Spoiling Natural Resources

At the July 26, 2018, Urban Forestry Commission meeting somebody mentioned approvingly that NOVA Parks had referred to a natural resource inventory of the park in developing its plans. The natural resource inventory that most people refer to is one done in 2007 by Arlington County and given to NOVA Parks. A FOIA request to NOVA Parks led to a copy just arriving. NOVA Parks’ plan is contrary to the key recommendations of the inventory report, which say under Management Recommendations:

"Based on the data collected for this survey, and field observations at the site, the following natural resource management recommendations are offered.

      1. Tree Protection. Documented large trees at the site should be protected from future park development or redevelopment, including the construction of facilities and trails.
      2. Champion Trees. Documented champion trees should be periodically monitored for health and protected from development. It was noted by the field team that in at least two locations, park staff or contractors have stacked piles of vegetative debris close to the base of large trees, including the runner-up County Champion Pignut Hickory. Allowing heavy vehicles to drive within the drip-line (crown spread) of a tree can cause unseen damage to the root structure. It is recommended that a central debris collection site be established somewhere in the park in an already disturbed and open site.
      3. Protection for significant plant communities and rare plants / features. The Acidic Seepage Swamp and associated vegetation represent the most ecologically sensitive natural feature within the park. Two short-term threats are evident to the continued existence of the high quality remnant wetland — generalized invasive plant infestation and storm water erosion....

See the whole inventory report here and the accompanying maps. Selection of photos from report below.

NOVA Parks plans had called for cutting down large, mature trees to construct a new parking lot and road for the playground in the lower park. This area abuts the RPA that contains the acidic seepage swamp wetlands area, the most ecologically sensitive feature. Construction and storm water runoff could degrade it or even ruin this area. Its an idea that never should have been proposed in the first place. Tree cutting and major work on the playground area could still endanger this ecologically fragile area. Meanwhile, invasives are still out of control.