With 1,093 developed acres and 352 undeveloped acres of parkland to maintain, Stafford’s parks employees have a big job. Each of the more than 1.2 million visitors to the parks each year can help the County by practicing the principles of “Leave No Trace,” a framework of minimum impact practices that together have maximum impact. Whether you are spending all day at a soccer field, walking on a narrow trail in Crow’s Nest, playing on a playground at Chichester Park, or paddling at Lake Mooney, remember to leave the park the way you found it. This one act will help Stafford preserve its beautiful outdoor resources for years to come for all of us to enjoy.
“I think we have one of the best park systems in Virginia,” said Stafford County Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Director Michael Morris. “We all have to work together to keep it that way. It is important to familiarize yourself, family and friends with how to leave no trace when visiting our parks.”
The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace include: Plan Ahead and Prepare; Travel on Durable Surfaces; Dispose of Waste Properly; Leave What You Find; Minimize Campfire Impacts; Respect Wildlife; Be Considerate of Others.
- Plan Ahead and Prepare – One of the first things to consider when visiting one of Stafford’s parks is the appropriateness of the terrain for everyone in the group. Do you have the supplies you need – water, sunscreen, snacks? It is wise to be familiar with park hours – November 1 – Mid-March – 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Mid-March through October 31 – 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Pets must be on leashes. No alcohol is allowed.
- Travel on Durable Surfaces – Be mindful of staying on the trail in natural areas to avoid damage to the land or waterways. Similarly, ride bikes on trails or hard surfaces, not playing fields.
- Dispose of Waste Properly – If you do not see a trash can, that means you need to take out everything you brought – be prepared for that. Stafford asks that you toss all trash you bring to games or playgrounds in the provided receptacles – again, leaving the area the same as when you came.
- Leave What You Find - Allow others a sense of discovery by leaving rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Minimize Campfire Impacts – This is an easy one because no fire is allowed in any Stafford parks except in grills in places designated by the County.
- Respect Wildlife – Learn about wildlife by watching it quietly. Some of Stafford’s parks have very diverse, precious ecosystems full of all kinds of animals, birds and fish. Observe wildlife from a distance, so they are not scared or forced to flee.
- Be Considerate of Others – If you do the above things, you will be very considerate. We all have to do our part to keep our parks pristine and welcoming.
For more information on Stafford County Parks, visit www.staffordparks.com. For more on the Principles of Leave No Trace, visit www.lnt.org. Stafford County thanks you for your care and attention to its parks.