WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Tysons Residents Fight To Preserve Area's Last Forest

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Tom Salvetti and his dog Kelsey in 'Tysons' last forest.' 
Martin Di Caro
Tom Salvetti and his dog Kelsey in 'Tysons' last forest.' 

The last sliver of green space in Tysons Corner is expected to stay green after a vote today by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The transportation committee of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to kill a plan to build a road down the middle of Old Courthouse Spring Branch Park, a 33-acre green space tucked south of Route 7. The board is responding to the protests of the group Save Tysons Last Forest, which pleaded with county transportation planners and supervisors to pick one of the other two options under consideration. 

As Tom Salvetti, a member of the group, walked the leaf-covered trails the park earlier this week, he heard the din of traffic through winter's barren branches. But he could also see a family of deer, just one of many species that live in the park.

Turtles, owls, woodpeckers, raccoons, foxes and aquatic birds al live there; this small forest is the last buffer standing between the concrete jungle of Tysons Corner and hundreds of single family homes in Fairfax County.

"Having woods here in Tysons Corner is very important," said Salvetti, who lives next to the park. "Walk around Tysons. It's all concrete and this is green space. This is dirt. This is nature."  

The park was in jeopardy until several neighborhood groups formed Save Tysons Last Forest and successfully lobbied county officials to kill a proposal to pave over it with a four-lane road connecting to the Dulles Toll Road. The road was part of plans to improve the road network around Tysons.

"It's never done until it's done, but we are very confident that the county supervisors, the congressional delegation, everyone has looked at this and said, we can't destroy this," Salvetti said as he walked his dog Kelsey through the park. "Everything here would have been clear cut."

Neighbor Lance Medric praised county leaders for listening to the complaints of residents who opposed the highway plan. A petition against the road got more than 600 signatures. 

“It means saving the few last trees that are still around. Everybody talks about it but it’s a lot easier to get rid of them," he said. "And this is a natural barrier between thousands of single family homes and a city." 

The forest is the last tie to Fairfax County's rural past, when this land was all farm and forest, not car dealerships and interstates, Salvetti added. 

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