Park Authority

Fairfax County, Virginia

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

TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Sara Baldwin,
Acting Executive Director

Snapshots E-Newsletter October 2020



October 2020

Share your Photographic Memories of 70 Years of Parks


Parks are places to make memories, and the Park Authority is celebrating its 70th Anniversary year by asking decades of park visitors to share their favorite park memories through stories and photos.

Maybe it was reaching a fitness goal. Going camping. Discovering wildlife along a trail with your grandkids. Catching a fish. A child’s first train or carousel ride. Learning to swim, kick a soccer ball, ride horseback, paint or dance. Touching a snake or turtle in a nature center. Enjoying an outdoor concert on a warm summer night. Scoring a hole-in-one on a golf course. Getting married at a park.

Parks mean so many different things to everyone who visits them. Please take a moment to share your special memories and photos through Survey Monkey.

Here are some flashbacks to happy park times in the past. We look forward to sharing your images through our social media accounts and a variety of anniversary-themed publications.

Share your Photographic Memories of 70 Years of Parks

Photo by David Wyttenbach
Spa at Lee District RECenter then and recreated in 2014

Share your Photographic Memories of 70 Years of Parks

Photo by Dustin Hetland
We love the parks for fishing!!!

Share your Photographic Memories of 70 Years of Parks

Photo by Denise Hayden
We love Fairfax County parks because there is always something to do! My children, now 30 & 22 have enjoyed birthday parties, scout programs, and many outings to the REC Centers and nature centers. And now I'm enjoying them again with my granddaughter.

Photos Document the Changes in Parks Over 70 Years

In 1950, you could buy a roll of film for your Kodak Brownie camera for less than a dollar.

Remember film?

Yes, a lot has changed since the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) got its start 70 years ago. The park system has grown from its initial nine acres to more than 23,500 today. In honor of the FCPA’s 70th Anniversary, here are a couple flashbacks to the early years of the agency.

A Picture is Worth 280 Photos Document the Changes in Parks Over 70 Years

Capturing the Colors of Fall

Capturing Colors of Fall

Local parks are awash in beautiful colors this time of year as leaves turn from the greens of summer to the brilliant reds, oranges and yellows of fall. Catch the colorful leaves reflected in the water at parks such as Burke Lake, Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Riverbend Park, or head into the woods or wetlands at Scott’s Run Nature Preserve or Huntley Meadows Park. County parks have more than 330 miles of trails to explore.

Wondering which trees are responsible for the show? The Virginia Department of Forestry offers a fall leaf-peeping guide and lists these trees and their autumn colors:

  • Ash: yellow and maroon
  • Beech: yellow to orange
  • Dogwood: scarlet to purple
  • Hickory: golden bronze
  • Oak: red, brown or russet
  • Poplar: golden yellow
  • Red maple: brilliant scarlet

Here are some images of fall in the parks captured in past years by Park Photographer Don Sweeney:

Capturing Colors of Fall
Capturing Colors of Fall

Photo credit: Don Sweeney

The Scramble for COVID-conscious Photos

The Park Authority has an extensive photo catalog of folks enjoying parks in countless ways, including visits to nature centers and historic sites, working out at RECenters, taking nature walks, and attending a wide variety of programming for children and adults. These photos are used on posters, in publications, for social media posts and in many other forms of community outreach.

However, when COVID-19 began sweeping through the region, it quickly became apparent that these pre-pandemic photos could send the wrong message. Folks appeared without masks, in large groups, and clustered closely together. Photographer Beth Duke was sent on a mission to take photos more reflective of the current circumstances. Here are some of her images from Hidden Oaks Nature Center where staff and visitors are adapting to the new normal with more outdoor programming, mask wearing and social distancing.

The Scramble for COVID-conscious Photos

Two Amateur Photographers Honored with Elly Doyle Park Service Awards

Two Amateur Photographers Honored with Elly Doyle Park Service AwardsTwo photographers are among those who will be honored by the Park Authority this year with Special Recognition Awards for their volunteer efforts on behalf of parks. Jane Gamble and Elarbi Touil will be recognized as Elly Doyle Park Service Award recipients during a virtual ceremony in November.

Two Amateur Photographers Honored with Elly Doyle Park Service AwardsJane Gamble is an amateur photographer who provides professional-quality photos to the Park Authority for use in the agency's communications. Her specialty is wildlife, particularly at Huntley Meadows Park, and her photos frequently appear on the Park Authority's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, as well as the ResOURces newsletter and other agency publications. Her stunning images help the agency advance its mission of education and stewardship.

Gamble first began contributing photos to the Park Authority in April 2019 when she offered a few sample snapshots. Since then, the agency has used well over 100 of her photos. There's no doubt the images she has captured have helped the Park Authority increase its social media following, and most importantly, helped a new generation of citizen stewards appreciate the natural world and our place in it.


Two Amateur Photographers Honored with Elly Doyle Park Service AwardsElarbi "El" Taouil has worked with the Cub Run Park Volunteer Team since 2017, participating in bi-yearly cleanup events and using his gift for photography to inspire local residents to care about the park. He has volunteered to lead photography expeditions into the park to teach camera and photography basics, and the Fairfax County Park Foundation has used his photographs in social media posts, annual reports and fundraising appeals that have helped parks financially.


Taouil's photos have helped put Cub Run on the figurative Northern Virginia birding map, and he's happy to answer questions about his photography when hikers encounter him in the park. He also created a time lapse video of his favorite spots to take bird photos at Cub Run and Sully Woodlands that can be viewed here. In his award nomination, he was described as "the kindest man you will ever meet in his signature camo pants and olive shirt with camera in hand."

Sharpen your Focus with Park Photography Classes

Sharpen your Focus with Park Photography Classes

Photo credit: Don Sweeney

Develop your talent for photography this fall with classes covering the basics or focusing on nature and history. Beginner and intermediate photographers can learn about their camera’s controls, resolution, flash, composition, stop motion, close-ups and more in the "Digital Photography I" and "Digital Photography II" classes at Burke Lake Park. These series begin October 17 and are designed for participants age 13 to adult.

Get up with the sun for the "Nature Photography at Dawn" class at Huntley Meadows Park on October 11. This class for adults focuses on park wildlife that is active in the morning hours. Beginner and intermediate photographers will learn how to capture these wildlife moments with their DSLR.

History buffs with some photography experience can register for "Photographing Local History." This series is offered at Spring Hill RECenter, beginning October 18. Participants age 16 to adult will focus on architectural, close-up, color and black and white techniques on field trips to local historical sites.

SNAPSHOTS Reflections

emailWe would love to hear from you! Comments or suggestions for SNAPSHOTS E-News are welcome. We encourage you to contribute an article and share your photographs to be included in a future SNAPSHOTS E-News.

Email comments, articles and photographs to


Editor: Judy Pedersen, Public Information Officer

Writers and Contributors: Carol Ochs

Layout and Design: Don Tubel

Photograph Contributors: Don Sweeney

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