Category Archives: Articles

Silver Lake Property Workday

I very much enjoyed getting out this Saturday and helping the Prince William County Park Authority clean up the county land known as Silver Lake.  This property contains many of the natural recreational resources we very much need in PWC with a lake for fishing and swimming, 233 acres suited for multi-use trails, a wooded area north of the lake suited for tent camping, and many other exciting opportunities.  I was happy to spend 5 hrs of back breaking work in support of the County’s efforts to make this a reality for recreation of the citizens of Prince William County.

Work activities included:  removal of rotting decking materials from previous ownership; removal of baseball backstop, fallen batting cages, and soccer backstops; stacking of masonry materiel for recycling; and trash pickup.

Thank you everyone who contributed.

Going to the park… how long should it take?

A 90 minute drive to travel from Lake Ridge down to a local park, all within eastern PW County?  That’s what happened to Mr. Charles Gallion, per his letter to the Lane Ranger (Potomac News, August 17, 2008).  Mr. Gallion described his trip to Locust Shade Park on a recent Saturday afternoon:  “A simple 15-mile trip took 90 minutes southbound using a combination of I-95 and U.S.1.  The return 15-mile trip took 60 minutes northbound only because I exited I-95 at Va. 234 and took back roads and residential streets.  What a joke.  All told, that was 150 minutes combined for a total of 30 miles.”

The Lane Ranger responded that he shared Mr. Gallion’s pain, and so do many of the readers who chose to submit comments on the letter.  Obviously there is a transportation issue, but this may point out a park level of service issue as well.

In the Parks, Open Space, and Trails chapter of the PW County comprehesive plan, county parks are catagorized in this way:

Park type Size Service area Level of Service Standard
Neighborhood 5 – 20 acres Up to 2 miles 1 acre / 1000 population
Community 20 – 150 acres 2 – 10 miles 4 acres / 1000
Regional 100 + acres Over 10 miles / entire county 6 acres /1000

While the number of acres per 1000 population is a key standard, another level of service standard mentioned is Service area (i.e., travel time boundaries) (page 19 of the chapter).  The travel times are not specified.  Is 90 minutes of travel to reach a local park an acceptable level of service, by any definition?

Mr. Gallion may not use Locust Shade Park for future company picnics because his recent experience.  Similarly, I used to make frequent trips to Prince William Forest Park for hiking, bicycling and nature watching, but don’t anymore because of the traffic situation on the I-95 corridor.   This highlights the importance of neighborhood and community parks, which should be dispersed within our residential areas, should be within walking and biking distance, and should include natural areas along with other park amenities.  I seek out parks for recreation, because I enjoy nature, and partly for relief from our Northern Virginia congestion.  I’d like to have options for getting to them that don’t involve the congestion.

Trail Ride in James Long Park

What a great experience at James Long Park.

On Tuesday evening, I met with John and Keith for a ride on the trails of James S. Long Regional Park. John had asked me about the trails at the park and I told him I would be happy to show him the layout. Of course, this would be a different experience than most of the rides I embark upon as John and Keith were both avid Mountain Biking fans, and Shelly, the Quarterhorse I rode, had not experienced bicycles before. Turns out, horses and bikes get along just fine on the trails.

The hot day was sunny, but cool and breezy back in the woods. Shelly and I led the guys on the trails, taking advantage of the trail system design where Shelly and I jumping the few trees that had fallen over the trails, and John and Keith able to easily ride around the trees on the diversion legs built for avoiding them. We rode up and down the inclines, over the rocky areas, through all four creek crossings, and paused at the far opening for some pictures. We then decided to reverse course with the horse following the bikes. And again, Shelly did a wonderful job showing no worries about the biking action in front of her. I maintained at least two lengths behind the second bike, but could have easily been closer without causing Shelly concern.

As with many of my experiences these days, I am happy to see that bikes and horse got along on the trails, dispelling the myth that many of us had been led to believe by others. We had a great afternoon riding on about six miles of some of the best multi-use trails available in Prince William County, surrounded by hardwood trees with views of the creeks running below.

I encourage more of the citizens using public and private trails to experience the same. You will have fun and the experience will truly introduce you to new opportunities, and new friends.