and is led by COG.
“For a long time we've known that the river has been a barrier in our community and in our region…that’s not the story anymore,” Ortiz told the board. “Because of the efforts that COG has supported, and because all of our regional partners have stepped up, the river is truly a remarkable and beautiful place.”
Beyond YOTA, COG’s involvement with Anacostia restoration activities spans decades, providing technical services and expertise to its members in the watershed. COG helps track progress toward the region’s Anacostia restoration goals—which include reducing pollution, protecting and restoring ecosystems, increasing wetlands, expanding forest cover, and increasing citizen involvement in restoration activities.
A new Restoration Dashboard built by COG illustrates the good work done by the District of Columbia, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and other AWRP members in meeting these goals, as well as the work left to be done. COG staff are heavily involved in ‘boots on the ground’ work in the watershed, such as monitoring fish and insect populations, reducing trash, planting trees, and coordinating volunteer groups.
COG’s Restoration Dashboard illustrates accomplishments in the watershed, such as improvements in health of the fish population.
On behalf of the AWRP, COG built a variety of interactive tools to help residents #ComeToTheRiver. On Anacostia.net, visitors can plan kayaking, canoeing, biking, or hiking routes in the watershed using 360-degree maps of the river and the Anacostia Tributary Trail System. New maps also identify prime fishing locations, river access points, and highlight must-visit destinations.
The COG Board ended its meeting by passing a resolution in support of the Year of the Anacostia, acknowledging the “regional value of the natural assets, infrastructure, investment, and the historic significance of the Anacostia River watershed.”
“Whatever river we touch, wherever we are in the region, we just all have to continue to recommit ourselves, rededicate ourselves to the environment,” said Allison Silberberg, COG Board Member and City of Alexandria Mayor. “Not only is it in our economic best interest, but it is also the right thing to do.”
#ComeToTheRiver during the Year of the Anacostia
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