|A symbolic groundbreaking ceremony was hundreds of feet from Wakefield Run and several weeks before the start of construction.|
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Wakefield Park by the Cross County Trail July 24, although the actual Wakefield Run restoration project isn’t expected to start for another month.
Fairfax County Park Authority, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD), Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, Dominion Virginia Power, Friends of Accotink Creek (FAC), the Transurban Group, the Fairfax County Parks Foundation, VDOT, Fairfax Trails and Streams, Earth Sangha, Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, and the office of Braddock Supervisor John Cook.
The project wouldn’t have happened without this partnership, Cook said. He praised the involvement of FAC as a “great example of citizen engagement.” FAC periodically organizes stream cleanup events and rescued hundreds of native species in advance of the restoration project.
NVSWCD Executive Director Laura Grape described the project: The redesigned and partially relocated stream will meander through a more natural setting. Plunge pools will slow down storm runoff. The removal of some of the riffraff will reduce debris collection at stream crossings and divert the flow away from erodible banks. And the bridge on the Cross County Trail (in the photo below) will be reconstructed.
|Urban conservation engineer Asad Rouhi of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District explains how the stream will be modified.|
The Public Works Department provided the bulk of the funding—$300,000 for the $440,000 project. The Park Authority contributed $75,000 in seed money from Transurban for the taking of land in Wakefield Park to construct the beltway express lanes. Dominion contributed $35,000.
While improving Wakefield Run is a good start, FAC would like to improve the health of the entire Accotink watershed, said Suzy Foster, the group’s secondary conservator.
But there are many challenges: “multiple landowners and stakeholders, laws of land use that need to be rewritten and enforced, and huge costs to repair the damage that has been done,” Foster said. “At the very heart of the issue—we we must change the perception of our waterways from leftover backyards to the natural resources that they are.”
The Wakefield Run stream restoration costs about $500 a linear foot; fixing all the impaired streams in Wakefield Park alone would cost millions of dollars. Foster called for property owners and developers to take action to control storm runoff now—and not wait until stricter laws are adopted.