Minnie’s Island – Restorative Recreation And Ecological Preservation

Members of the Minnie’s Island Community Conservancy (MICC) meeting with CJ residents Oct. 27 shared tales of their multifaceted efforts to restore Minnie’s Island’s natural habitat and refurbish the cabin on the property to comfortably host veterans, educational groups, and others looking to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. 

In addition to sharing photos of their work, Pascal Pittman, chairperson of the MICC board, explained that when they started it was impossible to walk the length of the island due to all the overgrown vegetation— now there is a new pathway. They also uncovered a well and hope to install a solar array to power a pump for the well. They plan to have a composting toilet and an overarching goal of a net-zero footprint. 

Pascal also stressed a goal of fun and noted that they have hauled a grill out to the cabin deck and already hosted a BBQ for volunteers. 

CJ resident Hanna Moerland, who chairs the group’s Natural Resources Committee, stressed that the group has “a mandate to figure out how to balance the community goals with the preservation of the Potomac Gorge’s unique biodiversity.” 

She noted that there are 1,400 different plant species in the Potomac Gorge and some 300 species are considered rare, endangered, or threatened. During one recent effort at removing invasive vines, they uncovered a rare Maryland goldenrod plant, which they will protect from island visitors. (See this month’s Nature column for more on the goldenrod.) 

Another CJ resident, Neil Shaut, heads up the Physical Facilities Committee, which he describes as the group responsible for safety, whether it has to do with transporting people to and from the island, securing the cabin, or keeping the first aid kit at the ready. This month, they have experts going out to the island to do a forensic survey of the cabin and its foundation to see what needs to be done to ensure its soundness. 

The goals are ambitious and the MICC welcomes anyone interested in volunteering or just curious about their work to check out their website, www.minniesisland.org.

Susan Shipp, CJCA President 

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