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Park Authority Natural Resource Management Plan

Park Authority Adopts Natural Resource Management Plan

The Fairfax County Park Authority Board adopted a new Natural Resource Management Plan on January 29, 2014. This plan spells out how agency staff and partners are to protect, restore and manage the natural treasures entrusted to our care.

The Park Authority owns over 23,000 acres, most of it undeveloped. Residents expect and rely on natural areas to provide recreational opportunities as well as environmental services and benefits. The natural resources on parkland can also be considered natural capital: living organisms; non-living components, such as air, water, and soil; the ecosystems they form; and the services they provide. These services include cleaning our air and water, supporting biodiversity, and providing healthy, open spaces to enjoy nature that contribute to a high quality of life for residents. Natural capital is an asset that requires active management to retain its function and value. 

In urbanized areas like Fairfax County, factors such as disturbance from human land uses including development, encroachments and recreation, over-browsing by white-tailed deer and competition from non-native invasive species place tremendous stress on natural areas and impact their ability to function as high quality ecosystems.  Identifying and removing stressors is the first step towards helping the land heal. 

The Natural Resource Management Plan provides direction to staff to incorporate natural resource management into all Park Authority functions and requires that we inventory, plan, protect, manage, educate and build partnerships to ensure proper stewardship in support of the agency mission. The Park Authority Board approved the first agency wide Natural Resource Management Plan on January 14, 2004.  That plan built the foundation necessary to fulfill the Park Authority stewardship mission and directed staff in the establishment of best practices.

The new Natural Resource Management Plan builds on the old plan and provides a new strategic vision for managing our natural capital. The plan includes 26 actions arranged under four management themes. These themes require us to know what resources we have and what condition they are in, protect them from negative impacts, restore and manage them to the best of our ability to promote their long-term health, and to engage partners and educate residents to promote stewardship.

The Park Authority Board and staff look forward to engaging with our many stakeholders and partners to implement the Natural Resource Management Plan to promote the health of our natural capital and ensure the many benefits it provides are passed on to future residents.

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