Friends of 
Mason Neck State Park

December 2018 Newsletter

27 Nov 2018 7:57 AM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

December 2018 Newsletter

Register for Swanfall 2018

Before It’s Too Late! 

There are only a few spaces left for Swanfall 2018, the Friends of Mason Neck State Park’s annual holiday party.  The Friends will gather at the Jammes House, a former lodge that is normally closed to visitors, at 2 PM on Sunday December 2. 

You can enjoy a delicious light buffet in the Jammes House, which will be decorated for the holidays, followed by a presentation by Ashley Kennedy on “What Birds Eat.”  Ashley is a PhD candidate at Delaware State University who studies the insects birds eat in order to gain a better understanding of what insects and habitats are most beneficial to birds. You can enjoy her fascinating videos of birds bringing food to their young as you learn how you can make your property more bird-friendly. 

Swanfall is open only to current members of the Friends.  If you’re not a member you can join for as little as $20 per year here.  Once you're a member, you can register for Swanfall for yourself and one guest, for $10 per person, at Swanfall 2018.  Your registration entitles you to free admission to the Park on that day. 

Register now! There were only 11 spaces left when this newsletter went to print, and this event always sells out.

Friends of Mason Neck State Park

Participate in the

Mount Vernon Environment Expo

The Friends participated in the Mount Vernon Environment Expo at Walt Whitman Middle School on November 10.  More than 20 exhibitors participated in the event, providing information on how to help protect and improve our environment.  The event, which was organized by the Environmental Advisory Committee of Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, also included workshops and presentations on reducing greenhouse gases, landscaping for wildlife and tree planting and care. 

The Friends of Mason Neck State Park provided information about the Park, their efforts to reduce the use of disposable plastic water bottles and the importance of reducing amount of the trash that ends up in our rivers. 


Focus on Mason Neck State Park:

Ariel Hartman

Have you noticed a new face at the Park lately? It’s Ariel Hartman, Mason Neck State Park’s Assistant Park Manager. 

Ariel joined the Park staff several months ago, but she went off for 22 weeks of law enforcement training.  She’s back now, and ready to make your experience at the Park as enjoyable as possible. 

Ariel has a Bachelor of Science degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism, and a Master of Science degree in Recreation Services and Interventions (recreational therapy).  After graduation she taught Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Southwest Virginia Community College for two years before joining the Park staff.  She is perfectly suited to take on her principal passion, which is teaching young people to enjoy nature through outdoor educational programs.  She oversees the Park’s interpretive staff, as well as leading programs herself. 

Ariel has numerous other tasks at the Park, including law enforcement activities, patrolling the park’s roads and trails, and the inevitable administrative work.  Next time you’re at the Park, keep an eye out for Ariel and give her a big welcoming “hello.” 

Smithsonian Associates Hike

at Mason Neck State Park

The Smithsonian Associates’ Nature, History, and Art in Fairfax Countyprogram brought a group of 36 people to the Park on November 3.  The program was led by Rachel Cooper and Renee Sklarew, authors of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington, D.C.  In preparation for their hike, which included parts of the Bayview, Wilson Spring, and Kane’s Creek trails, the leaders reached out to the Friends to get insight into some of our personal experiences in the Park.

The Friends greeted the hikers upon arrival, providing them with refreshments and information about our mission.  Several Friends members joined the hike and talked about our commitment to the Park and shared stories about the Park.  Park naturalist Elizabeth Thakkar described the Park’s natural features as the group walked from the shoreline to the marsh and through the woods.  

First Day Hikes at the Park

Mason Neck State Park invites you to start the year off with an invigorating hike in a beautiful location on January 1. The Park has 9 trails from .16 miles to 3.0 miles in length, all rated at no more than moderate difficulty. All feature the opportunity to see some wildlife and winter wonderment. The Park is offering three guided hikes: At 10 a.m. is a 3.5 mile hike of moderate difficulty but at an easy pace. This hike includes our Kane's Creek and Eagle Spur Trails.  At 11 a.m. there's a fast-paced, heart pumping hike incorporating several trails that will cover 5.5 miles. This hike includes our Kane's Creek, Dogue, Meadow View, Wilson Spring, and Bay View Trails.  At 3 p.m. is a leisurely stroll on the Bay View Trail covering 1.0 miles and at an easy pace.

Of course you are always welcome to hike on your own any time that day or any other day when the Park is open.  Mason Neck is a dog friendly park! You must have your four-legged friend on a leash at all times.

Parking fees are waived for January 1. The first 100 visitors will receive a First Day Hikes bumper sticker. And you can also participate in the Virginia State Parks New Year Challenge or Photo Contest.  The top prize for each contest is a $500 gift certificate.  You can find out more about the contests at First Day Contests.  

Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park and Help Support the Park!

We would love to have you join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park!  Memberships fund the many Park activities we support each year.  And for as little as $20 per year, you will enjoy monthly newsletters, emails about special events and priority registration for special events such as our members-only Owl Moon in September, and Swanfall in December, and other activities during the year. You can sign up right here:  

Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park  

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