County Board Honors This Year’s Park Volunteers and Notable Trees

Published on May 18, 2022

Mother Nature is smiling! Arlington County recognized five individuals who volunteer at Bon Air Park as recipients of the 2021 Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award and highlighted its 2022 Notable Trees—both which honor the people and natural resources that preserve Arlington’s green spaces—during the Arlington County Board’s recessed meeting on May 17.

Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award

With incredible plants and flower species, Arlington’s Bon Air Park is a well-known spot for photo shoots and weddings. Master Gardeners Joe Kelly, Carolyn Vincent, Dina Lehmann, Karen Smith and Tom Golojuch, who steward Bon Air Park’s Quarry Shade and Sunny Demonstration Gardens, were presented with the 2021 Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award for their dedication and support of Bon Air Park as well as their commitment to horticulture education.

“One of the crown jewels of the Arlington parks system, Bon Air Park is a beautiful respite for our residents to enjoy our County’s natural beauty. The Master Gardeners at Bon Air’s Demonstration Gardens have worked tirelessly since 1988 to preserve and enhance Bon Air and make it the destination it is today,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “Even better, their work inspires us all to create beauty in nature in our own spaces.”

Bon Air Park’s Demonstration Gardens serve as a teaching platform, promoting best management practices and ideas on selection of plants that are most suitable for our area. The 2021 Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award recipients have dedicated thousands of hours of work and talent to these gardens while leading volunteers in removing invasive plants that are damaging to our natural spaces and adding native plants that contribute to Arlington's commitment to environmental sustainability. In 2021 alone, these volunteers held a total of 58 work parties totaling more than 200 hours maintaining these spaces.

The Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award is given annually by the Arlington Parks and Recreation Commission to honor outstanding volunteer efforts in support of the health, sustainability and functioning of Arlington’s parks. It pays tribute to lifelong park volunteer William “Bill” Thomas and serves to honor and encourage park volunteerism in the County. Learn more about the Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award.

2022 Notable Trees

Arlington has more than 755,000 trees of at least 122 species that each year provide $1 million in environmental benefits to the County through pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings and retainment of stormwater runoff. Arlington’s trees are valued at $1.41 billion. This year, 12 of these trees will be designated as Notable Trees by the Arlington County Board. 

“We all know that Arlington loves its trees. These Notable Trees were brought forward by the community,” said Cristol. “It’s great that our community recognizes the value of trees. These 12 trees are well-loved and contribute to the health of our Arlington tree canopy and, ultimately, the health of our community.”

Since 1987, residents in Arlington County have been nominating local trees for the Notable Tree designation based on a variety of criteria, including size, age, species or historical or community significance. More than 350 trees have been recognized overall. Tree Steward John Wingard has been coordinating this program since 2009, with many of the trees being initially identified by him.

Arlington is currently developing a Forestry and Natural Resources Plan that will serve as the guiding document for the County’s management practices related to trees, plants, wildlife and more. This project will include a series of community engagement opportunities and draft updates. Learn more about the plan and get involved.

2021-2022 Notable Trees Winners  

Sugar Maple, 1304 N Meade St.

Himalayan Pine, 2915 N Harrison St.

Hackberry, 3500 Wilson Blvd.

Redbud, 430 N Kenmore St.

Southern Magnolia, 6322 11th Rd. N

White Pine, 4065 22nd St. N

White Oak, 4435 N Pershing Dr.

Southern Red Oak, 5108 23rd Rd. N

Southern Red Oak, 430 N Norwood St.

Water Oak, 3317 6th St. S

Pin Oak, 430 N Kenmore St.

Willow Oak, Fort Myer Base near Commissary 

Ways to Help Arlington’s Trees 

Trees provide important value by filtering air and water to improve our health, serving as wildlife habitats, storing carbon dioxide to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, and beautifying our communities. The Notable Tree designation is just one of several programs Arlington has developed to support trees as a key natural resource.

Arlington residents can help the County’s trees thrive during dry weather periods through the County’s Adopt-a-Tree program. Trees can be adopted wherever there is access to water, such as street trees in front of homes, to help keep them healthy and strong and to grow Arlington’s tree canopy. Community members can also help save the County’s trees through Remove Invasive Plant programs that eliminate English Ivy and other invasive plant species that are harmful to our trees. 

Arlington’s goal is to plant as many trees as appropriate on public land and to encourage the community to plant more trees on private land. This year’s Notable Trees are all located on private properties. The Notable Tree designation does not give Arlington County any authority over trees on private property as only the Specimen Tree program protects trees in perpetuity. However, Notable Trees may be included in future civic association and neighborhood walking tours. 

Feelings of pride and conservation are what the County wants to encourage and promote with its many tree programs. To learn more about Arlington County’s tree programs or to nominate a Notable Tree, visit environment.arlingtonva.us/trees. In addition, consider becoming a Tree Steward. All it takes is a love of trees and a desire to get involved. 

Watch the video segment of the Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award winners and Notable Trees recognition.

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