Monday, December 11, 2006

Bigger Better Brighter - Light show success

This year the light show at Bull Run Regional Park is all new and attracting record crowds. The new show is the only all LED holiday light show in country. These LED lights are brighter than normal bulbs, last much longer and us only one tenth the electricity of the previous show!

It is an amazing experience driving through two and a half miles of light show in the comfort (and heat) of your car. To date, we has seen almost 12,000 families come through the show!
If you would like to see some video of the show you can use the following link to see when Holly Hunter from FOX 5 News reported from the light show: [the link has expired]

At the end of the light show, on Dec. 14th - 17th and Dec 20th - 24th, is the Winter Wonderland Holiday Village. There is an ice skating rink, tree sales, various vendors selling hot chocolate, food, arts and crafts, as well as carnival rides and a stage with local musician. On Saturday December 10th we named Gerry Connolly (Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors) as our honorary Mayor of the Holiday Village.

Those interested in visiting the light show may want to consider coming during the week when the crowds are less, and may want to visit WWW.NVRPA.ORG for the $2 off coupon.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Biodiversity in Urban Parks

[Images Above: Club Moss on the top, and Shining Sumac on the bottom]
Some assume that urban landscapes are void of any notable natural features. The truth is quite different. We have recently been conducting natural resource inventories of some of our parks in urban settings, like Arlington Virginia, and have made some interesting findings.

The Shining Sumac bush on the right is tied for the largest specimen of its kind in the state. The Club Moss while not rare state-wide is somewhat rare in our region. Sometimes our parks are amoung the last natural areas left in urban landscapes. As such, they serve as important places for nature to thrive, and important places for people to go and get re-connected to the natural world.

While it is not well known, some of NVRPA's parkland provides habitat for species that are federally listed as threatened or endangers (the two plants pictured above are not in this category). Whether endangered or just rare to our region, protecting our biodiversity is an important part of our mission as a regional park agency.

For those wanting to learn more about local plant species, one of the best places to go is the Potomac Valley Collection at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna. This great Regional Park is a wonderful place to get acquainted with a wide variety of native plants, so the next time you are walking through the woods, you will see your surroundings with a whole new appreciation.