March came in like a lion, adding fuel to arguments about climate change and its effects locally, nationally, and globally. At the National Association of Counties (NACo) annual legislative conference last weekend, local officials discussed the challenges of climate change. Interest in the subject was high, necessitating adding room at the Resilient Counties luncheon that featured guest speakers from the NOAA Climate Program Office, and Broward County, Florida. In parts of western Nevada, formerly dry lakebeds are flooding because of intense rainfall, affecting structures and land values. Farther west, California counties have lost hundreds of thousands of acres to wildfires. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed, and when the rains came, mud flows destroyed much of what was left. In fact, the luncheon chairman revealed that he and his family had been rescued by emergency personnel just two days before he came to Washington, as his home in Sonoma County was flooded by the Russian River. In the Midwest, tornadoes have a similar destructive effect, with little or no advance notice, and in fragile southern Florida, population growth has impaired the availability of drinking water. Hurricanes and blizzards pummel the East Coast, and extreme temperatures sometimes freeze the Great Lakes, affecting commerce and shipping lanes.
No specific solutions were presented by the resilience panel, but the overarching recommendation was plan, plan, plan. Federal, state, and local programs and policies must be updated constantly, especially as staffing changes and new relationships are developed. Some of those relationships led to the development of Fairfax County’s recently released Community Emergency Response Guide, full of helpful information for residents and businesses. It may be accessed online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergencymanagement/cerg. The guide is the result of more than a year of work with first responder and emergency management personnel, and provides information about how you can make your own emergency plan, and what to do when county assistance may not be available. Climate change and weather emergencies are not going away, so preparedness is crucial to survival — yours and your neighbors’.
County parks are a lot more entertaining than emergency preparedness, and a fun new program just started in Mason District, which boasts a nature center, a horticultural center, a recreation center, an amphitheatre, and a golf course, plus a rentable historic house and a bevy of parks with ballfields, tennis courts, and playgrounds. From March 1 through August 19, the Fairfax County Park Authority invites families to explore many of our parks with a new activity, Follow the Beadin’ Path.
Pick up an activity sheet at any of four staffed sites – Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Green Spring Gardens, Providence RECenter, or Pinecrest Golf Course (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/beadinpath) — and visit selected parks to answer questions. Return to one of the four sites to collect a special whimsical bead to add to a necklace cord for each correct answer. After answering at least five questions, return your flier to one of the four sites to receive a prize packet. A full color map of the parks in Mason District will help guide you to future explorations. Join a naturalist for a kickoff event on the new interpretive trail at Mason District Park on Saturday, March 16, at 11 a.m. It’s fun for the whole family, and free, too!