Friends of 
Mason Neck State Park


  • 23 Oct 2017 10:37 AM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    The Friends of Mason Neck State Park and other volunteers helped make the Park's annual Park After Dark event a success.  Volunteers were costumed characters for the childrens' Enchanted Forest walks, helped guide the Enchanted Forest walks and the No-Lights Night Hikes, told stories around the campfire and served cider and the ingredients for s'mores.

  • 02 Oct 2017 1:39 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    Twenty-four volunteers helped to clean up the Belmont Bay Shoreline for National Public Lands Day on September 30.  The Friends of Mason Neck State Park were on hand to help register the volunteers, hand out gloves, provide refreshments and water and coordinate the cleanup efforts.  Volunteers collected bottles, cans, styrofoam, plastic, and pieces of decking and planks that had washed up over the summer.  The cleanups, which are scheduled three times a year, are vital to maintaining the appearance of the Park and the health of the environment.

    Special thanks to eMotion Dance of Reston, whose ten volunteers were a big help in cleaning up the shoreline.  


  • 24 Sep 2017 4:48 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    Sixty-five people turned out for the Friends of Mason Neck State Park's Owl Moon event on September 23.  Two speakers from Secret Garden: Birds and Bees briefed the audience on a typical year in the life of Screech Owls, Barred Owls, Barn Owls and Great Horned Owls.  They also brought with them a Barred Owl, a Barn Owl and a Great Horned Owl for the audience to see and photograph.  

    Everyone enjoyed the program and the opportunity to view these seldom-seen birds up close.  But the highlight of the evening was watching the Great Horned Owl seize and devour a mouse.  



  • 27 Aug 2017 2:52 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    Dixie Sommers, who is a Friend of Mason Neck State Park and the Treasurer of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, led a bird walk along the Bayview Trail on Sunday morning, August 27.  We enjoyed a perfect day as we tallied 37 species.  Highlights included very good views of a Great Crested Flycatcher, a Prothonotary Warbler and a Red-eyed Vireo.  We also enjoyed numerous butterflies and some of the late summer flowers.


    Audubon Society of Northern VA birders       Juvenile Eastern Bluebird

    Tiger Swallowtails on Joe Pye Weed           Northern Rough-winged Swallows

    Cardinal Flower

  • 26 Aug 2017 5:10 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    What an unforgettable sight!  On August 19, the Wildlife Center of Virginia released two rehabilitated Bald Eagles at the Park.  The young eagles had fallen out of their nests when they were too young to fly, and were cared for at the Center until they could be released.  About 100 people were there to witness Edward Clark Jr., the President and founder of the Center, release the eagles.  The Center chose Mason Neck State Park as the site for the eagle release because its habitat is ideal for eagles.  The principal reason the Park was founded in 1985 was to preserve Bald Eagle habitat.  Friends of Mason Neck State Park Board Members Randy Streufert and Mark Stephens were there to photograph the event. 

  • 29 Jul 2017 12:03 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    On July 23, the Friends provided a pizza dinner to the Youth Conservation Corps members and their leaders, who began a three-week stint at the Park.  The YCC members are working on upgrading the Bayview Trail, one of the Park's most popular hiking trails.  Friends Board Member Randy Streufert also presented a program on staying safe in the park -- how to identify and deal with poison ivy, ticks, chiggers, wasps and bees, and also showed some of his extraordinary photos of wildlife that can be found in the park.  Some of the Friends Board Members attended the Park's Ice Cream Social in honor of the YCC members on July 28.

  • 29 Jul 2017 12:01 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    The Friends of Mason Neck State Park assisted Park Staff in hosting members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington for the Great American Campout on June 23 and 24.  The Friends helped put up tents and cook dinner, and also helped the youngsters paddle canoes.  The wind created an exciting time as some of the canoes were blown into the mouth of Kanes Creek and we had to work hard to get back to the launch site. Everyone had a good time -- campers and adults alike.  

  • 08 Jul 2017 11:20 AM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    The May 20 Eagle Festival at Mason Neck State Park was the Park's biggest event of the year.  An estimated 3600 people showed up for a day of shows, demonstrations, booths staffed by environmental organizations, pony rides, a chance to try out a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard, live eagle cam, live band, and food trucks.  Twenty-seven volunteers recruited by the Friends of Mason Neck State Park helped the Festival go smoothly, helping out in the parking lot, the show tents, as costumed character Parker Fox, as greeters and in other important functions.


  • 18 Jun 2017 9:08 AM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    Dr. Michael Johnson, the former Senior Archaeologist for Fairfax County, led a walking lecture along Belmont Bay on Saturday, June 17.  Thirty-eight people joined the walk.  Dr. Johnson briefly discussed the splitting of Pangea into the present-day continents and its impact on the geology of Virginia, and then focused on the changes in the geography of the Mason Neck area since the last Ice Age.  He explained that Belmont Bay did not exist 10,000 years ago, and that the Occoquan River once meandered near the current location of Mason Neck State Park. 

    Turning to more recent times, Dr. Johnson explained that in the early 17th century, Native Americans grew corn on land in Belmont Bay, and that the land gradually was submerged due to rising sea levels and subsidence of the land.  He discussed Native American archaeological sites that are now under water, and how he recovered 30 2,000 year-old artifacts from the floor of Belmont Bay using a garbage can with the bottom cut out as a cofferdam to keep out water while he worked.  He also pointed out the site of the home of Reverend Massey, the pastor of Pohick Church, where George Washington once worshipped; and discussed the excavation of a Native American platform hearth on what is now the bike trail near the intersection of Gunston Road and High Point Road.  

    Dr. Johnson, who has studied the Mason Neck area for forty years, agreed to return to the Park for another lecture later this year.  

  • 08 Jun 2017 9:26 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    The Mason Neck Citizens Association gave its Citizen of the Year award to David Stapleton, the Assistant Park Manager of Mason Neck State Park, at the May 20 Eagle Festival at the Park. The award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation of the historic, archaeological, and environmental resources of Mason Neck.

    Dave turned his great love of the outdoors into a 33 year career with our State Parks. He's been a key figure at Mason Neck State Park for the last twenty five years, helping it develop into one of Virginia’s best state parks. He's also been instrumental in producing all 20 Eagle Festivals.

    Dave is highly regarded by his coworkers, who feel he has done much for them and the Park. When asked about Dave's best qualities, Park Manager Reinhardt Gray was quick to respond “faith, family, and integrity”. Those of us on the Friends board who have worked with him, concur.

    Dave will be retiring at the end of the year and enjoying more time with his wife and 5 sons. While we wish him well, we'll certainly miss him.

© 2017 Friends of Mason Neck State Park, Inc.
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