The second stage of the naturalization plan involves restoring organic material to the soil around trees.
Photo by Mercia Hobson.
Members of the Great Falls Citizens Association Environment and Parks Committee, co-chaired by Winifred Frost and Susanne Black, met in early June to discuss restoring the oak grove at the Grange Hall Park. An invasive management area has been identified, and efforts are underway by Black to initiate a habitat restoration.
Jerry Peters and Chris Rich presented a plan to the committee members to naturalize the landscape in the oak grove behind the Grange Hall and protect large oaks throughout the identified area.
Vital to the success of the three-part plan is volunteer support needed first to remove the invasive plants. Rich leads the work and asks for volunteers to sign up as Invasive Management Area Volunteers through Fairfax County Parktakes.
Habitat Restoration at Great Falls Grange Park: Sunday, July 11, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. “Invasive plants are a huge threat to local wildlife, including migrating birds. Help out these creatures by volunteering to remove invasive plants at Great Falls Grange Park,” reads the volunteer signup page. The form is available online at Invasive Management Area Volunteer.
Individuals should sign up by noon on Friday for weekend workdays/events and must be 11 years of age. An adult must accompany volunteers aged 11-13. The number of volunteers per site is limited.
The second stage of the plan will involve restoring organic material to the soil around the oak trees. The third stage is to bring back native plants for the understory of the oak grove. The combination of the three efforts will preserve the oak area and site borders.
Peters and Rich are coordinating the GFCA effort with the Fairfax County Park Authority, Great Falls Grange Foundation, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, and other groups and organizations wanting to improve the ecological health of the public spaces.
John Burke, Branch Manager at Fairfax County Park Authority Natural Resources attended the early June meeting. He concurred with the three-step plan of removing invasive plants, restoring organic matter to the soil, and planting natives to the understory as vital to the plan’s success.
Maria Harwood, Urban Conservation Specialist for Northern Virginia Soil & Water Conservation District, suggested taking a virtual tour of Mount Cuba Center in Delaware to get an idea of successful natural land management. According to the nonprofit’s website, gardening is on a higher level...home to thousands of native plants https://mtcubacenter.org/visit/tour/spring/.