Friday, May 23, 2014

Tree Planting to Improve Parkland

New trees at Occoquan Regional Park
Spring is here and we have been busy planting trees! 800 new trees this month to be exact, and most of them along major rivers. The area next to the water is call the "riparian" zone. And this area is where the most ecological benefits can be gains from planting a buffer. The wooded buffer filters the water after it rains, and holds the soil in, so it does not wash away. This riparian zone is also key wildlife habitat for many animals.

This spring our 800 new trees went in at Bull Run Regional Park, Algonkian Regional Park, and Occoquan Regional Park, all of which are on major rivers.

The Strategic Plan for NOVA Parks calls for us to "enhance natural resource conservation in riparian areas." Last year we planted several thousand trees at White's Ford Regional Park. In the coming years we will continue this effort to improve the ecological value of our parkland near the water.

Groups that helped plant these trees included Potomac Heritage Trail Association, Sterling Rotary Club, Cascades HOA and local Boy Scouts.

Tree Planting at Algonkian Regional Park

Monday, May 19, 2014

Remarkable deal on Parkland for the Public

One of the great bargains of living in Northern Virginia is that you get wonderful destination parks offered by NOVA Parks (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) for a bargain. The tax dollar cost per person for this system of 25 unique and iconic parks (over 11,000 acres) is just $1.89 per year.

One of the keys to this remarkable deal is that through enterprise operations we are able to generate 85% of our operating revenues! Below is a chart that was published in the May issue of Park and Recreation Magazine. The column that is called "Spending per Resident" is the one that compares to our unusual $1.89 per person per year, tax support.

NOVA Parks is truly unique in the deal that we provide the public. Local park systems in the Northern Virginia area range from $27.5 to $179.2 in their tax dollars per person per year.

Part of the difference between these system is how extensive they are. It is no surprise that a simple system can be at a lower cost than a fancy system. But that is not the entire issue. NOVA Parks has some of the best and most iconic parks in the nation, places like the W&OD Trail, Meadowlark Gardens, Bull Run, Algonkian, Carlyle House and much, much more.The other issue is how the agency has structured their funding. In some areas free services are seen as a great virtue and that is an OK choice, but leads to a higher level of tax support. Offering value added services that people can choose to do with they want, is another way. At NOVA Parks 90+% of our parkland is free to the public, but beyond just the land, there are things to do that have reasonable fees connected to them. By offering a good value for these extra services, these offerings are very popular, and drive more visitation. This approach helps make an expanding park system available to the public with a low level of taxpayer support. A win-win solution in many ways.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Korean Bell Garden, Unique in Western Hemiphere

This Saturday, May 10, 2014 we celebrate the second anniversary of the completion of the Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna. From 11:00 - 12:00 we will have music, speakers, and food that highlights some of the best elements of Korean culture. Some of the interesting facts about the Korean Bell Garden are:
·         All the structures were built by hand by artists from Korea.
·         The bell pavilion has virtually no nails or screws in it. Every piece was carved to fit together perfectly.
·         Large bells like this are common in many Asian countries with differences in how they are made. Korean Bells have an acoustic tube cast into the top to give them a unique sound.
·         This bell was cast in the Gyeonggi Province of Korea. Governor Kim from Gyeonggi Province recently visited the Bell Garden.
·         This bell is one of a kind with nature images from both Korea and Virginia cast into it. The Cardinal and Dogwood are both cast into the bell.
·         This bell  garden is unique in the Western Hemisphere. There is a Korean Bell in California, and another in Vancouver CA, but no other with a complete setting around it.
·         The whole Korean Bell Garden was built without any local tax funds. Community leaders raise the money primarily from private donors with help from both Gyeonggi Province, and the Republic of Korea.
·         From 2007 – 2012 the Korean American Cultural Committee  raised the money and oversaw the development of the garden.