Prince William Conservation Alliance
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Virginia Blubells
Prince William Conservation Alliance
Explore, enjoy & protect nature close to home
Community Report
April 1, 2011


Virginia Bluebells
I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.
~Georgia O'Keefe
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Bring your family and friends to Merrimac Farm on Sunday, April 10, beginning at 10:00 am, to welcome spring and view the spectacular display of Virginia Bluebells that carpet the floodplain along Cedar Run for nearly a mile. In the words of one visitor, it's like walking through Oz.

We'll have naturalist-led tours to the Bluebells and Cedar Run, where you can stay as long as you'd like. Along the way we'll travel through a variety of habitats, talking about the birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife that lives at Merrimac Farm and in Northern Virginia.

A nature art show featuring local artists, activities for children, concessions and (out)door prizes are featured at the Stone House Visitor Center... fun for the whole family.

Wear long pants and sturdy shoes. Please take care not to step on the Bluebells.

For more information and directions, visit the event website here.

Sponsored by the Prince William Conservation Alliance, Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries and Marine Corps Base Quantico.
  2011 Conservation Forum 
Artists in the BluebellsLots of interest in local natural areas
PWCAs 2011 Conservation Forum attracted a full house. With more than 100 people attending, it was close to standing room only in the Board Chambers.

Last year's Conservation Forum highlighted opportunities and challenges associated with land acquisition in Northern Virginia. This year our focus was on Public Access to Public Lands, an important topic for the Prince William area, where more than 1,500 acres of publicly-owned natural areas are closed to the public.

Rob Hartwell, Chairman of the Liz Hartwell Environmental Education Fund and Commissioner on the Interstate Commission for the Potomac River Basin, spoke to the benefits of public access, emphasizing the need to restrict uses to passive activities that do not damage resources. Rob also warned that upcoming budget cuts will create challenges and noted that public access could help attract the volunteer support that is critical in times when funding is scarce.

Representative Gerry Connolly, 11th Congressional District, conveyed his support for opening Featherstone Refuge quickly, with existing infrastructure. He spoke to the need to protect sensitive natural areas and highlighted public access as part of this goal, saying "if we're going to persuade our fellow citizens that preservation is a worthwhile investment, we need to make sure they have opportunities to see and experience the benefits."

Mike Kane, Conservation Officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council, talked about conservation successes in the piedmont. He highlighted the successful preservation of Banshee Reeks Natural Area and emphasized the importance of long-term community support for protecting natural areas from future threats, including new roads.

Charlie Grymes, Chairman of the Prince William Conservation Alliance, recognized the difficulties of protecting and managing natural areas that are largely unknown. He observed that, "if you don't know what you have, you're not going to manage it well."

Charlie stressed the need for access to natural areas so children can benefit from exploring the natural world and are not limited to the manicured lawn experience. He said that, while there places where that can happen, the most important are those close to home.