Silver Lake Park – A Jewel Worth Protecting

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Hooded Merganser at Silver Lake

When Silver Lake was given to the Parks Dept. for use as a “nature-based park,” many people were concerned about Prince William County’s (PWC) ability to manage the property properly. Today, we know those concerns were justified.

PWC offered the use of Silver Lake Park for a Tough Mudder event on June 1. Considerable damage to environmental resources resulted and the remediation plan, which no one has seen, does not appear to be going well on the ground.

Clearly our Parks Dept. has not recognized or treated Silver Lake Park as the jewel that it is. This reflects very poorly on PWC. In particular, our Parks Dept. has failed to invest in opportunities to improve the quality of natural areas or pursued opportunities to create community programs – from butterfly gardens and bird identification classes to outdoor programs for families.

Silver Lake is a birding “hot spot” that is visited by birders from all over Northern Virginia and beyond, who have recorded 197 bird species, including some rare birds such as American Avocet and Olive-sided Flycatcher. Silver Lake is currently home to a colony of Red-headed Woodpeckers. Barred Owls nest at Silver Lake and Bald Eagles are regularly seen fishing in the Lake and quarry pond.

In September 2009 two globally rare plant communities were found at Silver Lake. Both were located in the area planned for transfer to PWCS, which unfortunately impacted portions of these resources.

What other treasures are waiting to be discovered at Silver Lake? We need to improve local stewardship to protect our important natural areas. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section!

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