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.

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