Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Above Photos:
Top: Blue Ridge Regional Park
Bottom: Cindy Holcomb & Rhonda Krafchin from REI present me with $5,000 check for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority

Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) is much more than a great store to get all your outdoor goods, it is an organization that directly contributes to promote conservation and outdoor recreation.

Today REI donated $5,000 to help the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority develop Blue Ridge Regional Park, near Bluemont Virginia in western Loudoun County. This is a 165 acre property on the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains that we are developing into a youth group camping site. In June our first group of scouts camped out on this beautiful mountain wilderness location. With the donation from REI we will build an amphitheater and start the process of building a trail network on this property.

The site is both beautiful and rustic. If you are looking for running water, electricity and flush toilets, try one of our family campgrounds at Bull Run or Pohick Bay. Blue Ridge Regional Park is for youth groups that want to have a real wilderness experience. It has three camping areas that can each accommodate a group of 20-30. There are fire rings, picnick tables, and porta-potties. We will soon build a shelter using an old stone fire pace from a previous house as the focal point of the shelter. The camp ground is available for organized groups by appointment only. If your group is interested in a great back country camping experience call 703-352-5900.

REI's contributions are not limited to Blue Ridge Regional Park. They have been one of the most consistent contributing organizations for NVRPA for over a decade. In June they organized volunteers to build bridges and blaze areas of trail as part of the Potomac Heritage Nation Scenic Trail, on NVRPA easements and land. Last year they contributed to projects at both Potomac Overlook Regional Park and Bull Run Regional Park, and the list goes on, and on, and on... REI has made conservation a key part of their mission. They understand that people need places to camp, climb, bike, paddle and hike, if there is going to continue to be a market for outdoor gear... An incredibly enlightened perspective.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Largest Trees in Great Falls

On the 4th of July, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority received recognition for having some of the largest trees in Great Falls Virginia.
The Great Falls Citizens Association conducted an extensive heritage tree census this year. One of the goals of the Citizens Association was to highlight the great resource they have in large mature trees, and hope that this effort helps to save these great trees.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns over 700 acres in Great Falls. This land is along the Potomac River. Today it is a key part of the Potomac Heritage Scenic Trail system. In the late 18th Century this area was part of the Patowmack Canal system that George Washington built. The Patowmack Canal system was built many years before the C&O Canal on the Maryland side.
Because this area along the river has been largely natural for so many years, it is home to a very mature forest. The largest tree in Great Falls, a Sycamore is on Regional Park Authority land. We also had the largest Hickory, and White Ash. In addition we have among the largest American Beech, Chestnut Oak and Silver Maple.
The Great Falls Citizens Association is a great organization, and I hope their effort to highlight the importance of our mature trees help to protect them. Many of these large trees have been growing for hundreds of years. These giants should be protected like other historic assets.

Thomas Jefferson H.S. Competes at Henley

For the second year in a row the rowing team from Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County was among the best crew teams in the world, competing at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. We would like to think that one of the factors assisting these great athletes has been one of the best rowing facilities in the country at Sandy Run Regional Park. The Sandy Run facility is on the Occoquan Reservoir and is a facility dedicated to scholastic rowing.

The TJ Men’s Varsity won all their regattas against all the local competition in Virginia. They then beat five top crews from across the Mid-Atlantic States and New England at the St. Andrew’s Invitational regatta. After that regatta, it became clear that TJ’s boat this year would be very good. And, good it proved to be, winning the Virginia State Championships, the world’s largest high school regatta (175 schools), the Stotesbury Cup Regatta in Philadelphia, and the Scholastic Rowing Association of America National Championships.

This record made it clear that the boat would not only qualify, but be offered one of the eight top seeds, for the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta, the premier rowing event in the world. As rowing is not school sponsored in Northern Virginia, the parents worked hard to make arrangements and to raise funds to get the team to England for the regatta. After practicing for more than a week in England, rowing practice races against numerous other college and club crews from the US, the competition bracket was determined on Saturday June 30. TJ, while seeded, was placed in the half of the bracket with the Irish, Australian, Canadian, and British champions.

TJ won its first two races “easily” (more than five lengths) against Methodist College, Belfast, the Irish champions, and then Winchester College. In the round of eight, TJ faced the Brentwood College School, the Canadian champions, and lost after battling its opponent for the lead for the first mile. Brentwood ended up second in the regatta losing by one foot to Shrewsbury School of England. The TJ Men’s Varsity Eight ended their amazing season US National Champions and one of top eight high school boats in the world!

Congratulations TJ on an outstanding season!!

(All but the first paragraph of this post was copied from a report to TJ supports from Warren Muir)