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“AstroTurf on Kingman Island?!”

by Prince Of Petworth April 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm 17 Comments


Update from Living Classrooms Foundation:

“To clarify~ the items on site belong to our partner REI and are there temporarily as props to support the REI stage at the bluegrass festival on 4/30. The astroturf and potted trees will be removed from the island after the festival. REI brings hundreds of volunteers to help clean up the island each April (including 300 volunteers this weekend!). Funds raised from the bluegrass festival (a zero-waste event) go directly to support hands-on education programming for inner-city youth. To learn more about Living Classrooms’ education and job-training programs, visit www.livingclassrooms.org. Thanks for your concern, but you don’t have anything to worry about – we all have Kingman’s best interest at heart! Hope to see you on April 30th on Kingman Island!”

“Dear PoPville,

Although I’ve never seen any education programming, I thought that Kingman Island was supposed to be an environmental classroom – partly because the Kingman Island Bluegrass festival claims to be raising money for environmental education on the island.

Recently I’ve noticed that a large number of trees have been cut down and replaced with grass, non-native trees, and AstroTurf.


Yes. AstroTurf.

Isn’t Kingman Island owned by the city? Who is making these decisions? How does cutting down trees and putting down AstroTurf fit in with environmental education curriculum? And moreover are they using funds from the Kingman Bluegrass Festival to buy AstroTurf and cut down trees?

(On that note, one might question how environmentally friendly and responsible it is to pack 10,000 people onto tiny Kingman for a weekend festival… Think about the wildlife who have their otherwise quiet home invaded by 10,000 people.)


Some of the trees that look like they were purchased from Home Depot. They have tags that say they are great patio trees – with names like dwarf laurel. Half of the trees are dead – but still in pots.”

  • Tim

    Great, now I feel like an asshole for going to the bluegrass festival :(

    • neighbor

      but it’s so much fun!

  • Anony

    Well, this is kind of ridiculous

  • mark

    Green grass and High Tides* forever?
    *changed to reflect climate change reality

  • anon kingman park

    Living Classrooms manages Kingman Island and runs educational programming. I would try emailing them to see if they have a reason for putting down astroturf. https://livingclassrooms.org/ourp_kingman&heritage.php

  • neighbor


  • The one image looks more like sod than astroturf, but assuming it actually is the fake stuff it looks like they only place they put it is on top of concrete, where grass doesn’t exactly grow so well.

  • E in Rosedale

    Look like it’s definitely a chincy job of landscaping and site management on their part, Living Classrooms, or whoever else might be involved in site management there. As an environmental organization, they should definitely be promoting natives. And really, there are SOOO many environmentally sustainable options for high-traffic areas where grass won’t work besides astro-turf. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal, but LC should be managing things on the islands as a showcase for visitors. As to the Bluegrass Festival, I’m 100% for it. An afternoon of positive public exposure is a huge net win for both the islands and the river itself.

  • K

    I believe that DC owns Heritage and Kingman Island Park (run by DMPED?) and the area is managed by Living Classrooms. I can’t tell from the pictures but that appears to be one of the classroom areas, where kids and a guide can sit and talk. The astroturf appears to be about 10 foot in diameter and where the kids would sit on the ground. Until the area can be fully restored I don’t really mind if Living Classroom uses $25 to put down some outdoor carpet/ turf so little kids can sit on something other then concrete.

    • Anon

      Isn’t it a bit ironic to teach kids about nature when they sit on AstroTurf? What do you mean once the area is “fully restored”? If you want nature to look like a manicured golf course, why not go to the golf course on the other side of the bridge.

      • K

        by fully restored I mean remove the concrete. But your right. Let the kids sit on the concrete to learn about nature.

      • Chris

        I mean is is astroturf or concrete there so take your pick

  • Mojotron

    The astroturf is simply laying on top of the cement and is not fixed in place. my guess is that they did this so that children would be comfortable when sitting in class.

  • Timebomb

    The concerning thing here is chopping down mature trees that are healthy. Are we sure this happened? Astroturf (or, more accurately, simulated grass) isn’t environmentally unfriendly as far as I know, unless new areas are being paved to lay it down. Is it possible the trees being cut down were in bad shape?

  • Seb

    Checked in with Living Classrooms this morning (feel free to reach out to Alex Quarles, their Director of Development [email protected]) and the turf and trees are a temporary thing for the festival. They were leftovers from the REI space in NOMA (REI partners with Living Classrooms and the bluegrass festival) so they were donated and will go to REI’s new space after the fest is over.

    • Thanks for checking! I was going to have to bother people. This doesn’t seem too bad. The trees that were at REI, while not native, are not known to be invasive species, so even if they did plant them, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. They’d probably die, anyway.

  • Lee Cain


    From the Director of Kingman Island, with Living Classrooms:

    It’s nice to see so many people caring about Kingman and Heritage Island Park. However, misinformation can be damaging, so please be careful about the claims being made online.

    Fact: No native trees have been cut down. We (Living Classrooms, who manages the island) do remove invasive trees and shrubs such as tree of heaven, and Japanese honey suckle in order to promote native habitat and wildlife corridors. Perhaps that is the confusion?

    Fact: 8,000 students per year from DCPS use Kingman and Heritage Island Park for supplemental education programming. Surrounding Counties have outdoor campuses dedicated to serving their public schools. Kingman is DC’s equivalent. Environmental Education Groups have advocated for systemic Environmental Education in the District and we got it, because kids learn better with context and being outdoors. Today, between 9:30am and 12:30am our partner Anacostia Watershed Society brought 80 students out to help restore wetlands as a part of their Rice Rangers program. The education and restoration is needed because the Anacostia has lost 94% of it’s wetlands, so we’re all working hard to bring them back.

    Please contact me if you have questions or would like to be involved. I am working to build a community coalition to support Kingman and Heritage Island Park to maintain the natural resources there and to keep it a great amenity for the public. My name is Lee Cain and my email address is [email protected].

    Thank you,

    Lee Cain


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