Earth Day started as an annual celebration in 1970. Interest in the day fell in the late 1970's and 1980's, and then it received a major boost with the 20th anniversary of the day in 1990, which featured large celebrations around the country. Hopefully since that time, Earth Day had transformed from a once a year event into a new way of looking at all of our actions throughout the year.
In public opinion polling the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority did in 2007 the public showed there interest in parks with the following results:
80% of the public used parks.
77% had a high need for trails.
The best way to spend public dollars to improve parks, was to buy more land for protection of natural areas.
A poll by the Trust for Public Land ( http://www.tpl.org/tier3_cd.cfm?content_item_id=14525&folder_id=186) a few years ago showed similar results which included:
84% of voters though it was "Very Important" to buy land to protect drinking water.
79% said "conservation issues" were very important to their voting.
In addition to offering great parks for the public to enjoy and reconnect with nature, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has been trying to set a good environmental example in what we do.
- NVRPA was the first park agency to adopt the Cool Counties/Cool Cities pledge to reduce greenhouse gasses. We now have energy conservation plan in place at each park and track our energy consumption and convert it to both btu and carbon emissions.
- NVRPA was the first park agency to have its golf courses certified as Wildlife Sanctuaries by Audubon International, an extensive year long effort.
- NVRPA has worked with the EPA and others to develop a cutting edge policy on fertilizer and pesticide use in all of our parks.
- NVRPA is working on our first LEED certified building, a visitor center for Temple Hall Farm Regional Park.
In a study we did of the organizational culture of the Regional Park Authority we found that an overwhelming majority of our employees have come to work here out of a love of the outdoors. The focus on the environment is rooting deep in the DNA of this organization. This love of nature started with the founding of the organization 50 years ago and the great conservationist like Walter Mess and Ira Gabrielson who founded it.
Ira Gabrielson, first Chief of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the first Chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is one of just 25 American to be inducted into the Conservation Hall of Fame.
Image of Dr. Ira Gabrielson releasing a duck