Late last year, Arlington County launched a 12-18 month process to draft and adopt the Forestry and Natural Resources Master Plan,. EcoAction Arlington sees this effort as an opportunity to make the natural world an integral part of our community by creating healthy ecosystems for people and wildlife and ensuring equal access to these ecosystems and the benefits they bring for all. We have recommended that the plan be built on the key themes of:
- Ensuring all Arlingtonians regardless of race or ethnic origin have equal and welcoming access to public places, as well as an equal opportunity to contribute to preserving them
- Connecting fragmented natural areas and creating a Homegrown National Park through public and private participation in managing green spaces to increase tree canopy, reduce stormwater runoff, mitigate the urban heat island, improve wildlife habitat, and fight climate change.
- Transforming Arlington Public Schools’ open areas (and other public spaces) into natural ecosystems with native flora and fauna, creating oases for students to learn and play outside and for the benefit of the broader community.
- Adopting a whole-of-government approach to implement the County’s climate change, natural resources protection, and other sustainability goals and to ensure that natural resources are appropriately valued in balancing competing priorities.
EcoAction Arlington encourages the incorporation of the following elements into the Plan:
- Tax and other incentives to put privately-held land with valuable natural resources into conservation trusts and to protect mature trees on private property.
- Robust strategies to manage deer and remove invasive plants to mitigate the negative impacts on forests and fauna.
- Revised weed regulations to prevent such rules from discouraging (or removing) landscaping with native plants.
- Replacement of gas-powered lawn equipment, particularly leaf blowers, with electric-powered equivalents for services provided directly by the county or on county property and state legislation to allow local jurisdictions to ban such equipment within the county to reduce associated noise and air pollution.
The draft plan will be available this fall and you can sign up for alerts for opportunities to comment here. In the meantime,we encourage you to participate in a cleanup or invasive removal events at local parks, apply for a free tree through the Tree Canopy Fund, and learn more about growing native plants through Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia and Plant NOVA Natives.