Fire at Huntley Meadows Park?

Huntley Meadows

Huntley Meadows is a 4500 acre park in Fairfax County, but today the park service only maintains about 30 acres of meadows. The remainder of the park is following the natural life cycle of the land.

In the days before Columbus, Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley were mostly a sprawling meadow, and even here on the East Coast we had bison herds. The meadows are not the natural state here though, and they were maintained by natives who burned and cut the forest from time to time to leave room for the big herding animals. Left on its own, the land here will slowly revert to a hardwood forest. In Huntley Meadows, visitors can explore this forest by way of many trails and paths.

Huntley Meadows trees

The change to forest happens over time. When the meadows first fall fallow, weeds rush in. In a few years brambles and honeysuckle mix in with fast growing trees like locusts or cedars. Eventually the tree canopy grows so thick that the vines and undergrowth begin to die off. In dry months, this undergrowth becomes brittle and fires are easy to start. Left unchecked, nature will start its own fire to clear the undergrowth and to replenish the hardwoods as they grow.

vines and duff

The forests of Huntley Meadows are young. This is evidenced not only by the diameter of the trunks and by the types of trees that are tallest. It’s also evidenced by the duff, or undergrowth, that is heavy in parts of the forest. The park’s management recently ignited a number of controlled burns to clear up the duff and to help keep the forest healthy.

fire at Huntley Meadows

You’ll see signs of the fire along many paths in the park.

feathers at Huntley Meadows

Huntley Meadows is also popular with birdwatchers. I found these feathers scattered along the trail. Perhaps a fox found a meal here? I am curious what type of bird this might have been.

Neighborhoods near Huntley Meadows

Here are a few resources for house hunters in Northern Virginia:

  • Huntley Meadows — a map of the park with homes for sale nearby
  • Kingstowne — condos, houses and townhouses for sale in and near Kingstowne
  • Hayfield Farm — Single family homes near the Coast Guard station
  • Woodstone — Townhouses and single family houses near Huntley Meadows
  • Stoneybrooke — Single family homes between Groveton Hieghts and Huntley Meadows

Will Nesbitt About the AuthorWill Nesbitt is the principal broker of Nesbitt Realty and maintains Condo Alexandria. Will specializes in condos, townhouses and single family residences in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne. Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in Fairfax County.