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Preserving Nature In Arlington

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By Cathy Carter

Only about 4 percent of Arlington, Virginia is still considered natural land, and city officials are working on a plan to take care of what's there.

This is not a story about stopping development. Arlington's already developed to the hilt. It's about protecting the resources that already exist there. That's good news for a tight budget.

"What a lot of people don't understand is that conservation is generally cheap, cause we're talking about not building things instead of building things," says Greg Zell, a natural resource specialist for Arlington County.

For the last two years Zell has documented all the plant species and wildlife in the county and even discovered some new wetlands. Now he's ready to unveil a plan to preserve those limited resources. He thinks one of the most effective ways to do that is with a computerized map.

"Planners, designers, all of those people who would potentially do projects in the future could instantly click on a mouse, and on their computer they could see where these resources are located so we can start to design our development and projects around those known resources that we have," he says.

Zell says one of the best management practices is simply to leave something alone for people to enjoy.

Arlington residents can hear more about his proposals at a public forum tonight at 7 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School.

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