Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Inappropriate Hunting Site

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Inappropriate Hunting Site

The following open letter was addressed to Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck.

It has recently come to my attention that the county will be expanding its Deer Management Program in the southern portion of Fairfax County. As our local elected official, I ask your support in reviewing this action which impacts parks that abut property overseen by associations such as: Riverside Estates Civic Association, Stratford Landing CA, and Williamsburg Manor CA to name a few.

My particular concern relates to property that I assume to be known as Little Hunting Creek Park. First and foremost I would like to make the county aware that this supposed "park" is little more than a 10.23 acre lot that the county does not manage in any way, shape, or form other than maintaining its easement rights to storm water runoff into the Little Hunting Creek. The county does not clean the trash that gets left behind, does not chase off groups that come to use the area as a hideaway for drug use, does not maintain trails or small foot bridges, and does nothing to manage invasive plant species that threaten to kill off the trees and leave us with a wasteland.

The land is in fact maintained by the local community. Residents of Riverside Estates care for the trails, take English ivy off of ravaged trees, and clean up garbage. We do this so that our neighbors and children can use this area to enjoy the outdoors. In this particular lot, children aged 3 to 18 use the land on a daily basis for fishing, hiking, walking dogs, building wood forts, hide and go seek, etc. Permitted hunting on this land poses a danger to the public safety of those using the park as well as those that live adjacent to it. I can see a tree stand placed yesterday from my back window. This stand is located no more than 15 yards from a trail system and 30 yards from private property. Not only does this pose a safety hazard but it should not be allowed in such a small piece of land that is used by so many.

I am personally appalled that the county would allow such activity without any input from the localities impacted. No public hearing, little to no prior notification, and seemingly with zero understanding of the park itself. I am by no means a prude when it comes to hunting but in a residential neighborhood with young children this represents an unacceptable danger. No matter the skill level of the hunter, accidents happen. Are we willing to allow that possibility for the sake of a few deer? Management needs to tackle the issue at its core, inside established large scale parks such as Huntley Meadows.

I ask that the county place an immediate moratorium on its Deer Management Program in Little Hunting Creek Park. Other jurisdictions impacted in southern portion of Fairfax County should also be reviewed for safety and efficacy. Continuing the expansion of a kill program in small residential areas should be studied and discussed on a larger scale and backed up with data.

Thank you for your consideration.

Paul Evans

Mt. Vernon