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Park Users Reminded to Leave Landscape Undisturbed


Stream Valley ParkThe arrival of spring and warmer weather draws people out of their shuttered homes for walks in the woods and trips to the playground. Hikers and bikers are treated to the sweet scent of blossoming trees and blooming flowers along the trails, and songbirds serenade picnickers and fishermen. As more people find their way to their favorite green spaces, the Fairfax County Park Authority would like to remind park users of the old adage, "Take only photographs and leave only footprints." 

While a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers may add a splash of color to someone's kitchen, removing any plants from the parks is against the law. According to Charles Smith, manager of the Natural Resource Management and Protection Branch, "The Park Authority prohibits the disturbance of animals, vegetation or soils and the removal of any natural or manmade material from parks to include plants, minerals, wood, rock, etc."

The forest floor is covered in branches and logs; many are the perfect size for someone's fireplace. But they are not to be hauled away as firewood. This woody plant matter is part of a diverse ecosystem and should be left alone. Similarly, stones and rocks look better scattered throughout stream valleys than placed in someone's yard as decorative landscaping elements. Rocks help hold soil together which in turn helps reduce erosion.

Unfortunately for treasure hunters, Fairfax County parks are off limits to metal detecting. Artifacts should be left alone so as not to disturb the historical record. Our archaeologists will miss important contextual clues if artifacts are removed before a site can be properly cataloged.

Fairfax County parks are filled with wildlife, and in the wild is where the animals should remain. Frogs, turtles, salamanders, snakes, butterflies, and small mammals are not to be removed from parkland. Park users should leave these critters alone for others to enjoy after them.

And, finally, the parks are much more enjoyable for everyone when litter is removed of properly. If a trash bin can't be found, remember to "pack it in and pack it out." Besides preventing litter from polluting our local waterways, disposing of litter is a simple way to keep parks clean.

One of the reasons Fairfax County residents love their parks is they provide lush oases in a quickly urbanizing area.  To protect parkland for current and future park users to enjoy, please don't remove any natural or manmade materials. Leaving the landscape undisturbed is the right thing to so. It's also the law. View the law and policy online (Appendix 7, Section 1.22). For more information about natural resources and stewardship visit the Natural Resource Management and Protection Branch online.


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