Priority Action 3.2. Protect, restore and expand natural resources and trees.
While natural resources are located throughout the County, many of the most critical sites are adjacent to waterways and in stream valley parks. Preserving existing aquatic habitat such as wetlands, ponds, and vernal pools is important to conserving natural resources in the County. Alongside riparian and aquatic habitat conservation, preserving and creating unique terrestrial habitat, such as meadows, edges, and pollinator patches can assist in providing the full spectrum of habitats.
3.2.1. Address the protection, restoration, reforestation and expansion of natural resources in the Four Mile Run planning corridor and master plans for parks along Four Mile Run, as well as others leading to riparian areas.
The Four Mile Run corridor and other riparian areas throughout the County have been compromised due to rapid development and increased density of surrounding communities. Moving forward, park master plans should emphasize the restoration and long-term protection of these important resources.
3.2.2. Pursue easements to protect natural areas, mature tree canopy and heritage resources.
Obtaining conservation easements on land that is crucial for natural or historic resource purposes ensures it will not be developed. Easements are an important preservation strategy and focus on the protection of the asset rather than public access. One tool the County has utilized is its partnership with the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT). NVCT is a regional agency that works with private property owners on ways to preserve important natural resources.
3.2.3. Explore collaboration with the National Park Service to develop master plans for Roaches Run, Gravelly Point, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and other NPS areas.
The National Park Service oversees several public spaces in the County that include significant natural resources. These spaces should be planned for in a collaborative manner so that they fit seamlessly within the County’s broader public space system. Other projects requiring collaboration with NPS include an enhanced connection to the Mt. Vernon Trail (see 2.1.4.) and a proposed boathouse on the banks of the Potomac River.
3.2.4. Collaborate with Arlington Public Schools to identify, preserve, enhance and maintain natural and historic resources on school properties.
There are often natural and historic resources located on APS property, and managing and maintaining these sensitive habitats, trees, buildings and other critical natural and historic resources requires collaboration, specific care, and resources.
3.2.5. Explore opportunities for daylighting streams in public spaces that are currently part of the underground stormwater system.
Daylighting, the process of reopening waterways that had previously been buried or channelized, enhances the natural functioning of water bodies and can also provide economic development or placemaking opportunities.
3.2.6. Work with neighboring jurisdictions and state and federal agencies outside of the County.
Natural resources are not bound by political boundaries and land resources. The County should work to develop partnerships and agreements with agencies such as the Department of Defense, National Park Service, Virginia Department of Transportation, and adjoining municipal governments to more holistically manage natural resources.
3.2.7. Improve processes for earlier review of public projects, to minimize impact on tree canopy and natural resources.
3.2.8. Use objective criteria to evaluate whether potential natural resources will be added to the public space system. (See Appendix II for land acquisition criteria)
3.2.9. Identify areas that generate the most heat, also known as urban heat islands, and develop a plan to increase vegetation and tree canopy in these areas.
3.2.10. Create pollinator corridors within parks and street medians, where appropriate.
Many pollinator habitats within the County are small and fragmented with little connectivity between them. Pollinator populations are therefore often isolated and small in numbers. The creation of pollinator corridors connecting those in parks and other public open spaces will help reduce or reverse the population declines that such pollinators as bees, butterflies and other native insects are experiencing.