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Park Authority Master Plan

Great Parks, Great Communities

Read the Draft Master Plan

Great Parks, Great Communities Draft Master Plan

Great Parks, Great Communities Draft Master Plan Appendix

Great Parks, Great Communities Park System Map


Thank you for your comments on the Draft Great Parks, Great Communities Parks and Recreation System Master Plan!

Check back here for project updates and follow along on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter @fairfaxparks.

Expand Master Plan Guiding Principles
Planning Process and Timeline

Expand Learn more about the Park System

Fairfax County Park Authority was established in 1960 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on approximately 23,359 acres of land.

The park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services. Whether young or old, active or a little more laid back, two-legged or four, the park system provides enjoyment to nearly a million visitors each year. As the county grows and changes, the park system serves to build and sustain a sense of community.

The mission of the Park Authority is two-fold:

  • To set aside public spaces for and assist citizens in the protection and enhancement of environmental values, diversity of natural habitats and cultural heritage to guarantee these resources will be available to both present and future generations.
  • To create and sustain quality facilities and services which offer citizens opportunities for recreation, improvement of their physical and mental well-being and enhancement of their quality of life.


The park system is vast and includes many facilities, services and programs. Many of these are highlighted in these Fast Facts and in the Park System at a Glance infographic below.

Parks at a glance
Expand Learn more about the Planning Process


Like the population of Fairfax County, the demand for park and recreation options to serve county residents continues to grow. In order to meet the demand of the community for places to recreate, while at the same time protecting and preserving the county’s precious natural and cultural resources, the Park Authority has followed a park system master planning process to guide future improvements and changes to all elements of the park system.

What is the Park Authority Master Plan?

The Park Authority Master Plan establishes a long-range vision that provides clear direction and strategic alignment for all Park Authority policy, actions, programs, parks and facilities within the Fairfax County Park Authority system of services. Unlike many master plans that are specific to a given park, the Park Authority Master Plan is specific to the bigger picture of the entire park system. The park system master plan integrates a detailed knowledge of the existing park system conditions with the desires of the community to provide a document that will provide recommendations to guide and inform the park system over the next 10-20 years. Public input it a critical component in the development of the park system master plan.

The Park Authority Master Plan core objectives are to:

  • Incorporate the community input and updated data that has been collected from the planning process into one Agency Master Plan;
  • Create clear direction and strategic alignment for all Park Authority policy, actions, programs, parks and facilities within the Fairfax County Park Authority system of services; and to
  • Align all major plans under the one Agency Master Plan and ensure consistent direction and service delivery to the community; and by doing so
    • Meet the accreditation standards of the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA)

What is the planning process?

Beginning with the Parks Count Community Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment, which was completed in spring 2016, the planning team worked to gather community input and share information about the park system, providing an opportunity to carefully listen to the community’s input on the needs for the park system. Park users and non-users, neighbors and stakeholders were notified and encouraged to share their insights throughout the planning process.

With the help of more than 4,600 survey respondents, dozens of stake holder meetings with the community, open houses, focus groups and Park Board, and using new outreach tools through our website, email and crowdsourcing, we are now in the final phases of our development of a comprehensive park system master plan aimed at meeting the community needs.

As the park system master planning process continues, a staff team has been assembled with broad areas of expertise to develop a well-informed, balanced perspective on the park system. Park Authority leadership is also advising the staff team throughout the development of the master plan.

The staff team will develop a draft plan for the park system, incorporating the community’s input, staff input, and additional analysis.  Once a draft plan is prepared, it will be published on the project webpage for public review and comment.  Additional public comment meetings will be held to present the draft master plan to the community and listen to the community’s feedback. There will also be opportunities to provide comments and feedback online.

The community’s comments will be carefully considered and the draft plan will be adjusted as needed.  While not all individual preferences can be accommodated, the Park Authority strives to provide a fair process and a balanced park network that addresses a variety of needs and issues.

Following public comment and plan adjustments, a final version of the park master plan is presented to the Park Authority Board for approval.

Plan implementation requires that capital and operational funding be allocated to advance plan recommendations. Capital funding is typically provided by voter approved park general obligation bonds or other sources of alternative funding such as development proffers or donations. Operational funding is typically provided through Park Authority revenue funds and the Fairfax County General Fund.

Expand Learn why we are revising the master plan

Why revise the Great Parks, Great Communities Comprehensive Park System Master Plan that was approved in 2011?

A system master plan revision is undertaken when the park system or its surrounding community have notably changed. This is the case with the Fairfax County park system.

The park system master planning process was first initiated with the 1993 Recreation Demand Study. The plan has been revised several times over the years, most recently in 2011.  The 2011 Great Parks, Great Communities Comprehensive Park System Master Plan reflected the existing park system and community dynamics, with a focus on park lands and facilities.

The plan envisioned a system that was guided by several community-developed themes:

  • Connectivity
  • Community Building
  • Service Delivery
  • Facility Reinvestment
  • Land Acquisition
  • Resource Interpretation
  • Cultural Resource Stewardship
  • Natural Resource Stewardship

Many of the strategies detailed in the 2011 plan have been completed despite funding challenges. Additional improvements or system changes have also been made where possible in order to address emerging community needs.

News Articles & Blogs

Check out our news articles to learn more about the focus of the master plan and how it responds to needs we heard from the community through the 2016 Parks Count! Needs Assessment process.

Comment Sought on Draft Parks and Recreation System Master Plan

Master Planning the Park System - Blog

Park Authority Long Range Plan Highlights Importance of Parks to Environment - Blog

Park System Map

Learn more about related activities throughout the park system
E-Mail Updates

Over the next several months we’ll be working with a team of technical experts, staff, and FCPA leadership to draft the plan. We’ll be sharing that draft with the public this summer and seeking input on the draft master Plan at that time. In the meantime, stay tuned for more information about the Park Authority and our Agency Master Plan on our website and through emails and social media.

Provide your e-mail address on this page to be kept up to date!



Your e-mail will only be used for updates regarding the Park Master Plan project.


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