Save Tysons Last Forest
Hidden behind the shopping centers and office buildings of Tysons Corner, the Old Courthouse Spring Branch Stream Valley Park (“Tysons Last Forest”) contains 33 acres of undisturbed mature trees of a Palustrine Forest, nationally-registered “wetlands,” and a stream that leads to the Chesapeake Bay. The stream, called “Old Courthouse Spring Branch,” part of Difficult Run Watershed, impacts our water quality. The stream valley provides a “100-year flood plain,” which prevents flooding during storms. The forest serves as a valuable habitat for multitudes of animals, birds, and plants. For these reasons, the state and Fairfax County protected Old Courthouse Spring Branch as a “Resource Protection Area” (RPA) and an “Environmental Quality Corridor” (EQC). If that weren’t enough, Tysons Last Forest is adjacent to the Ash Grove Historic Site, 1790 home of Lord Fairfax himself.
So when Fairfax County staff considered Tysons Last Forest a good location for a highway connection between the Dulles Toll Road and Tysons Corner, residents rallied to Save Tysons Last Forest.
- Community Meetings: On May 31, 2012, hundreds of community residents packed the local school’s cafeteria to fight for this critical resource.
- Grassroots Advocacy Campaign: By August, the “Neighborhood Coalition to Save Tysons Last Forest” had an official position, an e-mail campaign, and a website packed with substantive, detailed information about the original land deeds, the Comprehensive Plan language, and the environmental protections. See www.SaveTysonsLastForest.org
- Block Party: In September, the Coalition held a “Block Party to Save Tysons Last Forest,” and rallied with Chairman Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, Town of Vienna Leaders, and a bi-partisan state delegation of Delegate Barbara Comstock, Delegate Mark Keam, and Senator Chap Petersen.
- Congressional Support: By October, the Coalition also had bi-partisan support by the congressional delegation of Congressmembers Gerry Connolly, Jim Moran, and Frank Wolf. Click here for a complete listing of letters of support.
- Success: By December, Coalition leaders had persuaded each Fairfax County Supervisor individually.
In the end, the Neighborhood Coalition included 15 neighborhood associations from the greater-Tysons area (representing 1800 households), over 1000 petition signatures, active Facebook and Twitter followers, coverage from every local media outlet (30 media hits on television, radio, newspapers, and electronic media), as well as support from the Sierra Club, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and the Fairfax County Trails and Sidewalks Committee.
On January 15, 2013, the Fairfax Board of Supervisors officially eliminated the proposal to build a highway ramp through a protected stream valley, and the Neighborhood Coalition to Save Tysons Last Forest celebrated!
Please see the Save Tysons Last Forest website for more details. It’s a great success story of a community that believed it could fight city hall and did! www.SaveTysonsLastForest.org
Continuing Support for Tysons Last Forest
The story doesn’t end there. With potential threats from the development of Tysons urban center, our Neighborhood Coalition is ever vigilant and supportive of Tysons Last Forest.
- Art Gallery: April 2013 – Community members submitted amateur photographs of Tysons Last Forest, held a Gallery Showing and reception at a local theatre. See Art Gallery.
- Stream Cleanup: In April, every year, our extended community holds a cleanup of the Stream Valley, sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation.
- Partnership with PTA: June 2014 and 2015, the Westbriar PTA donated money to support guided Fairfax County Park Authority tours of Tysons Last Forest. 1st and 2nd grader participants felt as if they were in a nature preserve, but it was only a few blocks away.
- Sustainable Resource: 2015 – With a grant from Transurban and Fluor 495 Express Lanes Community Grant Program, the Neighborhood Coalition held a guided tour for community members, a student community outreach session, adult working sessions, and social media training, and developed this sustainable, electronic resource documenting the many benefits of Tysons Last Forest. Using social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, the community also educates and promotes Tysons Last Forest.
- Student Support: Our community’s youth have learned to advocate for what they value — like the trees and stream of Tysons Last Forest. Even the youngest child can draw pictures, voice her opinion, or even contribute toward a video.