Highlights of the Natural Resource Management Plan
As the county’s largest landowner (with almost 22,500
acres in more than 388 parks), much of the respon-sibility
for preserving Fairfax County’s rich natural
and cultural resource heritage rests with the Fairfax County
Park Authority. The Park Authority holds this heritage as a
public trust to preser ve for current and future generations.
–Natural Resource Management Plan, 2004-2008
And that's what the Natural Resource Management Plan is all about. In
2003, only about 26,000 acres of county land (excluding parkland) remained
undeveloped. That's only about nine percent of Fairfax County. As this
undeveloped land shrinks away, parklands play a critical role in preserving
Park Authority Leadership
Traditionally, resource management plans are done on a park-by-park basis.
Preparing an agency-wide plan for a large,suburban park system is a fairly
new concept. In addition to resource management,the plan also covers
the vital role of volunteers and partnerships, as well as cooperative efforts
with other county agencies; such as the Department of Public Works and
Environmental Services, and the Department of Planning and Zoning. Following are highlights of the plan's elements and goals.
Natural Resource Planning: This section talks about the “big picture.” It
sets up the necessary policies and procedures for gathering vital information
about parklands, such as natural resource inventories, along with establishing categories for natural and developed parkland. This enables the Park
Authority to make the most effective and informed decisions about resource
management, with an eye on best practice and effective partnerships.
Vegetation: Fairfax County retains areas of rich vegetative diversity, often
found on parklands. This element of the plan is about knowing what kinds
of plants are on parklands (taking inventories), monitoring their health,and
managing vegetation for long-term vitality. This involves preserving rare
and significant plants, and controlling invasive plants that threaten the natural
Wildlife: Thanks to conservation efforts, Fairfax County still has a
rich diversity of wildlife in our parks, including river otter, bald eagle,
fox, deer, beaver, reptiles, amphibians and birds.This element involves
assessing the health of parkland animal populations,helping to
preserve rare and significant wildlife, promoting bird and other
habitats, and using best practice to mitigate and resolve wildlife
conflicts within the community.
Water Resources: Water resource preservation is one of the most
important issues facing the county. Fairfax County has 980 miles of
streams, many of which have been dramatically degraded over time
by pollution, stormwater runoff and erosion. This element of the
plan focuses on preserving water quality,rebuilding and revitalizing
stream valleys, and protecting county streams,ponds,wetlands and
rivers from further degradation or destruction.
Air Quality: With an increased number of Code Red air pollution
days in Northern Virginia, increased attention is being given to air
quality. This element covers ways and strategies by which the Fairfax
County Park Authority can be a good partner and support the efforts
of other government agencies striving to improve air quality.
Human Impact on Parkland: This part of the plan covers two
areas.The first is how to plan parks for the comfort and enjoyment
of citizens,while protecting natural, fragile resources at the same
time.This latter part involves mitigating the damage done to
parklands through overuse or improper use, such as encroachment
(e.g., dumping grass clippings or cutting down plants on parklands),
littering, and vandalism.
Education: Even though this is the last element listed in the plan, it
is one of the most important.It involves stewardship education,
ways to inform you and me, our children, Fairfax County employees
and citizens of the simple things we can do to help the Park
Authority protect our natural resources and quality of life in Fairfax