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21 Mar 2020 2:00 PM • Jammes House, Mason Neck State Park





   

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Join Us for a Program on

Creating a Wildlife Sanctuary on Your Property


Photo by Toni Genberg


What can you do on your own property to attract and support wildlife?


To learn how, join us at Mason Neck State Park’s Jammes House for a presentation on Saturday, March 21: “Creating a Wildlife Sanctuary on Your Property: The Audubon at Home Program.”


Betsy Martin will talk about the Audubon at Home program and Wildlife Sanctuary certification and will explain Habitat Best Practices. Betsy is the Fairfax County Coordinator of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia's Audubon at Home program. 


Laura Beaty will relate how she transformed her yard into a wildlife habitat with a slide program entitled: “Your Landscape as Habitat.” She will show how to support nature’s relationships in your wildlife habitat, and why it’s important to view your habitat from two perspectives: the eyes of turf-grass traditionalists and native pollinators. She’ll show you the truth behind the phrases, “The greater the plant diversity the greater the wildlife” and “Plant it and they will come.” Laura is Horticulture Chair of the Virginia Native Plant Society and represents her Fairfax County district on the Fairfax County Tree Commission.


This program is cosponsored by the Friends of Mason Neck State Park and The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia.


Registrants for the program have free admission to the park starting at 1:00 p.m. on March 21 and we’ll have light refreshments for you to enjoy.

This is a free program, but registration is required.  You can register at  Create a Wildlife Sanctuary



HELP!!  Our Park Faces Serious Challenges!


Ten years ago, facing a budget shortfall, the Governor of Virginia decided to CLOSE Mason Neck State Park.  Supporters of the Park sprang into action, and fortunately we were successful in getting that decision reversed.


Here we are, ten years later and – despite a budget SURPLUS – serious cuts in Virginia’s financial support are again threatening Mason Neck State Park.  The Park’s operating budget was cut in 2019 and is expected to be cut again for 2020.  





Additionally, the Park has been informed that the position of Assistant Park Manager, which Ariel Hartman filled so capably, will not be funded after she leaves in January. 





This will leave the Park with only 4 full-time staff members in 2020, compared to the 11 called for in the most recent (2017) Park Master Plan adopted by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.  To make this severe staffing shortage even worse, one of the 4 staff members will require 7 months of training in 2020, including more than 5 months away from the Park. 



Lack of reliable cellular communication and internet service in the Park creates significant additional management, law enforcement, and public safety burden and risk for the few remaining staff responsible for the Park’s 1,814 acres.




What does this funding crisis mean for you and other Park visitors? Have you noticed that there is frequently no one in the contact station to collect the admission fees the Park needs to support its programs and staff?  Have you come to the Visitor Center, only to leave in disappointment after seeing a CLOSED sign on the door? 


      


Must Mason Neck State Park visitors make do with fewer interpreters, less educational programming, and sporadic trail maintenance, while other Virginia parks enjoy increased budget and staffing?  Will Park staff even be able to support the annual Eagle Festival in 2020?


Friends of Mason Neck State Park are currently volunteering in the Visitor Center and in other capacities to help offset the staffing shortfall, but increased reliance on volunteers is not a sustainable or acceptable solution.  Mason Neck State Park needs more financial support in Virginia’s budget!


Our State Delegate, Kathy Tran and State Senator, Scott Surovell have each introduced three budget amendments in support of these requests. In January, Friends of Mason Neck State Park President Hillary Clawson testified in support of these amendments on behalf of the Friends.  The proposed amendments have now crossed over from the House to the Senate and there is still time to ask members of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee for their support. Please let your legislators know that you want Mason Neck State Park to remain open and fully operational.  The names and contact information for key legislators are listed below.  E-mail is good, and old-fashioned “snail mail” (you know – and envelope and stamp) may be even better!  Specifically, please ask for:

  •          Funding for the Assistant Park Manager position;
  •          Funding for the 6 additional positions specified in the Master Plan – Rangers and Educational Specialists;
  •          Funding for part-time staff to cover critical vacancies during full-time staff training and off-site duties; and
  •          Funding for technology improvements to provide adequate wireless communications in the Park.

Please write to:


Senator George Barker, District39@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Creigh Deeds, District25@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Adam Ebbin, District30@senate.virginia.gov

Senator John Edwards, District21@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Emmett Hanger, Jr., District24@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Mamie Locke, District02@senate.virginia.gov

Senator L. Louise Lucas, District18@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Dave Marsden, District37@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Jennifer McClellan, District09@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Steve Newman, District23@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Tommy Norment, District03@senate.virginia.gov

Senator J. Chapman Petersen, District34@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Frank Ruff, District15@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Richard Saslaw, District35@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Jill Vogel, District27@senate.virginia.gov

Senator Scott Surovell, District36@senate.virginia.gov



Time is of the essence!  Please write now!


THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING UP FOR MASON NECK STATE PARK!


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Friends of Mason Neck State Park

Join the Fight Against Disposable Plastic


The Friends of Mason Neck State Park are doing their part to slow the production and disposal of plastics.  Plastic bottles take as long as 450 years to decompose in the environment.  Before they do, they break down into "micro-plastic" bits that are eaten by animals and can end up in our own bodies.  On land, plastic adversely affects soil fertility, and can choke our streams and rivers.




The Friends of Mason Neck State Park have stopped offering disposable water bottles to Park volunteers and at Friends events.  Instead, they are offering free multi-use bottles that recipients can take home with them.  Hopefully, people will use these bottles instead of buying more disposable ones.  


Mason Neck State Park also is committed to reducing the use of disposable plastic bottles and has installed water bottle filling stations at the Visitor Center and the picnic area.  


         


Do your part too:  find ways to limit your use of disposable plastics, including those grocery store bags that have a typical useful life of 15 minutes -- the time to get from store to home -- and take 1000 years to decompose in a landfill.  



The Friends of Mason Neck State Park






The Friends of Mason Neck State Park is a Section 501(c)(3) organization that works to conserve, enhance, and interpret the Park's natural, educational, recreational, cultural and historic resources. We assist the Park Staff in implementing its programs and activities such as the annual Eagle Festival, shoreline cleanups, and outreach events.  We also sponsor special events such as our annual Owl Moon and Holiday Party, help guide canoe and kayaking trips and lead hikes.

               

            


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Mason Neck State Park 


Mason Neck State Park is located on the Mason Neck peninsula in southeastern Fairfax County, Virginia. The Park's wetlands, forest, water, ponds, and fields are home to a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, osprey, geese, ducks, swans, and other birds living on or near the Potomac River, Kane's Creek, and Belmont Bay. 


The Park has hiking trails, three miles of paved multi-use trails, a large picnic area, a playground, a car-top canoe and kayak launch, and a visitor center. Canoe, kayak, and bicycle rentals are available.


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