Four Mile Run Stream Restoration


Lower Four Mile Run in south Arlington (south of 395 to the Potomac), Arlington, VA 22206,    View Map

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Four Mile Run Stream Restoration


Lower Four Mile Run in south Arlington (south of 395 to the Potomac).



About the Project


The Four Mile Run Restoration project has received three awards.

  • The Virginia Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award
  • 2018 Dave Pearson Watershed Excellence Award from the Virginia Lakes and Watershed Association
  • Virginia Park and Recreation Society – Best New Environmental Sustainability Award, November 2018.

Project Overview

The work in the stream included naturalization of the stream bank and construction of nine living shoreline features along the edge of the stream. The living shorelines have added 1/2 acre of new wetland area.  Living shorelines are a more environmentally sensitive way to protect stream banks and coastal areas, with wetland plantings behind small stone breakwaters. They provide numerous benefits including:

  • reducing erosion along the bank,
  • improving water quality by capturing sediment and utilizing nutrients, and
  • providing habitat for fish and waterfowl.

The existing stone rip rap that used to cover the stream banks has been removed and replaced with 5 acres of native plant meadows that will improve the habitat quality and aesthetics of the stream channel.  Some of the stone was reused to create the living shoreline features.

The project meets Corps of Engineers requirements to maintain flood protection, improves pedestrian access to the waterway as well as aquatic and riparian habitat. Alexandria recently completed a wetland restoration project across the stream as part of the Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan partnership.

View a flyer about the restoration project.

Public Art

The Four Mile Run project includes two public art projects that serve to interpret and enhance the site:

Project Background

During the 1960s and 1970s, Four Mile Run experienced significant flooding events as the watershed became more urbanized. In 1974, Congress authorized the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to design and construct a flood control channel that would contain the increased flows.

In 2000, the City of Alexandria, Arlington County and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NRVC) began to explore the stream’s water quality and recreation potentials. The Four Mile Run Master Plan was completed in 2006 and the Design Guidelines in 2009.

A “demonstration project” was selected from the Master Plan to be completed first. The plans for the stream project include:

  • Naturalize the banks along the corridor and improve access to the stream through overlooks and terracing.
  • Replace rip-rap stone along the banks with native plants.
  • Create living shorelines, which are small breakwaters built from stone with wetland plants behind them, on the Arlington side.
  • The existing asphalt trail adjacent to Four Mile Run will be completely rebuilt to current standards, including a new sub-base and asphalt surface.
  • New trail railings and a new observation platform will be installed.
  • Restore the tidal wetland condition in Four Mile Run Park on the Alexandria side (completed).

About the Process

Citizen's Joint Task Force (JTF) with representatives from Arlington and Alexandria was created in 2003 to help guide the Four Mile Run restoration plan. The JTF has met over the years as the project has progressed and provided input to the project.  The JTF continues to meet to discuss projects in the lower Four Mile Run area. 

December 2021 JTF Meeting Presentation(PDF, 6MB) and Meeting Summary(PDF, 138KB)