Last Saturday morning, the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) and the National Park Service held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the Potomac River Gorge Interpretive Trail which runs between Riverbend Park and Great Falls Park.
In his introductory remarks, Kevin Fay, the Dranesville representative for the FCPA, teased Supervisor Joan DuBois (R-Dranesville) for not being a morning person. However, DuBois said the beauty of Riverbend Park had changed her attitude.
"It is cold out here, but let me tell you, sitting there and looking out, it is just beautiful," said DuBois. "You're right, morning is good."
The Interpretive Trail project was put into motion two years ago, and was paid for by the FCPA along with matching funds from the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network (CBGN). The hope is that it will educate the public about the Potomac River Gorge which is recognized by the Nature Conservancy as one of the most significant natural areas in the region. The 2.5-mile trail is comprised of 14 trailside interpretive signs along the shoreline of the Potomac River.
"We want to get people out into the environment," said Bob Campbell, a representative from the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. "There are few opportunities where people are so receptive as when they are having a good time."
THE POTOMAC RIVER Gorge is a 15-mile corridor that extends from Riverbend Park in Great Falls to Roosevelt Island in Washington, D.C., and according to the Nature Conservancy, it is home to globally rare plant and animal species that are found nowhere else on earth.
"This project found its way to fruition when we were looking for a creative approach that would shed light on one of the most unique urban wilderness areas in the nation," said Fay.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-At-large) commended those involved in the project for their cooperative efforts, and reminded citizens that preserving nature is of the utmost importance.
"We still have huge swaths of nature in this county that are preserved and beautiful," said Connolly. "This is what trails are all about, opening up nature to citizens."
Jon James, National Park Service Acting Superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, said that in his time spent with various Native American tribes, he had learned a very important concept.
"They believe that all rivers are connected, and therefore all the people that live along their shores are connected as well," said James.
James noted that connectivity is an important theme of the Interpretive Trail.
"What this trail does is create a seamless system of signs between these two parks."