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August 2008 Proposed Visitor Center

2008 Fall Wildlife Festival
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Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Wetland at the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife RefugeThe 644-acre Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located at the confluence of the Occoquan River and the Potomac River. It is an outstanding place to watch wildlife in any season.

A diversity of wetlands cover about half of the refuge, including wet meadows, bottomland hardwoods, open freshwater marshes, and tidal marshes. Upland meadows and mature oak-hickory-beech forest are interspersed among the wetlands. The diversity and arrangement of habitat types protected by the Occoquan Bay Refuge provides unique opportunities for wildlife watching.

Virginia Native Plant Society volunteers have inventoried over 600 plant species in twenty distinct vegetative habitats on the refuge. The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and others have documented 237 bird species, 74 butterflies, 61 dragonflies over the past two decades on the refuge.

2008 Fall Wildlife Festival - Lots of People, Lots of Fun

Prince William Conservation Alliance

October 11 2008 - The Fall Festival at the Occoquan Bay Refuge was today and we had a terrific time. Special thanks to Ann Calendar, Marilyn Schultz and Mary Ann Fellows for helping manage PWCAs activities at the event.

The weather was beautiful and there was lots to do. The Audubon Society of NoVA, NoVA Bird Club and Virginia Native Plant Society led wildlife and wildflower tours. PWCA was there with an assortment of frogs, turtles & aquatic insects for people to meet. The VA Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries had an great display on mammals, complete with scat replicas. And there was much more...

PWCA also continued planting vegetation around the small pond off the parking lot. Last year we planted spatter dock, pickerel weed and a rush. The pickerel weed and rush didn't make it, but the spatterdock is blooming, looks terrific and improved the habitat for wildlife.

This year we planted two river birches, two black willows, monkey flower and tried more of the rush in a different location. Special thanks to the Fish & Wildlife Service, who provided the plants, and everyone who helped plant them.

It will be exciting to see these new plants, plus last years spatterdock, along the pond's shoreline next year... when we'll be planting something else. All in all, a very good day!

Visitor Center Proposal Would Destroy Valuable Habitat

August 2008 -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently proposing to construct a Visitor Center at the Occoquan Bay Refuge. The building would cover one-quarter acre, and a new parking lot would be needed for most of the sites considered in the Service's draft Environmental Assessment.

The Service's preferred location is in the deciduous woods along Marumsco Creek, which would also require construction of a new road from the front gate.

As a first step in the process, the Service has completed a draft Environmental Assessment comparing four possible locations for a Visitor Center. All the locations considered as part of the assessment are within the gates of the refuge, where wildlife habitat would be replaced with structures and parking lots. A "no build" alternative was not considered as part of the assessment.

The public comment period, which ended September 29, was poorly advertised. Many interested people were not aware of the document until late in the game. Others will learn about this proposal only after the fact.

Despite the 11th hour scramble, some citizens and organizations were able to share their views with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the proposed visitor center. We have some of these comments posted online, including those from:

Natural areas create a sense of place and pride in our suburban community. We need to protect our natural areas, waterways and wildlife habitats for future generations. Unless we act to protect these areas now, many of our beautiful, natural areas will disappear before our children and grandchildren have a chance to enjoy them.
Youth explore nature at the Occoquan Bay Refuge Occoqouan Bay Refuge Nesting boxes at the Occoquoan Bay Refuge

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