Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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Nearly 40 residents joined in the Tripps Run stream clean-up last Saturday, picking up trash and litter in drainage areas of Sleepy Hollow Park, J.E.B. Stuart Park, and Lake Barcroft. The effort was organized by Lake Barcroft resident and environmental educator Betsy Washington, and focused on removal of upstream trash and debris dumping that, if left alone, would find its way into Lake Barcroft and, ultimately, into Cameron Run, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay.

A discussion about any stream clean-up draws out memories of removing shopping carts, styrofoam cups and plastic bottles, used oil cans, and even the occasional car chassis. It is dirty, messy work, sometimes involving brute strength, and volunteers who undertake the challenge are truly special. It’s sad, though, to think that these volunteers gave up a beautiful autumn Saturday morning to clean up after people who, most likely, are completely oblivious to the mess they are making when they fail to close garbage can lids, or throw empty containers on the ground, or discard used motor oil into storm drains. Of special concern are the areas around our athletic fields. Water bottles, juice boxes, food wraps, and paper goods are common debris left behind when a team leaves the field, regardless of the adjacent trash cans. It takes only a moment to pick up litter and place it in a receptacle, or take it home and put it in the household trash. Lake Barcroft’s Watershed Improvement District estimates that 1000 pounds of upstream trash and debris flow into the lake from Holmes Run and Tripps Run every day. A minute or two of thoughtfulness can save our local environment, and keep our backyard streams clean and healthy.

Watershed protection is an important element in the overall quality of life for Fairfax County residents. Although a lot of focus is on restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, that effort begins at home. Mason District and Fairfax County are riddled with runs and rivulets, which provide a natural drainage system that has operated for hundreds of years. When these streams are compromised by excessive trash and debris, the system cannot handle the run-off, and flooding can occur. Floodwaters scour the sides of the streams, dumping sediment downstream and sometimes exposing the root system of buffer trees, which weaken and eventually succumb. Keeping an eye on the health of your back yard or nearby stream, planting native trees and shrubs along the buffer zone, and making sure that trash is secured from floating or flying onto another property, can make a big difference. It takes only a little knowledge and a desire to keep our neighborhoods ship-shape. A big THANK YOU to Saturday’s volunteers!

The second public meeting to discuss the future of the Boyd A. and Charlotte M. Hogge Park property was held Monday night at Glen Forest Elementary School. Several dozen residents reviewed the draft master plan that was developed following public input gathered at an earlier May meeting. The new park, on Glen Carlyn Road adjacent to St. Katharine’s Greek Orthodox Church, contains about six acres. About half of the property is in floodplain or a Resource Protection Area, leaving about three acres that are usable as parkland. The draft plan envisions a small active recreation or court sport area, a small picnic pavilion, an open play area, playground, and community gardens. A few speakers opposed the gardens concept; others expressed support. Traffic, parking, and immediate need for park benches also were discussed. The draft plan may be reviewed on-line at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/hogge.htm. The public comment period ends on December 15. The Fairfax County Park Authority Board will act on the revised master plan during the first quarter of 2011.

 


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]


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