Environment and Parks Committee News

Committee Chairs

  • Winnie Frost
  • Suzanne Black

Committee Role

The EP committee promotes programs and actions designed to protect the natural and historic resources of our community, and  to articulate GFCA's objectives for the natural environment of Great Falls and the enjoyment thereof by its citizens.
  • 31 Mar 2016 11:39 AM | Anonymous

    The GFCA Committee on Environment, Parks and Trails has established a task force to bring new attention to the continuing erosion of Great Falls' many streams. The ongoing review of the rezoning application of  Brooks Farm in central Great Falls has brought to light throughout the community the importance of finding better ways to control storm water runoff.   The task force is working currently with Supervisor John Foust's office to develop a spring GFCA town hall meeting with County officials who are familiar with storm water management and the County's plans to mitigate.  For more information on this initiative, watch the GFCA website and plan to attend the April 12 Townhall meeting.

  • 31 Mar 2016 11:38 AM | Anonymous

    GFCA partnered with Supervisor John Foust and the County's Urban Forest Management Division on March 8 to hold a community forum on local tree issues, including preserving trees during the residential development process (particularly on in-fill lots) and how county officials, local residents, and developers can best work together. The tree experts also discussed a wide range of other community concerns, including tree trimming and removal along roads and utility lines, and the environmental benefits of trees.  The Northern Virginia Building Industry Association (NVBIA) was represented and discussed home builders' views on tree retention.

  • 31 Mar 2016 11:37 AM | Anonymous

    The annual clean up of Difficult Run stream valley will be held  on the morning of April 9, 2016, from 9 am until noon.  Sponsored by the Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA), this annual clean up is part of an annual, region-wide cleanup of the Potomac River watershed.  Adults and middle and high school students are encouraged to participate:  work gloves and plastic bags will be provided.  In addition, participants will have a scenic spring hike along the relatively flat Difficult Run stream valley, between Georgetown Pike and Route 7.  Get some fresh air and exercise while improving your community.  To register and obtain directions, contact Bill Canis, at bill.canis@gfca.org.

  • 21 Dec 2015 5:53 PM | Anonymous

    The Committee on Environment, Parks and Trails (EPT) engages in multiple initiatives to preserve the semi-rural nature of our community.  The committee sponsored several forums (and a survey) on the adverse effects of the deer overpopulation on local forests and landscaping.  The new public attention to a growing problem resulted in a local nonprofit, Green Fire, developing an expanded local program matching landowners and hunters to control herds.  This initiative is helping to curb deer populations so that local forests can regenerate.

    Concerned about the impact of increased development on storm water management and other environmental issues, the committee partnered with the GFCA Land Use & Zoning Committee to sponsor a spring public meeting with county officials on the environmental effects of rezoning Brooks Farm for a cluster development.  Issues raised during this public meeting were factors in the County's changes in the developer's original plans. In addition, the EPT committee seeks to preserve white oak and other native tree species.  It worked with VDOT in evaluating the last heritage oak in the commercial area (which was unfortunately removed in November) and initiated the planting of dozens of new white oaks throughout the town. 

    In 2016, EPT is launching a new program to reevaluate County ordinances governing commercial and street lighting, in an effort to renew our commitment to a Dark Skies program.  Great Falls' dark sky uniqueness in the metro area has led the Fairfax County Park Authority to partner with the local Analemma Society to build a new celestial observatory at Turner Farm park.  Reducing unnecessary and expensive lighting will assist the observatory and also help retain our semi-rural character.

  • 31 Oct 2015 1:19 PM | Anonymous

    The Great Falls Historical Society and Greenfire will once again team up to offer a special venison cookoff at the Great Falls farmers market on Saturday, Nov. 21.  Greenfire is a Great Falls nonprofit group that offers a program of comprehensive, long-term management of over-abundant deer.  Local chefs will use venison, all harvested by Great Falls hunters in Great Falls, in a variety of menus. Tasting will be free and the community is invited to come to try the samples and discuss the recipes with the chefs.  Residents interested in bow hunting of deer on their property will be able to discuss those options with Greenfire representatives.

  • 31 Oct 2015 1:18 PM | Anonymous

    GFCA held an educational townhall on October 6 to bring new attention to the community’s longstanding policy of encouraging dark skies for astronomy purposes, especially at Turner Farm, where the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) is making a major investment in a new roll top astronomy building.  Speaking at the forum were representatives from the Smart Outdoor Lighting Alliance, FCPA and the Analemma Society (which operates the Turner Farm observatory).   It was pointed out that Fairfax County’s lighting ordinance has not been reviewed or updated since 2003 and that many of the county staff once trained to evaluate lighting  for proposed building permits may have left.  The speakers laid the ground for further work by GFCA in 2016:   to encourage a county review of the current ordinance and updating where necessary, as well as a examination of current lighting in Great Falls with an eye to reducing growing light pollution.

  • 29 Aug 2015 1:27 PM | Anonymous

    Driving down Springvale Road, residents may notice construction activity at Turner Farm Park.  The Analemma Society and the Fairfax County Park Authority have broken ground on a new Roll Top Observatory building.   The 1,680 square foot, single story concrete building will include classroom space, restrooms and an observatory that will house up to four telescopes. The sliding roof system is designed to retract from above the observatory area by rolling over the top of the fixed roof.  The project is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2016. 

  • 18 May 2015 6:59 PM | Pam Grosvenor

    Entrance fees to Great Falls National Park will increase effective June 1, 2015 (see table below). This increase follows a a nationwide review of entrance fees by the National Park Service. To solicit public input, Great Falls Park launched a civic engagement campaign in December 2014. During the public comment period, the park received 65 formal comments. While the majority of comments supported an increase, many people felt that the original proposal for the vehicle pass ($15.00) was too much. To respond to public comments, the park modified the original proposal of vehicle entrance fee.

    Entrance fees support a wide range of projects that improve the park and visitor experiences. Recent fee projects include installing new museum exhibits, producing a film about George Washington’s vision for the Patowmack Canal, improving handicap access to park facilities, remodeling and updating the visitor center restrooms at Great Falls Park, refurbishing scenic overlooks and installing trail direction signs and interpretive exhibits. Additional revenue from this fee increase will go towards repairing and maintaining park trails, and printing park brochures and Junior Ranger booklets.

    Current  Fees                                                                                                                            New Fees

     Vehicle Pass (3 days)  $  5.00  Vehicle Pass (3 days) $10.00 
     Motorcycle Pass (3 days)  $  5.00  Motorcycle Pass (3 days)  $10.00
     Pedestrian Pass (3 days)  $  3.00  Pedestrian Pass (3 days)  $  5.00
     Annual Park Pass  $20.00  Annual Park Pass  $30.00

  • 30 Apr 2015 6:42 AM | Pam Grosvenor

    GFCA is again coordinating and supporting the flowering baskets program, which places large baskets of petunias around the commercial and public areas in Great Falls. The program, a joint effort of GFCA and merchants as well as local groups that support the library and Grange, adds a touch of continuous colorful summer blooms around town. Funding from sponsors is used to cover the cost of the baskets, petunias grown at the local Treefrog nursery, and weekly watering throughout the summer by SGB Landscaping. The nine partners who, along with GFCA, make this project possible are: Great Falls Shopping Center (BF Saul), Great Falls Village Centre, Exxon Station, Leigh Corners, Olivers Corner, Village Green Day School, Village Center V Condominium Association, Friends of the Great Falls Library and Friends of Riverbend Park (Grange).

  • 18 Apr 2015 7:35 AM | Anonymous

    Come visit the Farmer's Market on Saturday April 25, from 9 am - 1 pm, to sample local chefs culinary creations using locally harvested venison.  As part of a "field to table" program, local chefs will be using locally harvested venison in delicious recipes.  

    The native deer population has grown exponentially over the past 30 years due to the absence of predators and the smorgasbord provided from suburban planting.  The program on April 25 will include educational information on the damage being done by deer to our forest ecosystem, and how residents can take action to cull the deer herd thereby restoring wildlife habitat, forest understory, tree regeneration, and natural vegetation.

    This event is an outgrowth of the GFCA deer education program.

The opinions expressed on these pages are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the Great Falls Citizens Association

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