Friday, December 28, 2007

Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- RalphWaldo Emerson

In the spirit of Emerson's challenge to be a trail blazer, and do new things, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority's Board just adopted a new and exciting five year Strategic Plan. Below are some of the highlights. the full plan may be seen at:

Vision 2012
Envision Northern Virginia in 2012 and the role of the Northern Virginia Regional Park
Authority (NVRPA) in improving the quality of life of over 1.6 million residents. We see a Regional Park system that has grown substantially in the previous five years, responding
to the public’s strong interest in preserving more natural areas and historic sites through an expanded system of parks. We see a growing network of trails allowing the public to bike, walk, hike and paddle more places. We see NVRPA setting a national example of how every park can engage the public in learning about our natural, cultural and historic resources. We see a Regional Park system that has continued to innovate in providing popular regional recreational opportunities to the public. And we see a healthy park system where older facilities are well maintained, and where a strong entrepreneurial spirit allows NVRPA to continue its role as a national leader in conservation and recreation.

This vision of the future can become a reality, and this Strategic Plan for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is the trail map that will help us navigate from where we are to where we want to go.

Waypoint 2007
As we look back over nearly fty years of history at the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, it is clear that this unique agency has always been a trail blazer. Founded by forward thinking citizens who believed the preservation of large natural areas and protection of our major waterways could be best achieved by pooling regional resources. NVRPA is unique today as the largest regional park agency in the Commonwealth. Early leaders like: Ira Gabrielson, Walter Mess, Elizabeth Hartwell, Ellen Bozman, John Mastenbrook and many more, served as representatives of member jurisdictions on the NVRPA Board and helped the agency grow to include over 10,000 acres, 21 diverse and wonderful parks and over 100 miles of trails. In addition to the great parks and programs, NVRPA has won national recognition for its lean and innovative management. Where most park agencies’ operations are 40-80% taxpayer subsidized, NVRPA generates over 80% of its operating revenues through enterprise operations, providing taxpayers an unusually high value.

The Map Ahead
Like any forward thinking document, the Strategic Plan is not meant to detail every action that will be taken over the next ve years, but rather to articulate the major steps that need to be achieved to move the agency from where it is to where it can, and should be, in the future.

Goal 1: Increase, Maintain and Enhance Conservation of Natural, Cultural
and Historic Resources.
Develop the strategy and resources to grow our base of parkland (acquire more land).
Steward NVRPA existing natural and historic resources for the enjoyment of future generations.

Goal 2: Expand and Improve Recreational Facilities to Meet Northern Virginia’s
Population Needs.
Expand and adapt current facilities to better meet the needs of our diverse population.
Invest in the maintenance of current park facilities. Connect recreation with interpretive and educational efforts.

Goal 3: Enhance and Expand Opportunities for Cultural and Environmental
Interpretation and Education that Foster an Understanding of the Relationship
between People and the Environment.
Cultivate community partnerships that will bring great educational opportunities to the parks.
Make every park a place where we provide the public with information about our natural, cultural and historic resources.
Help the public understand the role NVRPA plays in preserving our natural and historic resources.

Goal 4: Develop Mechanisms for Sustainable Financing.
Assure sound nancial planning and management.
Expand resources through further enterprise operations, new partnerships and enhanced philanthropic giving.

Goal 5: Increase Public Awareness and Recognition of NVRPA’s role in the Region.
Expand the use of parks through effective marketing, and communicate the story of NVRPA’s achievements to the public we serve.

Goal 6: Provide Exceptional Leadership for NVRPA.
Assure good governance and development of volunteer and staff resources, to implement the Mission and Strategic Plan.

The Journey

The Journey ahead will be exciting. We have an opportunity to take this great and unique organization of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and build it into a powerful tool to enhance the quality of life in our region. If we succeed, we will have a healthier connection between our people and our land. The public will be spending more time engaged in outdoor activities and have a greater appreciation for the rich natural and historic treasures of our region. Embarking on any new journey takes courage. The great advantage of this journey is that we embark on this expedition with the energy and talents of all the NVRPA supporters, member jurisdictions, partners, volunteers and staff throughout our region. Together, we have a powerful team that can achieve great things.

Thank you for embarking on this journey with us.