NOVA Parks Seeks Input into 5 Year Strategic Plan

NOVA Parks Seeks Input into 5 Year Strategic Plan

Park users invited to comment before July 8

Parks in the regional system provide recreation and viewing an abundance of wildlife within their areas of conservation

Parks in the regional system provide recreation and viewing an abundance of wildlife within their areas of conservation Susan Laume

With 34 parks and 12,335 acres spread over six jurisdictions in Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, and Loudoun cities and counties, NOVA Parks serves many northern Virginia people with a variety of park amenities. Whether you look for ornamental gardens, historical sites, golf, waterparks, biking, kayaking, cabins in the woods, holiday light shows, or simply the pleasure of enjoying time in nature along its many hiking trails, you can find a special place in the NOVA Parks system.  Founded as a conservation organization over sixty years ago in 1959, the organization has acquired and now boasts ownership of “more parkland adjacent to the rivers of the region than any other public lands organization.” It generates 88% of its operating revenues from park programs and events.

Touching the lives of Northern Virginia’s 2.5 million people is a challenge and a responsibility, and NOVA Parks continues to reassess their approaches and look at “conserving natural and historic resources, making parks more central to the community’s life, and funding all of these vital community needs.”  

As part of that on-going reassessment, NOVA Parks is asking the public’s help to provide feedback on their draft 2023-2027 Strategic Plan. The plan addresses five “pillars” of objectives: “environment, belonging, our team, building the future, and revenue and efficiency … to  help guide improvements, operations, conservation, and services in NOVA Parks over the next five years.”

Executive Director Paul Gilbert says, ”A strategic plan sets the course for any organization. I am very excited about what our new strategic direction will mean for Northern Virginia. NOVA Parks can be a leader in a number of important areas. We can address the causes of climate change by focusing on how to make our lands absorb more carbon and how to reduce our carbon footprint. We live in a very diverse region, and we want our parks to be open and welcoming to everyone. We have a whole section of the plan called ‘Belonging.’ We can become even more welcoming by being thoughtful about creating community partnerships and developing programs and facilities that are culturally relevant to different groups. This is a plan that will make our region better and, in the process, make our world a little better."

The online survey asks only a few minutes of your time to give input, by answering two questions related to each of the five pillars, and a couple overall questions, ranking objectives within each area.  Visit to review the plan and provide feedback by July 8.


  • Plant over 50,000 trees creating new areas of forest

  • Create or improve trails with a focus on sustainability and an investment of over $6 million

  • Create a W&OD Visitor Center

  • Create a new wetland park for environmental education and sustainability

  • Invest in electric vehicles and mowers, and take other steps to lower carbon footprint

  • Add five new parkland properties, and manage existing parkland to better sequester carbon

  • Expand cultural events and festivals

  • Lead effort to commemorate the Declaration of Independence with interpretive efforts focused on liberty, justice, and freedom

  • Expand partnerships with community groups

  • Grow entrepreneurial revenues to support park improvements

  • Create a team and programs that are reflective of our changing and diverse community