The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks) aims to ramp up efforts to eradicate invasive-species plants from its landholdings while also planting a significant number of trees in the coming years.
The policy positions are part of the multi-jurisdiction agency’s newly adopted strategic plan, covering the years 2023 to 2027.
The package puts its focus on “environmental excellence and a desire to be open and welcoming to everyone in our community,” board chair Cate Magennis Wyatt said.
The goal is “to set a national example of how public park agencies can reduce their impacts through energy conservation, growth in parkland and thoughtful land management,” the document declares.
On the invasive-species-management front, the authority aims to wrap up its work at Upton Hill Regional Park in Arlington and Occoquan Regional Park in Fairfax County, then begin accelerated efforts along the W&OD Regional Trail in 2024 while aiming to build partnerships that would result in “invasive-species volunteers” to aid efforts at four as-yet-undesignated parks.
At Upton Hill, an ongoing partnership between NOVA Parks and the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists (ARMN) works to enhance the natural plants within its 27 acres.
“Park visitors who know the difference between native and invasive plants will already see a difference, as the natural habitat has been significantly enhanced,” noted Jill Barker of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists during an April tour of the park. “We are thrilled with the partnership and progress over the last year.”
In 2018, NOVA Parks planted an open area with a mix of trees, shrubs and grasses that will grow into an oak/hickory forest. Removing invasive plants will allow the ecology of this area to mature into an area with healthy biodiversity over the coming century.
The strategic plan also calls for the planting of 50,000 new trees at regional parks over the coming four years.
The efforts will build on ongoing practices and relationships.
Created by a number of Northern Virginia governments six decades ago, NOVA Parks’ holdings have grown to include 34 regional parks and 12,335 acres of land spread across Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.
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The strategic plan is available for review at https://novaparks.com.