Fairfax County Sponsors Community Watershed Forum for Little Hunting Creek


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Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
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June 30, 2003

 

Fairfax County Sponsors Community Watershed
Forum for Little Hunting Creek

On July 19, Fairfax County will sponsor a free Community Watershed Forum to seek citizen input on a watershed management plan for Little Hunting Creek. The watershed forum will be held from 12 to 4:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Carl Sandburg Middle School, 8428 Fort Hunt Road, Mount Vernon.

The county plans to develop watershed management plans for all 30 county watersheds, the areas that drain to particular streams, all of which empty into the Potomac River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. The Little Hunting Creek watershed management plan will provide a consistent basis for evaluating problems and implementing solutions. The goal is to protect and restore the stream and related natural resources, such as wildlife habitat.

Paul Shirey of the county's Stormwater Management Branch explains, "The watershed forum is a key opportunity for the community to participate in the watershed planning process and to help shape the outcome of the plan."

As part of the development of each management plan, county staff members are working with local communities to generate solutions to problems in their watersheds that have been identified. The Little Hunting Creek watershed planning process began in December 2002 and will be completed by spring 2004. The county has hired the team of Woolpert L.L.P. and the University of Virginia's Institute for Environmental Negotiation to encourage community involvement, analyze data on existing watershed problems and provide recommendations on how to solve them. The community involvement process includes a steering committee comprised of 16 community representatives from neighborhoods, businesses, conservation groups and other local interests. In addition to seeking input from the steering committee, the county has planned four public workshops, including the July 19 watershed forum.

Little Hunting Creek originates in Huntley Meadows Park and flows into the Potomac River at Mount Vernon. With its major tributaries, North Branch and Paul Spring Branch, it drains an 11.25-square mile watershed that is primarily residential and commercial, including the Route 1 corridor. A recently completed physical assessment of over 800 miles of streams in Fairfax County, combined with ongoing biological monitoring by local volunteers, has provided valuable information on current conditions in Little Hunting Creek. This watershed suffers from problems common to older, developed urban watersheds, such as paved land cover, loss of natural buffers, flooding, stream bank erosion, polluted runoff and trash.

"As a community, we've been treating these streams like sewers," said steering committee member Paul Phelps, "but if we put our heads together, we can find ways to undo 50 years of mistreatment."

The first part of the community watershed forum will include a watershed academy to teach participants about watershed planning issues. The second part of the forum will solicit the community's input on the most effective ways to improve the condition of Little Hunting Creek. Advance registration is not required but will help coordinators to ensure adequate space. To RSVP, send an e-mail to Littlehuntingcreek@virginia.edu or call 703-684-4460, ext. 3, TTY 711.

The watershed planning program is administered by the Stormwater Planning Division of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. Information can be found on the program's Web site by clicking on Little Hunting Creek Watershed at www.fairfaxcounty-watersheds.net. For additional information, contact Fred A. Rose, P.E., chief, Stormwater Management Branch or Paul Shirey, P.E., program manager, at 703-324-5500, TTY 711.


 

 

 

 

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