Monday, December 22, 2008

Regional Park Authority Turns 50

Walter Mess Recieving Award

(Left to right: Brian Knapp, Walter Mess, & Barry Buschow)

Darrell Winslow Recieving Award

(Left to right: Paul Gilbert, Darrell Winslow, & Joan Rokus)

On December 20, 2008 NVRPA kicked off a year of 50th Anniversary festivities with an event at the Bull Run Festival of Lights.

We took this opportunity to thank our member jurisdictions of: Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, and the Cities of Falls Church, Fairfax and Alexandria. For half a century NVRPA has been conserving land and creating destination parks in Northern Virginia. We also took this opportunity to give special awards to two individuals who helped make NVRPA what it is today, Walter Mess, Board Member and founder from 1959 - 2004, and Darrell Winslow, former Executive Director who worked for NVRPA from 1966- 1994.
Some of the comments made during this event are listed below:

William Chesley, Alexandria Parks Department
We are certainly appreciative for our relationship with the [Regional Park Authority]. In fact, listening to remarks here in terms of the economy, we’ve been grateful to be able to take advantage of the Regional Park Authority’s facilities. So, the economy not withstanding, I’d just like to say that NVRPA does a great job, the facilities look nice, and the customer service is outstanding.

Barbara Favola, Arlington Board of Supervisors
I can tell you that Arlingtonians really do appreciate the Park Authority. The community of Arlington is a small community, only 26 miles, and the Park Authority is a big part of that. Thank you for being so progressive. You’ve grown along with the county, you’ve developed along with the county, you’ve been really responsive in increasing our tree canopy, the invasive plant initiative … you’re helping us on a number of things. We appreciate your support, and we’re happy to continue to be a partner with you.

David Snyder, Falls Church City Council
The saying goes that nothing happens by accident. Nothing is truer than that expression with regard to the wonderful public service that the park authority has provided. Let’s see now, recreation, education, environmental protection, historic preservation. Not bad for one agency. So as we look forward to the next year, I’d like to say congratulations; to all those who started it, to all those who serve on the board, and to all the professionals involved who have truly created a wonderful legacy, not only for the present, but for the future as well.

Robert Lederer, Mayor of Fairfax City
First of all, let me just add my congratulations on behalf of the city of Fairfax for 50 years of providing a wonderful service to our region and certainly to our community. In the city of Fairfax, we take our parks and open space very seriously. We’re only 6 square miles, but we have 23 separate parks, we have 21 miles of pedestrian and bike trails that tie in the Fairfax County System and open space, added 42 acres of open space the last three years. The Park Authority is obviously a big part of that. Congratulations on 50 years.

Sharon Bulova, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
The regional park authority combines things that are of the highest priority to [Fairfax County], such as the preservation of open space, tree canopy and also our recreational opportunities. Looking ahead to our future as well as to our past, I think our future is going to be a great one, and so more and more the opportunity to be able to preserve our green space in the region is going to be of the utmost importance. Thank you for continuing to work with us and helping to create a green future.

Penny Gross, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
I want to thank the Regional Park Authority for accepting the challenge of the Korean Bell Garden, which is going to be at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. They tried to find a spot in [Fairfax County] … and they found a home with the Regional Park Authority. It is going to be fabulous. It is going to be that kind of place where more and more people can enjoy their own culture, a place very reminiscent of their homeland. I want to thank the Regional Park Authority for stepping up to the plate and making Fairfax County a better place to live.
Joan Rokus, NVRPA Board Member and former Loudoun County Supervisor Revieved the plaque on behalf of Loudoun County.

Santa's Garage

This year at the Bull Run Festival of Lights we added "Santa's Garage" to our Holiday Village at the end of the light show. Santa had quite a collection of red and white vintage muscle cars. This proves that even St. Nick like his toys. In his stable was a 1968 Mercury Courgar, a replica 1965 AC Cobra, a 1968 Pontiac GTO, and a 1965 Corvette.
Santa was overheard saying that "when you have to travel the whole world delivering toys in just one night, a fast red convertible is very handy." Rodolph could not be reached for comment.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Riverfront land in Loudoun to become regional park

Last week we released the news that we had a contract to buy a 275 acre property on the Potomac River as a new regional park.

First the Washington Post wrote a story on it and then it was picked up by the Associated Press and has been run on too many newspapers to list, including the International Herald Tribune, numerous local radio shows and TV. Below is the piece put out by AP.

Riverfront land in Loudoun to become regional park
By the Associated Press
December 4, 2008
LEESBURG, Va. - Officials say a 275-acre swath of land with ties to the Civil War will be protected as a regional park in Loudoun County. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority will buy the tract along the Potomac River north of Leesburg. The park authority will pay private landowners about $2.8 million for the parcel. The property was once the home of Confederate Lt. Col. Elijah White and was used as a strategic route during battle. The park, which includes a half-mile of Potomac shoreline, will be known as White's Ford Regional Park. It will include a boat ramp, picnic pavilions, campgrounds and cabins. There also will be interpretive exhibits explaining the park's Civil War history.

Here are some links to other articles written about this land deal:

Washington Post

Leesburg Today

Loudoun Times

Col. White is the second person from the left seated.
We believe the two women standing were the Ball sisters who lived at Temple Hall Farm during the war. At one point the Ball sisters were arrested smuggling medical supplies from Maryland across the ferry.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Parks Win the Election!

The votes are in and Parks are in the winner’s circle in Fairfax County. On the ballot on November 4th in addition to the Presidential, Senate and Congressional races was a bond referendum on Parks. This bond will provide $66 Million to the Fairfax County Park Authority, and $12 Million to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to buy land, equipment, and development of park amenities over the next four years.

County-wide the three winners were:

345,978 Votes for Mark Warner of Senate (68%)
333,882 Votes for the Park Bond (68%)
310,359 Votes for Barack Obama (59%)

Fairfax County makes up portions of the 8th, 10th and 11th Congressional Districts. Jim Moran retained his seat in the 8th, Frank Wolf won reelection in the 10th, and Gerry Connolly won election in the open 11th District seat.

The high level of support for the park bond confirms the high value the public places on parks. Having open areas to reconnect with nature is critical to our quality of life.

Economically parks are also important. In Fairfax County Tourism makes brings in $1.9 Billion annually and parks play a large role in supporting tourism. Particularly destination parks like those of the Regional Park Authority are designed to draw people from a wide area. Campgrounds like those at Pohick Bay and Bull Run Regional Parks both offer a service to the local population as well as help support tourism. Parks like the W&OD Trail and the Bull Run Special Events Center and Festival of Lights attract hundreds of thousands (or millions in the case of the W&OD) from throughout the region and beyond. Jean Packard who serves on the Regional Park Authority Board representing Fairfax County address the connection between supporting park bonds and the health of the local economy. Her quote is in the bond endorsement published by the Fairfax Times Newspapers below.

Park bonds go to a vote
Fairfax CountyBy StaffSource: Fairfax County TimesWEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1 2008
Like everyone else searching for money, these are nervous days for park officials in Fairfax County.
On Nov. 4, county voters will be asked to weigh in on nearly $80 million in park bonds. This year's slate includes $65 million for the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) and $12 million for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA).
Fairfax County Park Authority, which operates 24,000 acres of parkland, proposes to invest the capital as follows: 30 percent for renovations, 30 percent for park development, 22 percent for land acquisition and 18 percent for stewardship.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, which oversees 8,000 acres in Fairfax, would spend:
38 percent on new facilities/renovations, 30 percent for capital maintenance projects, 21 percent for equipment and 11 percent for land acquisition.
Former Fairfax County board chair Jean Packard, now a member of the NVRPA board, said the soft economy shouldn't be used as an excuse to shortchange parks.
"I have seen investments in parks contribute to the overall health of the community in times of recession before," said Packard. "With home values down, we need to vote for the park bonds to help improve our communities. With the bond, we can stimulate the economy, and without it the condition of our parks will start to decline, bringing down real estate values even more."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Entrepreneurial Approach Helps Budget

The current economic challenges are causing all levels of government to rethink what they are doing and how they are doing it. With interest income down, cost of living up, and taxes from real estate and sales (primary sources for local government) down, the challenges to maintain a balanced budget are daunting.

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) is a regional agency made up of three counties and three cities in Northern Virginia. We do not have any taxing authority, but we do receive some tax dollar support from our six member jurisdictions. With tax revenues down substantially at both a state and local level, NVRPA will be coping with a leaner budget as well.

In our FY'2010 budget just approved by our Board last week, we were able to keep our per person cost for our member jurisdictions at the same rate as 2007. This is three years without any cost of living adjustments during a period of time with substantial inflation. We did this by reducing our general fund by 10%. This is the part of our budget that supports our headquarters and central maintenance functions. We also put in place a full time hiring freeze, and greater controls on all spending to control costs.

NVRPA has long been one of the leanest and most efficient park agencies in the nation. We now generate 81.5% of our operating expenses through self generated revenues. In 2007 the Pioneer Institute gave us a national award for entrepreneurial service delivery. Since 1990 we have gone from over 30% taxpayer support of our operations to our current 18.5%.

We faced considerable economic challenges in 2003 & 2004 and responded proactively. In 2005 we went through a reorganization that substantially brought down our overhead, and increased our productivity at the same time. We also started reinvesting in our own facilities, and approached the marketing of our parks in a business like manner.

As a result of our business like approach to running parks, we have seen annual double digit increases in the use of our parks over the last few years. Our enterprise revenues have increased nearly 30% in the last three years, and our facilities have never looked better.

Even with this great success story, our budget for FY'2010 is just barely balanced. This is due to a number of external factors including:

  • 18% increase in energy costs

  • Substantial increases to retirement program due to the stock market crash

  • Local government appropriations that have not kept pace with inflation

  • Sharply declining interest income

These factors are not unique to NVRPA, organizations everywhere are facing these and other issues that will challenge and strain budgets over the next few years. Currently the residents of Northern Virginia pay less than $5 per person for combined capital and operating support for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. For this modest investment they get a 10,000 acre park system with 100 miles of trails, five water parks, historic sites, campgrounds, botanical gardens, three golf courses, five marinas and much, much more. And all of this operated as one of the most efficient park agencies in the nation.

One example of the entrepreneurial approach NVRPA has become known for is the themeing of Pohick Bay pool in 2008 into Pirate's Cove Water park. The renovations and marketing resulted in a $125K improvement in financial performance, without an increase in rates. Another result was many more happy park patrons.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Park Bonds Offer Opportunity in Fairfax County

In addition to the Presidential election, voters will get to vote on new park bonds on Election Day in Fairfax County.

Voting to spend money on parks may seem counter-intuitive to some in a time of economic crisis but, in reality, this may be one of the best investments possible in the local community and economy. Here are some of the reasons:

In a year when all local governments in Northern Virginia will be working with a smaller budget due to a declining tax base from home values, the park bond will provide funds for long-term assets like land, new facilities and renovations. This money will help stimulate the local economy now, and will be paid back over the life of these improvements at a very low interest rate.
At a time when many neighborhoods are seeing a declining value, the improvements brought by the park bond can help shore up the appearance and property values of distressed neighborhoods.

With declining property values, there is a great opportunity to purchase new parkland at a good value for the public. Studies have shown that properties adjacent to or near public open space are valued measurably higher than similar property not near parks.[1]
This park bond will not be increasing the long-term debt of the County, but will be replacing other bonds that are being paid off. So, the long-term debt of the County will be held at roughly the same level. Fairfax County’s solid financial management has resulted in the highest rating for Fairfax County bonds (AAA).

“As both a former Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and a long time park supporter, I have seen investments in parks contribute to the overall health of the community in times of recession before. With home values down, we need to vote for the park bonds to help improve our communities. With the bond, we can stimulate the economy, and without it the condition of our parks will start to decline, bringing down real estate values even more,” stated Jean R. Packard, Fairfax County Board Member to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

This year’s park bonds include $65M for the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), and $12M for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA). In Fairfax County, the County Park Authority operates 24,000 acres of parkland, and the Regional Park Authority operates 8,000 acres of parkland. These funds will be spread over the next four years to cover long-term improvements to area parks.

Fairfax County Park Authority proposes to invent this capital as follows:
30% for Renovations
30% for Park Development
22% for Land Acquisition
18% for Stewardship

Detailed information on FCPA capital plans is at:

Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority proposes to invest capital for the next five years as follows:
38% for New Facilities/Major Renovations
30% for Enhancements/Capital Maintenance Projects
21% for Development Support/Equipment
11% for Land Acquisition

Detailed information on NVRPA proposed Capital Improvement Plan is at:

In a park needs survey conducted by NVRPA of residents in Northern Virginia conducted in 2007, the public expressed a great interest in acquiring new parkland and seeing existing parks well maintained. These are priorities that are accomplished through the park bonds.

In another poll conducted of Virginia voters by the Trust for Public Land in 2008, 84% of the public were interested in conserving lands that protected rivers and lakes that were drinking water sources. Most of the 10,000 acres of total parkland that NVRPA owns is directly connected to drinking water source protection. We have 13 miles of shoreline along the Potomac River, over 25 miles of shoreline along the Bull Run/Occoquan Rivers, and hundreds of acres adjacent to Beaver Dam Reservoir, all of which are drinking water sources for the residents of Northern Virginia.

In park bonds in Fairfax County over the last decade, the voters have demonstrated a track record of approving these important community investments by at least 70%.

[1] Economic Impact of Protecting Rivers, Trails and Greenway Corridors, National Park Service, 1995

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lafayette - American Liberty with a French Accent

The crowd cheered, the militia fired salutes, and the dignitaries gave patriotic speeches. This was the scene at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park on Saturday August 9th, as a crowd of over 300 people joined in the second annual Lafayette Day celebrations. The scene mirrored the events of August 9th 1825, when the Marquis de Lafayette, President John Quincy Adam and former President James Monroe visited Temple Hall Farm.

Lafayette Day is becoming one of the major events at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park that highlights the history of this farm. Temple Hall Farm was established in 1810 by William Temple Mason, a nephew of George Mason. Today, it is a popular farm park that hosts the annual fall MAiZE which attracts over 12,000 visitors. The public can enjoy farm tours, horse drawn wagon rides, playground and picnic areas most of the year.

Lafayette visited Temple Hall Farm as part of a year and a half tour of the United States, forty-five years after the American Revolution. Everywhere he went, large crowds came out to see the last surviving general of the Revolution. Prior to going to Temple Hall Farm, Lafayette, Adams and Monroe spent most of the day celebrating in Leesburg.

Lafayette was one of the most amazing figures in American and world history. In addition to being George Washington’s closest friend, he was responsible for bringing the French army and navy to help defeat the British at Yorktown, winning the Revolutionary War. After the American Revolution, he started the French Revolution. Lafayette was committed to liberty and lobbied for the end of slavery at the time of the Revolution. In the early 1800’s, he used some of his money to buy a farm in Tennessee for freed slaves.

Last Saturday, Michael Halbert played Lafayette, Brian Lewis played John Quincy Adams, and Jay Harrison played James Monroe. Other re-enactors included Bonnie Fairbanks as Mrs. Mason and Jenna Gilbert as Mary Mason (age 8); and Steve Doss, Todd Brighton, Andrew House and John Davidson played the local militia/honor guard.

Among the public was a group of French tourists who were interested in seeing one of their countrymen celebrated for his role in securing American freedom.

Temple Hall Farm is one of 21 parks owned and operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA). NVRPA has over 10,000 acres of parkland in Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington Counties and the Cities of Fairfax, Falls Church and Alexandria. Other major historic sites in the NVRPA system include the Carlyle House in Old Town Alexandria, Aldie Mill, and Balls Bluff Battlefield in Leesburg.

For more information on the Marquis de Lafayette see:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer fun in the water

Whether you like to paddle on it or swim in it, summer is the time to hit the water. And with fuel prices what they are, more people are looking for fun close to home.

This summer we have seen a significant increase in swimmers at our five water parks:

Algonkian's Down Pour

Bull Run

Cameron Run's Great Waves

Pohick Bay's Pirate's Cove

Upton Hill

Great Waves at Cameron Run is our flagship water park with the only wave pool in the region, and some of the best water slides and other features you can find anywhere. Upton Hill was completely renovated last year and continues to be more popular than it has ever been. Pirate's Cove is a great success story with almost a 300% increase in usage this year.

If you are seeking a more natural environment, there is nothing better than boating. I was paddling this weekend at Fountainhead Region Park on the Occoquan Reservoir and the boat launch area was buzzing with activity. The REI Adventure School was taking out a group to learn how to kayak. Individuals and families were renting canoes, kayaks and jon boats as fast as they could and those with their own boats were launching and joining the fun on the water.

Great Blue Herons and Bald Eagles put on a show in the sky, while the anglers were busy reeling in the fish.

Whether you want the excitement of going down a speed slide at a water park, or the peacefulness of gliding along the water and interacting with nature, now is the time to be one with the water, for summer will be over sooner than it should be.

Turning Point Dedication

The dedication of Turning Point Plaza at Occoquan Regional Park was a great success. This is the memorial to the Women's Suffrage Movement that we developed in partnership with the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area.

Over 100 people were in attendance. Senator George Barker and Delegate David Albo gave an official state commendation to both the League and the Regional Park Authority.

Lynne Garvey Hodge, who serves on the Fairfax History Commission did an amazing first person narrative of what it was like for those women who were arrested and put in prison near this site for protesting for the right to vote. She was in Character and period correct dress. Other living history reenactors contributed to make this event one to remember.

Now that the plaza has been dedicated and the interpretive signs are in place, the next step is the League will be fundraising to build a memorial brick wall to further the development of this important site.

For more information on how you can contribute to this project see the July 23 post on this blog.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Women Suffragist

Occoquan Workhouse 1917

91 years ago women seeking the right to vote were the first group to protest in front of the White House. Over the course of several months, hundreds of these women were arrested and put in prison. Many of them found themselves at the Occoquan Workhouse, a women's prison on the Fairfax County side of the Occoquan River. The exact site of the Workhouse is right on the edge of Rt. 123 by the entrance to the Fairfax Water treatment plant.

The news reports of these women's imprisonment were a key turning point in the effort to gain the right to vote. Because of these event, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote was passed. In order to highlight this important history the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has been working with the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area to create an area within Occoquan Regional Park called Turning Point Plaza that can help interpret this history.

This site has three interpretive panels. The first one covering the begining of the movement that started with Abigail Adam asking her husband to "remember the ladies" during the dafting of the constitution up to the early 20th Century. The center panel covers the turning point role that the Occoquan Workhouse played in gaining the right to vote. The third panel covers some of some of the key efforts since the 19th Amendment to achieve equality for women, and points to the future of this movement.

This Sunday, July 27, 2008 at the Occoquan River Festival, we will dedicate The Turning Point Plaza, as a memorial dedicated to the suffragists imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse. “The League of Women Voters was started by the suffragists who continue to be models of courage for us,” said Mary Grace Lintz, acting President of the Fairfax Area League of Women Voters.

The struggles of people to gain the right to vote and participate in society as equals are stories that need to be told and retold to every generation. The stories of the suffragists, the end of slavery, and civil rights are the events that helped define America as the democracy it is today.

Future plans of the Turning Point Plaza suffragist memorial include a long, brick wall with inserted plaques to commemorate the suffragist struggle for American women’s right to vote. If you would like to contribute to this fundraising effort, please visit the League of Women Voters’ website, Or you may send monetary donations to:

The League of Women Voters
4026 Hummer Rd., #214
Annandale, VA 22013-2403

For more information on the Women's Suffragist Movement I would suggest visiting the Sewall-Belmont House Museum in Washington D.C. or visiting their web site at :

Monday, July 21, 2008

No Child Left Inside

Last Child In the Woods by Richard Louv brought to national attention the stark facts about how today's children are spending much of their time indoor. This is contributing to the childhood obesity increase, possibly an increase in ADD, and a disconnect in our connection with nature.

The No Child Left Inside Coalition now has 500 member organizations including the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and is pushing to get more nature based education into the standards of learning.

Every year NVRPA offers our Junior Naturalist Camp at Potomac Overlook to engage children in nature. Most children love beeing outside and exploring the natural world and giving children these opportunities that most of us grew up taking for granted can help develop problem solving, an appreciation for nature and a curiosity about natural sciences.

Last week I met with folks from the Virginia State Park System to discuss how we could partner to offer more programs and opportunities that would help engage childen in natural world. I think we are going to have some good programs evolve from these discussions.

For any of you who have not read Last Child in the woods yet I would highly recommend it. It is probably the most powerful force in environmental education today.

Last Child in the Woods:

No Child Left Inside Coalition:

No Child Left Inside Video on YouTube:

Saving Kids from 'Nature Deficit Disorder' - NPR Radio Interview with Richard Louv:

Virginia State Parks:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Environmentalist Joe Gartlan Dies

Virginia, and the whole Chesapeake Region was greatly enhanced by the wisdom and activism of the late State Senator Joe Gartlan. Joe passed away yesterday after a long and productive life of serving the public and making the world a better place.

I have had a number of mentors over he years and I count Joe Gartlan as one of them. I met Joe in the 1980's when he was the most senior member of the Northern Virginia General Assembly delegation. He served in the Virginia State Senate for 28 years. Around 2000 Joe joined the Board of the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust when I was the President of that land conservation organization. In 2002 Joe served as one of my advisers for my Masters Degree project, which related to building environmental coalitions, something Joe was great at.

Joe was a giant in the environmental field. He Chaired the first multi-state commission on the Chesapeake Bay that led directly to the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement. Joe had the unique ability to be tenacious about the causes he was pushing, and at the same time so kind and gentlemanly that even his opponents liked and respected him.

Joe Gartlan lived a life of contribution. I feel very fortunate to have known him, and the Chesapeake Bay and all the life it supports including the millions of people that live in the region are better off because off Joe Gartlan. What a great way to have lived a life!

~ On the death of Senator Joseph V. Gartlan, Jr. ~

RICHMOND – Governor Timothy M. Kaine issued the following statement on the death of former Virginia State Senator Joseph V. Gartlan, Jr., who represented the 36th senatorial district from 1972 to 2000. He has also ordered the state’s flags flown at half staff to honor Senator Gartlan.

“Senator Gartlan was a true statesman. He wore his heart on his sleeve when it came to issues of social and economic justice,” said Governor Kaine. “He was a tireless and effective advocate for the environment, the mentally and physically disabled, and for abused and neglected children. He spearheaded efforts for funding natural resources and human service programs during his almost three decades of public service. His role was critical in galvanizing the regional efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

“He earned the respect of both parties for his intellect, integrity, and force of will. Over the years, he served as chairman of three Senate committees – Courts of Justice, Privileges and Elections, and Rehabilitation and Social Services. He also was a bold and active member of the Senate Finance committee, where he chaired the human services subcommittee.

“This is a sad day for Virginia, and our hearts are with Senator Gartlan’s family and many friends.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Global Dimming

Everyone has heard of global warming but much less known is global dimming.

Global dimming is the result of pollution in the atmosphere that reflects some of the suns rays, dimming and cooling the earth. The growth in global dimming and global warming have gone hand in hand since the dawn of the industrial revolution. And the effects of global dimming have masked the impact of global warming, so we have experience much less increase in world temperatures than we would have without the dimming.

Over the last 30 years we have been doing a better job of cleaning up the pollution in the atmosphere that causes the dimming. We banned CFCs in aerosols in the 1970s, and we have cleaned up smoke stack, and automotive emissions. This has been great for human health. The down side is with less global dimming, some experts are predicting much faster global warming in the coming years. If this turns out to be true we will need to accelerate our reduction of carbon emissions faster than we had planned... This will be one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century.

For more information on global dimming check out the following links:

As one would expect, global climate change affects everything including parks. The National Park Conservation Association release a study on the affects of global warming on National Parks called Unnatural Disaster:

Last spring I led a session on reducing your agency's carbon footprint at the National Recreation and Park Association's Environmental Summit and asked the group what impact they had seen. Officials from parks all across the United States and Canada are seeing the effects of global climate change today.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Occoquan Water Trail League

If you want to get out and explore nature and hone your kayaking skills, Northern Virginia has some of the best kayaking places one could hope for. To help build the paddling community in our area, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority helped create the Occoquan Water-Trail League.

last week I had the opportunity to go on a late afternoon paddle to four other kayakers out of Pohick Bay Regional Park. All but one of the group were involved in the establishment of the Occoquan Water-Trail League (OWL). This is a friends group of paddlers the Regional Park Authority helped establish about a year ago.

The Regional Park Authority owns 25 miles of contiguous waterfront along the Bull Run/Occoquan Rivers from Bull Run Park in Centerville to the Occoquan Dam near the Town of Occoquan. We designated the water-trail as a 40 mile resource that continues on the down stream side of the dam to include Occoquan Regional Park, Mason Neck State Park and around the Mason Neck Peninsula to Pohick Bay Regional Park.

The Park Authority converted our annual car-top launch pass into an annual OWL membership with unlimited launch privileges at NVRPA sites and also at Mason Neck State Park. The goal with OWL is to create a cadre of dedicated paddlers that could help spread the news about these amazing resources and contribute to their protection through service project.

Lots of recreational boaters love nature and support parks, and one of the groups that is most environmentally focused are sea kayakers. The peacefulness of paddling along on the flat water, and the ability to really travel some distances in these long boats is great for nature watching.

Mason Neck State Park and the Prince William County Park Authority have been great partners in the establishment of this water trail.

If you would like to get more involved with the local kayaking scene here are some good links:

  • Occoquan Water-Trail League

  • Chesapeake Paddlers Association is a great group - The Pirate's of Algonkian group from CPA has regular paddles out of both Fountainhead and Algonkian Regional Parks.

  • American Canoe Association - Great resource for safety information
  • Woody's Kayak Trips is a great page from a local paddler. Woody has been very involved in the creation of OWL, his site has great information.
  • Kayaking in Virginia - Good resource page.
  • Paddling in Virginia - This site has reports on various paddling locations.

Get out there and have fun!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hot Rods Rumble into Occoquan Regional Park

This last Sunday I participated in the first car show held at one of our parks. This show was the "Good Ol Days" car show sponsored by the Prince William Cruisers, a local hot rod club.

It was a great show with 160 hot rods, classics and customs. There was fun for the whole family. You could see and overhear folks with a few gray hairs reminiscing about when these cars were king. I also saw children who had only seen such wild rides with chrome superchargers and side pipes on toys. They were amazed to see that these were real cars.

These classic cars as as much a part of our culture's history as anything else, and it is great to see so many of these cool rides restored to better than new condition.

With the Occoquan hot rod show and a function of the Delmarva Cougar Club this spring at Bull Run Regional Park, NVRPA is becoming known as a great place to have a classic car show!

Some may question the amount of fuel these beasts consume, but in reality almost none of these cars are driven much, they are more rolling pieces of history. One car owner at this event who was asked about the cost of gas replied they he drove his hot rod less than 1,000 miles a year, or about 3 tanks of gas. Restoring and showing these beauties is more about sharing stories, showing craftsmanship, building community and having fun, than it is about rolling a lot of miles on these cars. One of my hobbies is the ongoing restoration of my 1967 Mercury Cougar. Like most classic cars, I take my Cougar to local cruise nights and shows and really do not roll a lot of miles on it. It is interesting that this 40 year old vehicle get about the same mileage as lots of new cars and trucks sold today. That says something about how the average mileage of new vehicles really has not gone up much other the last few decades.

The Club's proceeds from this show were donated to the Wounded Warrior Fund to assist wounded veterans.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Love of Outdoors Defines NVRPA Employees

Love of the outdoors, entrepreneurial, innovative, flexible, non-bureaucratic... These are some of the key characteristics of the employees of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

Last winter I took a course in Leading Organizational Change at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. As part of this course Dr. Sigal Barsade taught a session on organizational culture. The message was clear, if you want to create a new initiative like implementing a strategic plan it had better align with the culture of the organization if it is going to be successful.

In the last couple years we have been about a lot of positive change at NVRPA. We have a new mission statement, new falsities, a new energy conservation policy, perhaps the most cutting edge pesticide and fertilizer use policy of any public agency, and the first five year strategic plan in our agency's history. We have been successfully implementing all this change at the same time we have improved the overall condition and marketing of most of our facilities and have seen record public interest in our parks. That is a lot of change!

To help us continue our positive momentum we conducted an interesting study of the organizational culture of NVRPA employees. We did this through both extensive confidential interviews as well as an on-line survey. In this way we were able to collect both qualitative and quantitative data and compare them. The results are posted on the NVRPA web site at:

This study covers a wide range of issues that get at employees values, motivations, and expectation. On of the most encouraging elements is that the number one reason people work for NVRPA is a deeply rooted love of the outdoors. With a sincere passion for what they do, it is little wonder that NVRPA staff have achieved so much recently.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pool Safety

Today I spent some time with our senior lifeguards, pool managers, and park rangers in charge of our pools and water parks. The best of the best in the aquatics field. This was part of a three day training called Top Gun that is conducted each year by NASCO (National Aquatic Safety Company). Reinforcing, but going far beyond basic life guard skills, Top Gun teaches management to these young people. The quality of this education is fantastic. Dr. John Hunsucker, the founder of NASCO leads these sessions, along with other staff with professional teaching backgrounds.

NASCO also provides the life guard training, and regular auditing of our water safety staff. This company was set up to offer the higher level of safety training that is needed for busy water parks. Their client list is a who's who of major water parks across the nation.

Last year NVRPA received a "World Class" rating from NASCO as a result of their audit. This year we are very fortunate to have 75% of our life guards returning to us from employment last summer. This is a very good sign that most of our guards are familiar with our standards and are receiving their training for the second or third time.

The job of safety in our pools and water parks is perhaps the most important job in the whole agency.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bill Inman, Cowboy, Rancher, Optimist

Bill Inman rode his horse Blackie all the way across the United States to highlight all that is good about America. He left from Lebanon Oregon on June 2, 2007 and finished his trek by riding in the Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C.

I got to know Bill when he called me from the road and asked for assistance in how best to make it through Northern Virginia to Washington. Almost every day he would ride 20-25 miles, and his wife Brenda and friend Jonathan would travel ahead of him with their trailer and supplies. Jonathan recorded the details of this journey on

Bill and his team were running ahead of schedule and stayed for almost a week at our campground at Bull Run Regional Park. We put the Uncover America team up next to a grassy field where Blackie could eat the grass and clover, and across from our newly renovated bathhouse.

On Memorial Day Weekend Bill made his final steps of this journey. On Saturday he departed from Leesburg riding East on the W&OD Trail. He and his team camped overnight at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (something we only give permission to those that have ridden their horse at least 3,000 miles). On Sunday he rode from Vienna to Arlington on the W&OD and camped the night with special permission from Arlington Parks & Rec. Memorial Day Monday he rode into the City in the morning and joined the parade.

In my time with Bill Inman, I never heard a negative comment. He took this trip because he believed that our Country was a better place than the impression you get from watching the news. Throughout his journey he saw interesting places and met good, generous people everywhere he went. Bill also proved that whether riding your horse over 3,000 miles is for you or not, there are plenty of wonderful adventures to be had event in the 21st Century.

Bike to Work

Today I rode my bike to work. This has been something I have been thinking about for a long time. I planed out the safest route, and stored my change of clothes at work in advance. I was planning to do this on National Ride Your Bike to Work Day a couple weeks ago, but when the day came it was raining, and I am not that hard core, yet.

I didn't break any speed records traveling about 7.5 miles in 45 minutes, but it was fun. While I found a good route and will do it more frequently in the future, it was not as nice as riding on the W&OD Trail.

The W&OD Trail stretches 45 miles from Shirlington to Purcellville, and since it is a former rail road, the grades are never too steep. It is estimated that the W&OD sees over 2 million users per year. We know an increasing number of people over the last few years have been using this wonderful trail to commute to and from work. With the price of gas continuing to go up, and a greater understanding of the need to reduce our carbon footprint to help address the causes of global warming, I am sure more and more people are going to be biking instead of driving. Besides all the other reasons, biking is both fun and very good exercise.

Friday, May 16, 2008

NVRPA Endorses Leave No Child Inside Legislation

On May 15th, the Board of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority endorsed the Leave No Child Inside legislation sponsored by Congressman John Sarbanes (HR 3036).

This legislation would authorize funding for States to develop "environmental literacy plans" for K-12 primary education. The hope is that this would help bring more outdoor environmental education into the curriculum. On of the shortfalls of the Leave No Child Behind law is that it has driven school district to increasingly "teach the test" for the LNCB standards. One result of this has been less time for children to have environmental education and get outside the classroom.

This dynamic has been combined with a growing fear of strangers, fear of nature, and over structuring of children's "free time" to a point that children today are spending less and less time outdoor. Richard Louv outlines all of these factors in his best selling book Last Child in the Woods.

While the Leave No Child Inside legislation will not address all of these societal issues, it is a good step in the right direction, and might start the process of reengaging children with nature.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Popularity of Kayaking is Exploding

As the weather warms up it is time to come out of winter hibernation and get outdoors. One way that more and more people in our area are exploring our great Regional Parks is through kayaking.

Between 2006 and 2007 we saw a 41% increase in canoe and kayak rentals at Pohick Bay Regional Park and Fountainhead Regional Park. At Fountainhead alone there was an increase of over 100% in kayak rentals!

Why are so many people taking up the paddle and exploring nature? One reason is that paddling a recreational kayak like we rent at Pohick and Fountainhead is very easy. These boats are made for novices and they are very stable, comfortable and easy to operate. I am a certified instructor in Sea Kayaking and know like with many things, the more you get into a subject the more there is to learn. The great thing about kayaking is if you want to give it a try for the first time it is not difficult to start.

One of the best ways to find out if kayaking is for you is to rent a boat and go out for a couple hours. If you decide you would like to buy a boat, REI offers an annual Demo Day at Pohick Bay in July, were you can try out many different makes and models and see what is the best fit for you. One of the other interesting thinks about kayaking is that it is for all ages. I recently saw an on-line survey on Canoe & Kayak Magazine where they asked how old were you when you started paddling, and it was interesting to see the wide spread of ages.

I find a few hours on the water to be one of the most peaceful and stress relieving things I can do. If you would like to try paddling as a way to re-connect with nature and get a little exercise head to Fountainhead or Pohick Bay Parks and take out one of our rental boats. It is highly recommended that you go paddling with a friend. As a general rule if the combined air and water temperature is above 120 degrees, you are not at high risk of hypothermia if you should get wet. But anytime you get in any small boat, you need to be prepared to get wet. It is much better to not ware cotton since it wicks away warmth if it gets wet.

So, get a friend, rent a boat and have some fun this summer!! You will love it!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Reducing Global Warming - Saving Energy

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has followed the lead of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Arlington County Board, and City of Alexandria in adopting the Cool Counties/Cool Cities pledge to reduce greenhouse gases. This pledge fit in well with the comprehensive energy conservation efforts NVRPA put in place in late 2005. As a result of these efforts NVRPA was able to reduce it's "carbon footpring" in 2007.

Below are some key elements of this successful program:

Measure Everything
If meaningful goal are going to be set and achieved, one must have a baseline to measure against. The Finance Office at NVRPA now does more than just paying the utility bills, each month they log in the units of consumption (gallons, kilowatt/hr, etc.) for each of the 21 parks and facilities in the Authority. Spreadsheets convert each unit of consumption into tons of carbon (CO2). Now, emissions can be measured at each facility and across every form of energy.

Set a Goal
When the energy conservation policy was adopted by the Park Authority Board, an annual goal was set to reduce energy consumption by 5% across. By signing on to the Cool Counties Initiative, the Board agreed to stop increasing carbon emissions by 2010 and then reduce the output of carbon by 2% per year for every year after that until 2050 (resulting in an 80% reduction). In the first full year of the effort, total carbon emissions were reduced well ahead of the Cool Counties goal.

Establish Site Specific Plans
As important as the big goals of total carbon reduction are, what really makes a difference are the site specific plans. Each park manager had a management goal of completing and implementing an energy conservation plan for their facility. These plans included looking at many of the simple energy conservation measures as well as looking to larger changes for the future. A tremendous amount of energy efficiency can be accomplished with easy to find products from the local home improvement store like: insulation, high efficiency lighting, programmable thermostats and motion sensing light switches. Many people think the answer will come from some great new technology, like hydrogen fuel cells. New technologies will clearly play a big role in the future, but it is important not to miss the low hanging fruit that simple energy conservation can give us today. Currently, NVRPA has implemented the following emission reducing tactics:

  • High efficiency lighting including motion sensing switches.

  • Programmable thermostats

  • Retrofitting buildings with better windows and insulation

  • Use of high efficiency pumps

  • Geo-thermal heat pumps

  • Green building techniques

  • Active solar power generation

  • Introduction of more electric utility vehicles in the parks

  • Hybrid and natural gas (CNG) burning vehicles

    Look at Lifecycle Costs
    In the world of government purchasing, low bids usually win the day. In an era of changing technology to improve energy efficiency, it is vital to consider the life cycle costs of products. From compact florescent lighting that costs more than traditional incandescent bulbs but have a much longer life and uses a fraction of the power, to whole buildings that can now be built with green technology that may cost more initially but results in energy savings for the life of the structure, the long-term view is critical. The principle of considering the full life cycle costs of any energy consuming equipment or facility was part of the Park Authority’s energy conservation policy.

    In 2006, the Park Authority decided to put in place a 2.5 mile holiday light show at Bull Run Regional Park, responding to public support for a show to replace one offered by a contractor for many years. The Authority asked for proposals for both incandescent lights as well as LED lights and then decided to purchase the first all-LED light show of its size in the country, even though its initial purchase cost was higher than traditional incandescent lights would have been. The durability of the LED lights means significantly lower maintenance costs, they last much longer and use just 10% of the energy that it takes to light a traditional bulb. These factors will more than make up for the difference in the purchase price in just a few years.

    Reward Success
    To reward the best efforts in energy conservation and emissions reductions, NVRPA added an award to their annual achievement awards to recognize the park facility that produced the greatest reduction in energy consumption. In 2006, the prize went to Brambleton Regional Golf Course for reducing the electrical consumption in the Clubhouse by 27%. In 2007 the award went to Cameron Run Regional Park which reduced their energy consumption by almost 21%.

    Educate the Public
    The Authority hosted an Energy Conservation Fair at Potomac Overlook Regional Park to help educate the public about what they can do to use less fossil fuel. This is only one example of the many programs the agency has put forth to better engage the public on not only the Park Authority’s efforts, but the opportunity that each member of society has as well. Informing the public of an agency’s energy conservation efforts is almost as important as the efforts themselves, since this can encourage others to do their part. We would like to see some level of environmental education be a part of every park visitor’s outdoor recreational experience.

Building on these successful efforts, we are working to develop new energy education exhibits to be used at Potomac Overlook Regional Park in the next year.

Regional Parks Show Environmental Leadership

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has been amoung the first in the park field to lead on a number of envirnmental issues.

  • In late 2007 NVRPA was the first park agency in the nation to sign on to Cool Counties or Cool Cities. These are initatives to reduce greenhouse gases.

  • NVRPA is the first and currently only public park agency in the Mid-Atlantic states to get their golf courses certified by Audubon International as wildlife sanctuaries. This was an extensive year long process to achieve environmental excellence is a wide number of areas.

  • Most recently NVRPA became the first park agency to become a partner with the EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program. This partnership grew out of NVRPA's cutting edge fertizer and pesticide use policy that goes far beyond what is required by law.

As the stewards of over 10,000 acres of land, most of it along the major waterways of our region, it is critcally important that we lead by example, in these and other evironmental concerns.

Environmental Leadership Links:

  • NVRPA is the first park agency to sign on to Cool Cities, and Cool Counties agreement to reduce carbon footprint.

  • NVRPA is the first park agency to sign on to EPA's Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program.

  • Setting a Green Example: Washington Post Article about NVRPA's energy conservation efforts.

  • You Tube video of the largest all LED holiday light show in the world at Bull Run Regional Park.

  • All three NVRPA golf courses are certified Wildlife Sancuaries by Audubon International.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Employee Achievement Awards

Again this year we recognized some of the employees that went far beyond their basic job and achieved great things. Every year for the last three years we have had this awards program. These individuals were nominated by their co-workers and selected by a cross-functional committee of NVRPA employees out of a great field of nominees.

2007 Employee Achievement Awards

Anthony (Tony) Blevins

In the category of Safety, Tony and his staff have a perfect record for 2007. Tony consistently places a high priority on the public’s health and safety. His considerable knowledge was instrumental in the development of the NVRPA Pesticide and Fertilizer Use policy, which will improve the health and safety of all NVRPA parks.

Benjamin (Ben) Bilko

In the category of Safety, Ben has brought a determined focus on aquatic safety to Cameron Run. Under his leadership, the lifeguard staff at Cameron Run achieved their highest rating from NASCO. Ben has taken a hands-on approach to his job, working with customers and staff to create an atmosphere of safety for everyone.

Daryl Adams

In the categories of Safety and Cost Savings, Daryl has developed a preventive maintenance program for all Park Authority fleet vehicles. He has also gone into great detail in correcting any safety problems with the Park Authority fleet, minimizing the likelihood of any accidents. The maintenance program will save the Park Authority money in the long term and improve safety for NVRPA staff.

John (Matt) Woods

In the categories of Programming and Above-and-Beyond, Matt created new interpretive trails for Ball’s Bluff Battlefield. He also worked with volunteers and graphic artists to create a series of new interpretive signs that tell the story of the battle with much more detail and accuracy. Matt also developed a detailed map of the trail. All of this was done in addition to Matt’s duties at Temple Hall Farm, and included a considerable amount of Matt’s personal time.

Richard Bailey

In the categories of Innovation and Programming, Rich planned, coordinated and implemented the development of a wall-sized educational mural in the nature center auditorium. He worked with the Arlington Alliance to get volunteers to draw the template for the mural. He also created a wall-sized mosaic of the earth and the moon on the outside of the nature center. Rich has organized field trips for the Junior Naturalist camp, including a trip to property owned by his parents on the Chesapeake Bay, culminating in rave reviews as well as a number of new and/or improved programs for different age groups.

Bryan McFerren

In the categories of Cost Savings and Innovation, Bryan changed the fairway turf at Algonkian Golf Course to Bermuda grass. This change will significantly reduce the chemicals and maintenance needed on the fairways. The result of this change is an improved golf course, less environmental impact, and tens of thousands of dollars in annual cost savings. Bryan also achieved the “Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Certification” for Brambleton and Algonkian Golf Courses. This accomplishment makes NVRPA the only park agency to achieve this level of environmental excellence in the mid-Atlantic states.

John Moore

In the categories of Versatility and Above-and-Beyond, John has shown a wonderful “can do” attitude. John has also shown great leadership in making improvements to Temple Hall’s Corn Maze. John was instrumental in working with the extension service to support “Ag Day” at Temple Hall, an event that educated over 800 children about agriculture. He works during his off-hours with the Loudoun County Fair Board and the Loudoun County 4-H program. John lives at Temple Hall Farm, which requires him to be on call 24 hours.

Alan Marshall

In the category of Versatility, Alan has stepped in whenever needed to maintain the equipment at Algonkian Golf Course, even though he was not hired as a mechanic. Alan has voluntarily taken on this task, which in turn has saved money because of less down time. Alan has also taken the time to create a service plan worksheet for all maintenance equipment at Algonkian, which helps with preventative maintenance. This service also prolongs the overall life of the equipment fleet at Algonkian.

Robert Croson

In the category of Versatility, Robert is the gardener for Brambleton Golf Course, but serves in many other capacities. Robert demonstrated his carpenter abilities by building a new staircase leading up to a forward tee at Brambleton. Because of the new stairs, golfers can safely proceed up and down from the tee during all types of weather.

Chris Marshall

In the category of Versatility, Chris has taken great initiative in obtaining certifications and in learning and performing all aspects of equipment repair. Chris has been with the Park Authority less than two (2) years and is now a Certified Chemical Applicator Technician. Chris is the first park maintenance worker to earn this certification, which helps free time for staff supervisors to perform other tasks. Chris has also learned how to make repairs to the irrigation system and to the mowing equipment.

Mark Brooks

In the categories of Versatility and Innovation, Mark fabricated and designed the surf- board signs, which helped the Cameron Run Pool concession be as successful as it was last year. Mark’s contribution was key to making the Holiday Village a success this year by using his great skills to make our yurts meet fire code and also have central heat. Santa could not have done his job this year, if Mark had not been such a skilled and creative carpenter.

Jonelle Bailey

In the category of Versatility, Jonelle led numerous improvements at the Bull Run Special Events Center including revised applications and contracts, and redesigned the Holiday Village. Jonelle has also updated all of Bull Run’s forms, and all of this while learning an entire new park system and providing exceptional customer service.

Everett (Jack) Shepherd

In the categories of Team Player and Above-and-Beyond, Jack saw the potential and took the initiative to create a scenic overlook at Occoquan Regional Park. Jack often comes in on his days off to check on projects or to help out with special events at the park. Jack also helps the new Rangers and teaches them about proper work ethics. Jack truly has a special passion for Occoquan Regional Park that benefits all members of the public who use this park.

Doug Radoye

In the category of Team Player, Doug exemplifies the best qualities of someone who helps others. Doug has shown great initiative in identifying and solving electrical problems throughout the NVRPA system. In 2006 and 2007, Doug’s contribution was key to the success of the Bull Run Light Show, making sure we had power everywhere we needed it for the light displays and Holiday Village.

Susan Chidakel

In the categories of Team Player and Above-and-Beyond, Susan has helped all parks and departments with her great service to internal customers. Over the last couple of years, the budget process has changed substantially and has become much more transparent, user friendly and useful. Throughout these changes, Susan has worked to communicate with park managers, made sure all the changes were well understood, and also ensured that the information in the budgets was presented in a manner that was helpful to managers.

Thomas (Tom) Carr

In the category of Team Player, Tom has been instrumental in the many operational changes to how the Brambleton Golf Course is being maintained. Tom’s knowledge and expertise have played a critical role in the many improvements to the Brambleton Golf Course over the last year.

David Langhorne

In the category of Team Player, Dave has shown great skills in repairing equipment, advising others on what equipment to purchase in the future, and applying his knowledge to a wide variety of other issues. Dave has regularly gone beyond his job as a mechanic and used his skills and expertise on very concrete projects at Central Maintenance.

Derric Bolton

In the category of Team Player, Derric works tirelessly to ensure that our pools and parks are safe operations for the public and staff. Derric was instrumental in developing a new Pesticide and Fertilizer Use Policy for NVRPA that positions our agency as a national environmental leader. Derric assists every park with a wide range of operational issues, making him one of our most significant team players.

Cynthia (Cindy) Hudson

In the category of Above-and-Beyond, Cindy continues to provide outstanding customer service to staff. She manages every conceivable human resource issue, and is dedicated to helping all staff understand the full range of benefits and options available to them. In 2007, Cindy researched and implemented a health savings plan, which will provide a new and valuable benefit to many employees. She has also worked closely with the Human Resources Committee of the Park Authority Board to develop and review a wide variety of human resource policies and to ensure NVRPA’s policies represent the best current views on these subjects.

David (Dave) Fellers

In the category of Above-and-Beyond, Dave continues to make great contributions to the public with his stewardship of the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail. He builds bridges and water bars, clears fallen trees, installs and maintains trail signs and removes trash along this 17.5-mile trail. He often spends his personal time dealing with all sorts of trail matters, and he does all of this so that the public can enjoy the true beauty of nature.

Rebecca (Becky) Reynaldo

In the category of Above-and-Beyond, Becky has proven her extraordinary skills over and over in the oversight of NVRPA’s finances. Becky’s attention to detail has been a major factor in the clean audits and complimentary comments the Authority has received from the auditors over the last few years.

Kathryn (Kate) Irwin

In the categories of Innovation and Customer Service, Kate has shown great leadership in initiating and running a recycling program for the whole agency, dealing with printer cartridges and cell phones. She was also instrumental in setting up the paper, plastic and metal recycling program at Pohick Bay Golf Course. These programs significantly reduced the waste in our park and go a long way towards making Pohick Bay Golf Course, and NVRPA as a whole, a greener operations facility. Kate’s environmentalism has also extended to the outreach and education efforts that are part of the Audubon International Certification for Pohick Bay Golf Course.

Jake Bumbrey

In the Customer Service category, Jake provides great service to all our parks by helping the staff manage a wide range of construction contracts. Jake provides this valuable service with great good will and a “can do” attitude. In 2007, Jake was instrumental in overseeing a number of critical contracts that needed to be done to have another successful Light Show and Holiday Village at Bull Run Special Events Center. Jake makes sure NVRPA receives a good value from our contractors, and that the park staff is satisfied with the end product.

Kelly Weddington

In the category of Customer Service, Kelly has made dealing with the public a specialty that she excels at. While at Headquarters working as the Receptionist/Reservationist, Kelly handled an enormous volume of calls from the public, while helping to implement and start the use of a new website and reservation system. Kelly’s outstanding example of excellent customer service contributed to her promotion to Park Ranger at Temple Hall Farm, where she has already made great contributions.

James (Jim) Short

In the category of Customer Service, Jim has dedicated himself to improving the experience for all users at Sandy Run. His supervision of the regattas at Sandy Run has received numerous compliments from the general public and rowing community. When faced with challenges, Jim has consistently worked with those members of the public in a professional and polite manner until their issue was resolved, providing a model for all those around him to follow.

Katherine (Kathy) Brooks

In the category of Customer Service, Kathy serves a vital role in assisting our internal park operations customers. She handles a very large number of public contacts and internal issues and does so in a very helpful and courteous manner. Kathy takes great pride in her responsibilities and carries them out skillfully and with great efficiency.

MVP (2)


Dennis Charlton has forever changed the way we look at food service in our parks, from a low priority snack bar to a central, value-added service we can provide our customers. Dennis saved the Authority over $100,000 in the first few months of work by renegotiating contracts. Through his leadership, both the quality and profitability of our food service operations have dramatically improved. Just at Cameron Run, Dennis increased food sales by 38% during the summer of 2007. The dynamic team of Dennis Charlton and Scott Boger helped make 2007 one of the most successful years in NVRPA’s history.


For having such a positive and “can do” attitude in whatever he was working on, Scott Boger set a great example for all those he worked with. Scott has set a new high bar for customer service, far exceeding the expectations of our customers at Cameron Run, Temple Hall Farm, the Bull Run Light Show and everywhere else he worked. The dynamic team of Scott Boger and Dennis Charlton helped make 2007 one of the most successful years in NVRPA’s history.



Applying his 34 years of experience in park operations, Paul has helped transform the Park Authority in a very profound way. In his role as Director of Operations, he listens to and coaches Park Managers, his two Superintendents and other staff members. There is probably not an employee at NVRPA, who has not benefited from Paul’s knowledge and wisdom in some way. During the last several years, Paul has fostered a renewed entrepreneurial spirit at our organization. From the Holiday Light Show at Bull Run to the theming and marketing of our pools and water parks, Paul has played a major role in making our facilities more popular than ever before. In 2007, no one has contributed more to the success of NVRPA than Paul McCray.