Friends of 
Mason Neck State Park


  • 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.

  • 10 May 2017 9:55 AM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    The Board of Directors of the Friends of Mason Neck State Park recognized Kim Thompson for her years of service to the Park at the Board's May 8 meeting.  Board members described Kim as the "heart and mind" of the Friends and stated that without her, the Friends would not exist.  The Board presented Kim with a plaque commemorating her service, and Reinhardt Gray, the Park Manager, announced that Kim's name had been added to the Park's plaque recognizing volunteers with more than 1,000 hours of service.  

  • 07 May 2017 10:21 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)
    Eleven people showed up on May 6 for the Friends of Mason Neck State Park's second Friends hike in the park.  We met at 8:15 at the Wilson's Spring parking lot and hiked the Eagle Spur trail out to the bird blind and back. Pam Cressey, who led the hike, provided a very interesting overview of the geological history of the Mason Neck area and some information about its earliest Native American inhabitants of the area before we started.  We stopped periodically for Pam to give point out and discuss some of the the native plants along the trail, including the first blooms of Mountain Laurel, newly-leafed American Holly, and ferns.  At the bird blind, we all looked at a Bald Eagle across the creek, and one of our hikers spotted a blue-gray gnatcatcher, a Magnolia Warbler and a Black and White Warbler.  We were also entertained by the songs of wood thrushes as we walked through the woods.  It rained on part of the trip back to the parking lot, but the woods were pretty good umbrellas for us; we only got a little wet.  We had a great time, and we all got to know each other a little better.    

    Stay tuned to the website; the Friends will have a hike nearly every month.  We hope you will join us.  

  • 23 Apr 2017 12:54 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    Board members of the Friends of Mason Neck coordinated the volunteers who participated in the Alice Ferguson Foundation 29th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup at the Park on April 1, 2017.  Nearly 25 volunteers participated in the cleanup.  They collected 26 bags of trash and filled an entire dump truck of wood that had been removed during the replacement of one of the Park's boardwalks.  Thanks to all the volunteers, and especially the dedicated people who pulled the old wood from the marsh, loaded it into wheelbarrows, pushed them up the steep hill and loaded the wood into the Park's pickup truck.  Park employees made numerous trips with the pickup to the parking area and transferred the wood into the dump truck.  

  • 19 May 2016 10:10 AM | Hillary Clawson (Administrator)

    Despite the morning rain, nearly 2,500 people attended the 2016 Eagle Festival at the Park. Young and old were treated to fun and educational programs and activities, all designed to help everyone enjoy this unique environment. There were live raptors and reptiles, hikes and hayrides to see some of the active eagle nests in the Park, and an introduction to frequently overlooked wildlife. Kids enjoyed interacting with and learning from costumed characters including an eagle, frog, owl, raccoon, and of course Ranger Parker Redfox. Our Mason Neck Public Lands partners had activities and exhibits, along with many other environmental organizations. Hope to see you at next year's event, celebrating the Festival's 20th year!

  • 27 Sep 2015 10:51 AM | Kimberley Thompson (Administrator)

      At last evening's Owl Moon event, the Friends "adopted" this beautiful Barred Owl, one of the Raptor Conservancy's education birds (which cannot be returned to the wild due to permanent injuries).  In addition to supporting this Raptor Conservancy education Owl, the Friends will be building Barred Owl nest boxes for installation at Mason Neck State Park.  Barred Owls are cavity dwellers, like Bluebirds and Wood Ducks (which also have nest boxes at the Park), and all are negatively impacted by continuing loss of habitat.  The Park provides optimal habitat for these birds.

  • 02 Nov 2014 5:48 PM | Kimberley Thompson (Administrator)

    It was great seeing all of our Mason Neck friends at the Mason Neck Gateway Kiosk Ribbon-cutting Ceremony on Saturday, November 1!   In addition to Mason Neck State Park, Mason Neck is home to the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Gunston Hall, the Bureau of Land Management's Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area, Pohick Bay Regional Park, and segments of National Park Service Scenic Trails.

  • 18 Oct 2014 6:00 PM | Randy Streufert (Administrator)

    The Park's Enchanted Forrest event during the nighttime hours October 18 and 19 provided a unique opportunity to see the park at night.  In spite of the wind and cool weather, over 150 participated.  The children especially enjoyed the campfire, story telling, and meeting two larger than life creatures (an owl and a frog) while taking a guided walk.   Both told the young hikers about their environment, food and behavior.  The hikers also got a presentation on the mammals in the park by park staff.  The more adventuresome went on a guided walk deeper into the woods and learned from the staff about how the sense of hearing, smell, touch and eyesight adapted to the darkness and quiet of the forest.  The Friends provided assistance and two of our own directors had the fun of being in the owl and frog costumes and seeing the wide-eyed expressions of wonderment on the young children's faces.     

  • 16 Sep 2014 7:52 AM | Kimberley Thompson (Administrator)

    Thanks to all who made a "Mark on the Park"  this National Day of Service. Volunteers installed information markers on three Park trails - young and not-so-young volunteers all contributed and had a fine time doing it!

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