Saturday, August 24: Today, I go with Mike, Alex & Bailey on a short 3 mile walk through Scott’s Run Nature Preserve along the Potomac River. This park wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for citizen protesters in the late 1960s and early 1970s who fought against development of the area.
We walk through mature hardwood forests of large oak and beech trees, among ancient hemlock and wild cherry trees. We toss sticks into the Potomac River for Bailey; we clamber up cliffs and across creeks. We lose Alex for a while and when Mike makes a strange bird call, Alex answers back from the depths of the forest. We add stones to a large cairn in the middle of the creek and find leaves rippling under flowing water. Alex does hand stands and leg lifts. I find fungi on fallen tree trunks and photograph the strange colors and shapes from every angle. We discover initials carved into a large tree that tell of those who have gone before us.
It’s hot today, but I can feel fall is around the corner. I can’t wait.
Scott’s Run is the main creek that runs through the park. It winds to its journey’s end where it spills over a small yet lovely waterfall before entering the Potomac River
Scott’s Run was once a battlefield between developers and environmentalists. Mike remembers going with high school friends in 1970 to a Fairfax County Board Meeting where opposing sides presented arguments for and against the formation of a park. It turned into a major battle. According to the website for Fairfax County, Virginia: Scott’s Run Nature Preserve:
In the 1960s, there were 336 wooded acres along the Georgetown Pike known as the Burling Tract. The land had belonged to an attorney named Edward Burling, Sr., who had a secluded cabin at the site. A developer bought the land after Burling’s death in 1966 and proposed 309 cluster homes for the area that would have left about half of the site as preserved, open land.
Neighbors saw small rezoning signs in the woods, and the clash of philosophies was under way. A citizen movement to stop the development arose, and the conflict of ideas that followed over the next year eventually enveloped county residents, the governor of Virginia and local elected officials, four U. S. senators, conservation and park agencies, the federal government, the New York Times, a national conservation organization, developers, protesting high school students and door-to-door petitioners.
Eventually a local public referenda passed as voters decided to tax themselves one and a-half million dollars to buy the land, although negotiations over the price continued. Eventually the U.S. Department of the Interior provided $3.6 million dollars to buy the land, which today belongs to the Fairfax County Park Authority.