Every Week is Pollinator Week for Parks

Huntley RestorationJune 19-June 25, 2017, is National Pollinator Week — a chance to learn about the importance of pollinators.

The Park Authority’s work with and for pollinators includes the preservation, management and restoration of natural habitat as well as the monitoring of wildlife that use the habitat. We’ve established demonstration sites and waystations that support pollinators, and we provide interpretation, education and outreach activities through our nature centers and parks. One example of that outreach is this blog.

Parks have diverse habitats that benefit pollinators, including about 18,000 acres of forest habitat. Those forests are in various stages of growth, which means they host varied groups of wildlife that depend on these changing, growing woods. Parks also have approximately 1,572 acres of non-forested, undeveloped habitats that include meadows and shrub land. That’s more variety for more species that rely on those types of habitats.

Burn 1Parks that include areas with actively managed habitats include Huntley Meadows, Ellanor C. Lawrence, Riverbend, Poplar Ford, and Laurel Hill along with Elklick Natural Area Preserve and Marie Butler Levin Preserve. There are also dozens of sites that fall under the watchful eye of our Invasive Management Area program.

Habitat restoration projects have taken place recently at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park (ECLP), Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Huntley Meadows, Great Falls Nike Park, Kings Park West, Wakefield Run Stream Valley, Flatlick, Schneider Branch and Laurel Hill. Most notable among that list is the massive wetlands restoration at Huntley Meadows.

beekeeping ECLPollinator demonstration sites have been established at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Hidden Pond Nature Center, Huntley Meadows Park, Riverbend Park, Green Spring Gardens, and at the John C. and Margaret K. White Horticultural Park. Many sites host waystations, including Hidden Oaks Nature Center, the Packard Center, Mason District Park and ECLP.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center has led the way in a monarch butterfly tagging and population monitoring program. Monarch populations have been declining because of a loss of habitat, and these efforts will help Fairfax County do its part in reversing that loss. MonarchTagging has been taking place since 1996, and three to nine tagging sessions are held annually. Public involvement in those is welcome. Green Spring Gardens and some libraries and schools have joined that effort. We’ve been raising and releasing monarchs since 2005 in partnership with Monarch Watch and volunteers. Parks also have helped Fairfax County Public Schools develop a curriculum for raising monarch butterflies.

Dozens of pollinator interpretation classes are hosted by Park Authority parks for people from preschool to adult. Your local nature center will have information about them. Other education efforts revolve around school field trips. Pollination and pollinators are part of the Virginia standards of learning for second through fourth grades, and those units are presented at nature centers. Among the topics covered are insects, ecosystems, and plants.

Dozens of stewardship brochures that help county residents understand aspects of nature are available at parks and other county offices. They’re also online. Brochures specific to pollination include those titled Pollen, Native Backyard Plants, and Bees.

If you want more information about Park Authority efforts to protect pollinators and all they do for us, you’ll find it on our natural resources web pages.

Author David Ochs is the Manager of Stewardship Communications for the Resource Management Division of the Fairfax County Park Authority.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 11 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2008. Another Park Bond Referendum will be held in November 2012. Today, the Park Authority has 420 parks on approximately 23,168 acres of land. We offer 371 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park System is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: o Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist. o Eight golf courses including Laurel Hill, our newest, upscale course and clubhouse located in Southern Fairfax County o Five nature and visitor centers. Also seven Off-Leash Dog Activity areas o Several lakes including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax o The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter o Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel o An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter o Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel o Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent o A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly o A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale o Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community o Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center o Provides 274 athletic fields, including 30 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 500 school athletic fields PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: • A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

One thought on “Every Week is Pollinator Week for Parks

  1. Kim Scudera

    Don’t forget the pollinator garden at Frying Pan Farm Park, which helps to tell the story of how important pollinators are to agriculture. The garden is a project sponsored and maintained by Fairfax Master Naturalists, with support from the Potowmack chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, Earth Sangha, and FCPA. School groups, Girl Scouts, and Frying Pan campers have all benefited from interpretive programs at the garden.

    Reply

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