Park Authority

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Kirk Kincannon,
Executive Director

Invasive Management Area Program

Help restore parkland.

Invasive plants prevent us from enjoying our forests. They degrade our natural ecosystems. Ever get stopped in the woods by climbing vines or shrubs with thorns? They may have been invasive species. Some of them, like multiflora rose, can completely swarm over a section of woods and block out everything else.

However, invasives can be thwarted. The Fairfax County Park Authority has a volunteer program that battles invasive species, removing them and replacing them with native species.

Get involved in protecting your local parks. Volunteer for the Invasive Management Area program. Even a few hours on a single day will help.

Students and scouts, do you need to earn some community service hours? IMA is the program for you! Call or email to get involved. 

Volunteer

The IMA calendar is your opportunity to volunteer. Use it to find IMA dates convenient for you. Youth, adults, scouts and groups all help. If you do not see a date that works for you, please contact the IMA coordinator who will happily help place your group. 

To join a workday, click on the IMA Calendar or contact Erin Stockschlaeder at 703-324-8681 or Gloria Medina at 703-324-6525.

  • IMA workday forms must be received by noon the day prior to the event for weekday workdays, and by noon on Friday for weekend workdays.
  • The minimum age to volunteer is 11, however there are occasional opportunities where younger children can participate. Please contact the IMA Coordinator for details.
  • Volunteers 13 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Students who need community service hours, please bring the form to be signed to your workday.
  • IMA hosts a special volunteer promotion called Take Back the Forest each spring.
  • Information: Call 703-324-8681

Wear sturdy shoes, gloves, long pants and long sleeves. Bring water. Tools are provided.
Enjoy the company of others who care about the environment while learning about your local forests.

What is IMA?

The Invasive Management Area (IMA) Volunteer Program is a community-based project designed to reduce invasive plants on our parklands. This program gives volunteers an opportunity to connect with like-minded people while taking care of natural resources. Through IMA, you’ll protect the plants and wildlife of Fairfax County's forests while spending time outdoors, meeting new people and restoring natural habitats.
IMA is more than just pulling weeds. It’s also habitat restoration and a long-term commitment to parks. Invasive plant species are difficult to remove and control, but with the help of IMA volunteers, undesirable non-native, invasive plants are removed and native plants are returned to the habitat. Native plantings take place in the spring and fall.
The IMA project began in 2006 with 20 sites. Since then, more than 35 acres have come under IMA management, and there are 40 active IMA sites. More acres have been treated and restored by contractors and staff.

Learn about the Early Detection and Early Response Program.

What are Invasive Plants?

Invasive species are, generally, non-native species that cause ecological or economic harm. They share certain characteristics, such as being able to mature quickly and generate many offspring, and they can tolerate a range of habitats. For example, Japanese stiltgrass can produce seed in as little as 1% sunlight.
Because they can successfully grow in new territory, invasive species make terrible neighbors. They out-compete native species for the same resources, eventually reducing the populations of native species and, in some cases, even eliminating species from a community altogether. Some invasive species have more complicated effects that send ramifications up the food chain. That leads to fewer native birds and less wildlife. The third main impact of invasive species is their ability to alter the natural functions of a plant community or an ecosystem by changing soil conditions. Soil conditions are one factor in determining which plants can grow in a specific place.

Invasive Forest Plants Brochure

IMA goals: 

  •   Focus community support and momentum to do something about non-native, invasive plants
  •   Garner more community involvement and support
  •   Educate the public about the effects of non-native, invasive plants
  •   Participate in outreach opportunities regarding non-native, invasive plants
  •   Develop healthy habitats, such as meadows and forests, that are free of invasive plant species

Fairfax County Non-Native Invasive Plant Assessment

IMA Funding

Invasive Management Area funding is provided by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in support of the board’s Environmental Agenda. Grants were provided by REI, Inc., in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.  The IMA program also is supported in part by the Fairfax County Park Foundation. 
To learn how private and corporate donations help restore parkland habitat, please visit the Park Foundation website.

We thank our many partners for their continued support of IMA.

  • Fairfax Master Naturalists
  • Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Earth Sangha
  • Fairfax ReLeaf
  • Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
  • Virginia Native Plant Society, Potowmack Chapter
  • Weed Warriors, The Nature Conservancy