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What Good is a Park in the City?

posted Jun 26, 2013, 5:45 AM by Col Heights West Civic Assoc

What Good is a Park in the City?

Cliff Fairweather

Long Branch Nature Center

 

Small urban parks and the natural areas they harbor might seem to be of small consequence compared to great national parks such as Yosemite or Yellowstone. Yet these small parks can have great significance now that about 80% of Americans live in urban areas. For most of us, local parks provide our main opportunity for contact with nature.

 

Natural areas in Arlington represent only a small amount of the county’s total land area, about 4.7% (including federal lands) but they and other open spaces play a big role in making this a livable urban community. Consider some of the free ecosystem services natural areas in our parks provide:

 

·         Mitigating Air Pollution -- A forested park is a natural air filter. Tree leaves absorb pollutants and cause suspended air pollution particles to drop out of the air. Trees in natural areas are especially valuable in mitigating air pollution because they generally don’t need the energy-consuming maintenance that street and backyard trees require.

·         Reducing Urban Heat – Temperatures in urban areas can run 3 - 10° F higher than nearby rural areas. Shade form trees can reduce temperatures by 20° F or more and evapotranspiration – the release of water vapor through tree leaves – provides natural air conditioning. Through a process called advection, cooler urban forest air moves into adjacent developed areas.

·         Protecting Streams And Water Quality – Stormwater runoff from roads, rooftops, and other hard surfaces pollutes local streams and causes flooding and erosion problems. Lawns absorb only about 50% of the rain falling on them, while forested areas absorb nearly all of it. Trees act as natural pumps, releasing much of that rainfall back into the air.

·         Improving Our Well-being -- Natural areas in city parks provide educational and recreational opportunities for urban residents. Numerous studies have demonstrated a link between access to natural areas and stress reduction, faster healing, improved emotional outlook, and better mental health.

·         Promoting Conservation – By providing regular contact with nature, local parks help build support for conservation efforts both locally and further afield. They can also harbor rare species or ecosystems, such as the magnolia bogs in Barcroft Park.

 

Natural areas in Arlington parks provide a great walk in the woods – and a whole lot more!

 

Upcoming Nature Programs in July at Long Branch & Gulf Branch

 

To register:

 

            Phone: 703-228-4747

            On-line: https://registration.arlingtonva.us/wsc/webtrac.wsc/wb1000.html?wbp=1

 

Gemstone Club - Ruby
Wednesday, Jul. 3, 4:00 - 5:00 PM
Ages 7 - 11. Register child only. Budding geologists and gem lovers are invited for a year's worth of fun and collecting. Attend one or all of the sessions; we meet once each month. Children will learn about each month's birthstone and the alternate stones. There will be polished gems and uncut crystals to examine. We will find out about the geology, mining, legends, and literature for each gem. Every child will take home a beautiful gemstone in a protective display box. Collect a year's worth of gems, as well as an attractive color photo card to go with each month's birthstone. For more information: 703-228-3403. Meet at Gulf Branch Nature Center, 3608 Military Road, Arlington, VA 22207.
$10 fee due upon registration.
Program #642823-G

Gemstone Club - Ruby
Saturday, Jul. 6, 10:30 - 11:30 AM
Ages 7 - 11. Register child only. Budding geologists and gem lovers are invited for a year's worth of fun and collecting. Attend one or all of the sessions; we meet once each month. Children will learn about each month's birthstone and the alternate stones. There will be polished gems and uncut crystals to examine. We will find out about the geology, mining, legends, and literature for each gem. Every child will take home a beautiful gemstone in a protective display box. Collect a year's worth of gems, as well as an attractive color photo card to go with each month's birthstone. For more information: 703-228-3403. Meet at Gulf Branch Nature Center, 3608 Military Road, Arlington, VA 22207.
$10 fee due upon registration.
Program #642823-H

Snakes Campfire
Saturday, Jul. 6, 7:00 - 8:00 PM
All ages. Register adults and children; children must be accompanied by a registered adult. The whole family is invited to join us at the Long Branch amphitheater for lots of fun as we learn all about our those stand out reptiles- snakes! This engaging program will be filled with entertaining activities, which may include stories, games, and of course, treats like s’mores. Information: 703-228-3403. Meet at Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Rd., Arlington, VA 22204.
$5 fee per person due upon registration
Program #642953-F

Bug-of-the-Month Club: Beetles & True Bugs
Wednesday, Jul. 10, 3:00 - 4:00 PM
Children age 7 and up. Join us as we learn about – and hunt for – a different kind of insect each month this summer. Come to any session or all three. Meet at LBNC. Information: 703-228-6535. Fee $5/session.
$5 fee due upon registration.
Program #642923-B

Turtles Story Time
Thursday, Jul. 11, 4:00 - 4:40 PM
Ages 2-10. Register child only. Trot on over to the nature center for some stories on turtles. For information: 703-228-6535. Meet at Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Rd., Arlington, VA 22204.
Free
Program #642923-H

Show & Tell: Best Nature 'Apps'
Saturday, Jul. 13, 10:00 - 11:00 AM
Teens and Adults. Come learn about our favorite apps for the natural world. What do we find most fun, helpful and worth the download? Share your own top picks. For more information: 703-228-3403. Meet at Gulf Branch Nature Center. Free.
Free
Program #642843-C

Terrific Turtles Campfire
Saturday, Jul. 13, 7:00 - 8:00 PM
All ages. Register adults and children; children must be accompanied by a registered adult. The whole family is invited to join us at the Gulf Branch fire ring for lots of old-fashioned fun -including s'mores - as we learn about some of Arlington's terrific turtles. Information: 703-228-3403. Meet at GBNC.
$5 fee due upon registration.
Program #642853-I

Second Sundays - Remove Invasive Plants!
Sunday, Jul. 14, 2:00 - 4:30 PM
Adults, families, and teens. Keep the park free of destructive invasive plants. Work parties are held every month and are making a real difference. We are starting to see the return of wildflowers in areas once covered in ivy. Join us! Maybe you'll want to adopt an area of your own! No registration required. Free. Information: 703-228-3403. Meet at Gulf Branch Nature Center, 3608 Military Rd, Arlington, VA 22207.
Free

Arlington Animals Campfire (Bilingual)
Saturday, Jul. 20, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
All ages. Register adults and children; children must be accompanied by a registered adult. The whole family is invited to join us at the Long Branch amphitheater for lots of fun as we learn all about the wildlife in our backyards and parks. This program is also bilingual and interpreation will be in both Spanish and English! This engaging program will be filled with entertaining activities, which may include stories, games, and of course, treats like s’mores. Information: 703-228-3403. Meet at Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Rd., Arlington, VA 22204.
$5 fee per person due upon registration
Program #642953-G

Third Sundays - Remove Invasives!
Sunday, Jul. 21, 2:00 - 5:00 PM
Ages 9-Adult. Not all plants are good for the environment. Kids and adults will learn what these trouble-some beasts look like and can help rescue the park from these alien invaders! No registration required. Free. Information: 703-228-6535. Meet at Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Rd, Arlington, VA 22204.
Free

Graduate Gemologists - Spinel
Wednesday, Jul. 24, 4:00 - 5:00 PM
Ages 8 - 12. Register child only. For kids who have completed 12 months of the Gemstone Club. Young gem lovers who have collected all the birthstones can add another gem to their stashes. The spinel is sometimes called "Daughter of the Ruby" because it is found in vivid red colors, as well as gorgeous pinks and lavenders. A famous spinel is among the crown jewels of Great Britain. Participants will learn more about this lesser known gem and add a colorful spinel to their own collections. For more information: 703-228-3403. Meet at Gulf Branch Nature Center, 3608 Military Road, Arlington, VA 22207.
$10 fee due upon registration.
Program #642823-L

Cool Creek Critters
Friday, Jul. 26, 4:00 - 5:00 PM
Kids, ages 5 and up. Register children only, but an adult must attend as well. Dress to get wet as we spend some time exploring waterfalls, trying to catch water striders, and taking a closer look at some creek critters. What do they have to tell us? Be prepared for your kids to want to keep playing in the creek when the program ends… For more information: 703-228-3403. Meet at Gulf Branch Nature Center, 3608 Military Rd, Arlington, VA 22207.
$5 fee due upon registration.
Program #642823-B

Rascally Racoons Campfire
Saturday, Jul. 27, 7:00 - 8:00 PM
All ages. Register adults and children; children must be accompanied by a registered adult. The whole family is invited to join us at the Gulf Branch fire ring for lots of old-fashioned fun -including s'mores - as we learn about these engaging masked bandits! Information: 703-228-3403. Meet at GBNC.
$5 fee due upon registration.
Program #642853-J

 

 

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