Environmental Protector

Environmental Protector

Longtime Lorton resident Joe Chudzik uses free time to work for preservation of area’s natural and historical areas.

Retirement hasn’t slowed longtime Laurel Hill resident Joe Chudzik. He’s now working steadfastly to “protect the environmental and historical heritage resources of Mason Neck.” Besides that, Chudzik is concerned with cleaning up the Lorton area, and he urges his fellow residents to get out and enjoy what the Lorton outdoor community has to offer.

Number of years in the community: 10 years.

Family: Spouse- Faith and two married sons; David, 39, and Michael, 37; and a daughter Lara, 38.

Education: Political science B.S.; Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State; Peace Corps volunteer; U.S. Air Force Aviation Cadet Flight School.

You first job: Building radar control systems at Air Force bases.

Current job/primary occupation: Retired State Department foreign service officer.

Activities/interests/hobbies: Volunteering in my community to help protect the environmental and historic heritage resources of Mason Neck. Member of the Mason Neck Lions Club and chairman of the Virginia Lions Community/Cultural Activities Program. Coordinating the Storm Drain Marking Program in the Pohick Creek watershed; organizing tree planting projects, Adopt-a-Highway and Adopt-a-Stream clean-ups, park clean-ups and graffiti removal projects in the Lorton community. Supporting the Lorton Community Action Center Youth Activities Resource Center and Eagle Scouts with community service projects in partnership with the Mason Neck Lions Club. Writing grant applications and obtaining funds for trail projects and public park facilities. Board member of the Northern Virginia Audubon Society and Clean Fairfax Council, Inc., Federation of Fairfax Community Associations representative to the Airports Advisory Committee, member of the Lorton Citizen's Alliance Team; secretary of the Friends of Meadowood and an active member of the Fairfax Watershed Network.

Favorite local restaurant or place in the community: Canoeing in Kane's Creek, biking on the Mason Neck Trail, and hiking the trails at Meadowood.

What are your community concerns? What are some ideas you have on ways to improve your community? You can volunteer in a Adopt-a-Highway or stream cleanup. Check the Laurel Hill Connection, Lorton Valley Star or other local newspapers for a schedule of community service projects in which you can participate.

What’s the last book you read or movie you watched?

“Potomac Squire” by Elswyth Thane, a book on George Washington's life at Mount Vernon.

What brought you here? The dynamic cultural/political scene in the metropolitan Washington area.

What community “hidden treasure” do you think more people should know about? Get out of your car; take a walk and discover your neighborhood park!

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? To travel, explore and discover new lands.

If you were to take a road trip anywhere right now, where would you go? Faith and I plan to visit Newfoundland in our RV.

What are your personal goals? See the completion of all four sections of the Mason Neck Trail.

How have you seen your community change over the years? The residents of Mason Neck are well aware of the need to protect and preserve their environmental and historic heritage resources. We understand that no community can rely on any zoning ordinance or comprehensive development plan to defend their neighborhood against unwanted development and urban sprawl. The people are united in opposition to the introduction of a public sewer on Mason Neck. Almost all the land on Mason Neck is residential-zoned or reserved as public parkland or open space. A public sewer would allow much higher density of development than the septic systems in use for most communities on Mason Neck. As a result, Mason Neck has over 9,000 acres of public parkland, including Mason Neck State Park, Elisabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Gunston Hall Plantation, Pohick Bay Regional Park, Meadowood Special Recreation Area, West Mason Neck County Park and recently an additional 100-plus acres of environmentally sensitive and historically significant property acquired by the Fairfax County Park Authority — land for public recreation and enjoyment.

What do you miss most from when you first came here? I miss the international travel opportunities my family and I once enjoyed as a Department of State foreign service officer working at embassies and consulates around the world. Our three children are grown now, but Faith and I take cruise ship vacations and travel the U.S. in our motor home.