ResOURces Newsletter-June 2012
By Fairfax County Park Authority - Tuesday, May 22, 2012
NATURE, HISTORY AND HORTICULTURE IN FAIRFAX COUNTY
June 2012 Volume 12, Number 3
Getting Along with Coyotes
Coyotes expanded their range into Northern Virginia in the latter third of the 20th century. Today, they are an established part of our environment. Read our update on how to live with coyotes in the county.
Because it's Fun. It's Just Plain Fun.
Get the kids into your back yard this summer. You go, too, and have some fun. Turn the children loose to dig a hole, play in the dirt, find a worm, watch a bee dance with flowers, see chasing squirrels scramble up a tree, trace the lines of a spider's intricate artwork, or grow a vegetable (beans are easy).
The Park Authority has this simple new idea we call our Family Backyard Initiative. It's a plan to get kids into nature in their own backyard. We've done research that determines it's a good idea, explains why it's a good idea, where you should go to be part of it, and what you can do when you get there. So what do you do?
Go outside and play. And you know what? In suburbia, some folks have forgotten to do that.
We're reminding you that there's a great, natural world out there. All you need are rocks, dirt, trees, flowers, mud, and water. Nature play works best when children are left to their own devices. No goals. Few rules. Just play. And then do it again, because research shows that the more time a child spends outdoors, the greater its impact on their growth, development and love of nature.
Need some ideas for what to do? Head to our website. Start on the Family Backyard page. You'll learn how to build a wildlife-friendly backyard by providing water, shelter and food, and you'll meet five people who've done that. Check out the list of things to do outdoors in every season of the year. Read the Family Backyard brochure. Learn from the folks at Green Spring Gardens which plants grow well in Northern Virginia. Then, for more information, visit a nature center.
Fairfax County may be a heavily-populated, suburban area, but it also has some magnificent natural areas. It is the second most populous community in the United States to be certified as a National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat. To earn that recognition, the county had to gain wildlife habitat certification for at least 800 individual homes, 10 community areas and six schools. As of May, the county had certification for 1,658 homes, 58 common areas like parks and businesses, and 73 schools.
Why a county initiative to get you into your backyard? Because it improves your quality of life, and that's one of our mission goals. A 2009 University of Rochester study showed that being in, or even just looking at, nature helps kids feel less stress and become nicer. A clinical report for the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2006 showed that unstructured play is essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that children living in the U.S. today spend, on average, 30 minutes of unstructured time outdoors each week. Compare that to the Experience Life magazine report in 2004 that said, "The average kindergartner has watched more than 5,000 hours of TV by age 5. That's more than enough hours to earn a college degree."
See? We did the research and made the plans. Now, check out our website for ideas, then get off the computer and go outside and play.
Historic Huntley Now Open
Another piece of Fairfax County history is open for viewing.
More than 200 people toured Historic Huntley on May 19 when the house that was built for Thomson Francis Mason, a grandson of George Mason, opened to the public. The 19th century architectural gem at 6918 Harrison Lane in Alexandria is on the National Register of Historic Places, the Virginia Landmarks Register and the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites. The grounds are open dawn to dusk, and the buildings are open on Saturdays through the fall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for guided tours that delve into the site's mysteries and stories. Learn more about the house online at http://1.usa.gov/M5JR1H. For more information, contact Historic Interpreter and Site Coordinator Geoff Cohrs (email@example.com) at 703-768-2525.
Sully Car Show
Sully Historic Site's
Annual Antique Car Show
revs up on Fathers' Day, June 17. More than 400 antique and classic cars will be on the historic site's grounds, courtesy of the Fairfax County Park Authority
and the Model A Ford Club of America. No reservations are required for the 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. event, and the price ($10/adult, $8/senior, $7/child) includes a tour of the site's 1794 historic house
Chessie Joins the Lee District Park Family Recreation Area
Fairfax County is providing more accessible playgrounds this summer. Chessie's BIG Backyard is now part of the Lee District Family Recreation Area. The Chesapeake Bay-themed playground brings specially-designed, fully-accessible slides, swings and, in the future, a carousel to Lee District Park. Tiki Village is the first of three play areas in the playground to open.
Stephanie Copeland, the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Virginia, will take part in the Tiki Village play area ribbon-cutting at Lee District Park on Saturday, June 16 at 3 p.m. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay are on the list of community leaders planning to attend the ceremony.
Nautical Cove and Treetop Haven, the two other planned play areas, will be constructed as funding becomes available. Funding is being provided through the Fairfax County Park Foundation's Chessie's BIG Backyard campaign, chaired by former Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman. The project's notable donors, Lowe's Charitable Foundation, Craig and Belinda Stevens, The Sundial Foundation and The Kelley Syron Sunshine Fund, are helping to make Chessie's BIG Backyard a reality.
In addition, the second season of Our Special Harbor, the outdoor sprayground at the Family Recreation Area, begins fulltime on June 16. Remember, aqua shoes must be worn by everyone who enters the spray pad. Limited shoes are available for purchase in a variety of sizes at the park.
Thanks to "Take Back The Forest" Volunteers
The goal was 500, more than double the 200 volunteers who helped the Invasive Management Area (IMA) program in the spring of 2011. A program called Take Back the Forest was created to reach that goal, and Natural Resource Specialist Kristen Sinclair says, thanks to community support, "we crushed it." Invasive Management Area Coordinator Erin Stockschlaeder says 705 people, more than triple last year's tally, volunteered for IMA during Take Back the Forest from April 15 to May 15. That was the largest number of IMA volunteers in a 30-day period in the program's seven-year history. Each volunteer received a t-shirt and a deck of invasive plant playing cards, thanks to a $10,000 program grant from REI, Inc. The volunteers removed 375 bags of invasives, not including species that could be left on site to compost or sites with roll-off dumpsters, and planted more than 150 native plants.
Hidden Pond Envirothon Team Second in State
The Hidden Pond Nature Center Envirothon team claimed second place in the Virginia State Envirothon Competition for the second year in a row. Hidden Pond won both county and regional competitions on the way to finishing second behind Fort Defiance High School. The state's top 15 teams competed in the finals May 20-21 at James Madison University.
In the four categories that determine the state champion, the team from Hidden Pond finished first in oral presentation, first in wildlife, second in aquatics and third in forestry.
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Events in the Parks
Park Calendar of Events
Activities/Classes in the Parks
Some Extra Clicks For You
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Fairfax County Park Authority | Fairfax, VA 22035 | 703-324-8695 | Fax 703-324-3996 | TTY 703-803-3354 | www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/resources