Friends of 
Mason Neck State Park


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  • 17 Jun 2018 2:54 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    June 2018 Newsletter




    More than 4300 people enjoyed a perfect day and interesting activities at Mason Neck State Park's annual Eagle Festival. 


    Crowds filled the Wildlife tent for a full day of live animal shows, including Buddy the Eagle, reptiles and raptors.  


    More than 20 environmental organizations presented information and activities.

    The Friends of Mason Neck State Park raised the funds for the Festival, recruited the 27 volunteers that helped the Festival run smoothly and provided drinks and snacks for the volunteers and exhibitors.


    A heartfelt THANK YOU to our generous sponsors who made the Festival possible:

    Third-Year Sponsors

    George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution 

    Hallowing Point Association

    I-95 Business Parks Management 

    Mason Neck Citizens Association

    Wegmans Food Markets

    Second-year Sponsors

    The Carly and Frank Fiorina Family Fund

    Chaney Enterprises





    During the Eagle Festival, Park Manager Reinhardt Gray unveiled the Visitor Center’s renovated Exhibit Hall.  In a ceremony, Reinhardt announced that the exhibit hall has been named The Charlotte and Gary Knipling Hall, in recognition of the Kniplings' long-term commitment to Mason Neck State Park and their willingness to help the park in any way they can.




    More than 25 photographers aged 4 to 15 entered the Eagle Festival Junior Ranger Photo Contest.  Each of the five winners  received a backpack filled with prizes and a free place in Mason Neck State Park's Junior Ranger program. 

    Here are the contest winners:

                                          Shayan Ahmed - Age 8

      Stephanie Arroyave - Age 11



     Alejandro Arroyave - Age 5

    Kierlyn Sherman - Age 11

                                          Jasmine Sklarew - Age 10




    At a ceremony at the Eagle Festival, Dan Storck, Fairfax County Supervisor for the Mount Vernon District, received the Mason Neck Citizens Association Man of the Year award.  Dan received the award for his efforts to protect the environmental resources and maintain the bucolic nature of Mason Neck.  




    Can you help us keep the Chesapeake Bay clean?  Volunteers will participate in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's annual Clean the Bay Day by removing trash from the shoreline at Mason Neck State Park on Saturday, June 2 from 9 AM until noon.  Trash floats down the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers and some of it washes up on the Park's shoreline.  

    You can help make the Park more beautiful and also ensure that the trash doesn't end up in the Chesapeake Bay!   Friends of Mason Neck State Park will be there to provide drinks and snacks to help you along.   Most of the volunteers will walk along the shoreline, but some of us will be paddling canoes up to Sandy Point to clean trash there too.  If you would like to participate in that part of the cleanup, please wear shoes that you don't mind getting wet.





    We would love to have you join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park!  Memberships fund the many Park activities we support each year.  And for as little as $20 per year, you will enjoy monthly newsletters, emails about special events and priority registration for special events such as our annual Swanfall in December and other activities during the year. You can sign up right here:  Join the Friends!

  • 04 Apr 2018 1:52 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    About thirty people participated in members-only tours of the colonial-era Lexington Plantation archaeological site on March 31.  George Mason V, the son of George Mason of Gunston Hall, was the first owner of the plantation, which is located in an area of the Mason Neck State Park that is normally closed to visitors.

    We had a pleasant walk through the early spring woods to the site, thanks to the Park Staff, who had cleared fallen trees and leaves along the way; there is no established trail.  

    Three of the Friends related the history of the plantation and explained the buildings, ice house and unique falling gardens at the site.  

    No buildings remain at the site; the residence burned to the ground in 1879.  However, the cellar hole and rubble from the two chimneys are still visible, as is debris from the office, dairy, kitchen and smokehouse.  

    The outlet from a massive ice house and the well are still visible.


    The site, which was once cleared, is now becoming re-forested.  However, heirloom "Van Sion" double daffodils, which were originally planted when the plantation house was inhabited, are still visible at the site, as they are elsewhere on Mason Neck and other old homesites.  



    To preserve the archaeological site, access to Lexington is prohibited except on formal tours, which are scheduled once every year or two.  

  • 05 Jan 2018 2:48 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    Despite frigid temperatures, there was a good turnout to hike at Mason Neck State Park on January 1.  It was a cold but brilliantly sunny day, and Belmont Bay was full of ice.  

    The parking lot was nearly full, as more than fifty people showed up to hike on their own or participate in one of the Park's three guided hikes. 

    The Friends of Mason Neck State Park provided hot refreshments, allowing hikers to warm up a bit before or after their excursions.  Hot chocolate was especially popular among the younger hikers.  

  • 10 Dec 2017 9:56 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    "Spirit of America", the life-sized Bald Eagle Sculpture commissioned by the Friends of Mason Neck State Park, was unveiled and dedicated at a ceremony on Sunday, December 10. 

    The sculpture was created by noted sculptor 

    Mike Curtis of Sagle, Idaho.

    More than 50 people showed up for the ceremony, including Delegate-Elect Kathy Tran, Delegate Dave Albo, and Supervisor Dan Storck.


    Guests enjoyed delicious refreshments, including specially-commissioned  Bald Eagle cookies.  

    Mason Neck State Park is the only State Park in Virginia with a sculpture that reflects the image and purpose of the park. 

            "Spirit of America" will greet visitors to the park for many years to come.  

  • 06 Dec 2017 1:53 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    David Stapleton, who has served as Mason Neck State Park's Assistant Manager for 25 years, retires at the end of December.  David spent 34 years with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, including stints at Holiday Lake, Hungry Mother, Pocahontas and Douthat State Parks, before coming to Mason Neck State Park in 1992.  Friends, family, Park Staff and DCR personnel celebrated David's service to the Park at a luncheon at the Jammes house on December 2.  The Friends of Mason Neck State Park provided a barbecue lunch and cake and gave David a book of Randy Streufert's photographs of the Park's wildlife so he won't forget his furry, feathered and scaled friends.  

  • 04 Dec 2017 11:35 AM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)


    The Friends of Mason Neck State Park’s

    Swanfall 2017 Was Completely Sold Out!

    More than 60 guests attended Swanfall 2017 on December 3, 2017.  The Jammes House, a former hunting lodge on the banks of Occoquan Bay in Mason Neck State Park, was decorated for the holidays, and guests enjoyed a delicious buffet in this unique home.  

    Paul Baicich, the co-author of the recently-published book “The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl" and President of the Friends of the Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp, spoke about the effect of changing demographics on waterfowl populations, efforts to acquire and preserve waterfowl habitat, and the habits and habitat of cavity-nesting waterfowl such as the Wood Duck and the Hooded Merganser.  

    A silent auction featured the stunning photographs of Randy Streufert, whose stunning pictures of wildlife on Mason Neck have graced the cover of Virginia Wildlife magazine and the walls of the Park’s Visitor Center.  


    And guests enjoyed a stunning sunset as they left the James House.
  • 23 Oct 2017 10:37 AM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    The Friends of Mason Neck State Park and other volunteers helped make the Park's annual Park After Dark event a success.  Volunteers were costumed characters for the childrens' Enchanted Forest walks, helped guide the Enchanted Forest walks and the No-Lights Night Hikes, told stories around the campfire and served cider and the ingredients for s'mores.

  • 02 Oct 2017 1:39 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    Twenty-four volunteers helped to clean up the Belmont Bay Shoreline for National Public Lands Day on September 30.  The Friends of Mason Neck State Park were on hand to help register the volunteers, hand out gloves, provide refreshments and water and coordinate the cleanup efforts.  Volunteers collected bottles, cans, styrofoam, plastic, and pieces of decking and planks that had washed up over the summer.  The cleanups, which are scheduled three times a year, are vital to maintaining the appearance of the Park and the health of the environment.

    Special thanks to eMotion Dance of Reston, whose ten volunteers were a big help in cleaning up the shoreline.  


  • 24 Sep 2017 4:48 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    Sixty-five people turned out for the Friends of Mason Neck State Park's Owl Moon event on September 23.  Two speakers from Secret Garden: Birds and Bees briefed the audience on a typical year in the life of Screech Owls, Barred Owls, Barn Owls and Great Horned Owls.  They also brought with them a Barred Owl, a Barn Owl and a Great Horned Owl for the audience to see and photograph.  

    Everyone enjoyed the program and the opportunity to view these seldom-seen birds up close.  But the highlight of the evening was watching the Great Horned Owl seize and devour a mouse.  



  • 27 Aug 2017 2:52 PM | Thomas Blackburn (Administrator)

    Dixie Sommers, who is a Friend of Mason Neck State Park and the Treasurer of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, led a bird walk along the Bayview Trail on Sunday morning, August 27.  We enjoyed a perfect day as we tallied 37 species.  Highlights included very good views of a Great Crested Flycatcher, a Prothonotary Warbler and a Red-eyed Vireo.  We also enjoyed numerous butterflies and some of the late summer flowers.


    Audubon Society of Northern VA birders       Juvenile Eastern Bluebird

    Tiger Swallowtails on Joe Pye Weed           Northern Rough-winged Swallows

    Cardinal Flower

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