In just a relatively short period of time, humankind has mucked up the planet. Here in Fairfax County and other parts of the region, tobacco planting during colonial times, and 20th-century suburban sprawl have done a number on the land.
Fortunately, good stewardship has prevailed in certain parts of the county. One of the best examples is Huntley Meadows Park, located a couple of miles south of Alexandria. A satellite view quickly identifies these 1,200 acres of forest and wetlands next to Hybla Valley as a green oasis.
Yesterday morning, the park celebrated the completion of a wetlands restoration. The year-long project included installing an earthen berm, habitat pools, and brush shelters and logs to provide additional wildlife habitat.
Judy Pederson, Public Information Officer for the Fairfax County Park Authority summed up the significance of the event.
“Today is a culmination,” she said, “of 22 plus-years of discussion, deliberation, and finally a project that is restoring the wetlands to its former glory, restoring water levels which are key to the health of the estuary.”
The need for this work arose partly due to the runoff of storm water from the surrounding neighborhoods.
Park Manager Kevin Munroe spoke about the importance of biodiversity.
“We’re excited about the fact that all the support and research have paid off,” he said. “We’re going to have a healthy wetlands.”
The ceremony included thanking Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Jeff McKay, volunteers, park employees past and present, and board members.
Huntley Meadows Park and its precious wetlands were in danger of a knockout blow from the very beginning. In 1975, a South Van Dorn-Lockheed Boulevard Connector was proposed, a four-lane road that would have cut through the heart of the park. Norma Hoffman stepped in and helped form “Citizens Alliance to Save Huntley Meadows.” After a long, drawn out battle, the park was saved.
Huntley Meadows Park grounds are open dawn to dusk. The main entrance is at 3701 Lockheed Blvd. Hours change seasonally for the Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop. A $2 donation is requested.
The Huntley Meadows parking lot off of South Kings Hwy is currently closed while VDOT re-works the intersection of Telegraph and South Kings Highway. This project, with an anticipated Spring 2015 completion, includes a new parking lot for the west entrance and an improved storm water discharge system.