BLM makes improvements at Mason Neck’s multipurpose pavilion

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Workers prepare to install gutters and snow bars on the roof of the multipurpose pavilion Dec. 16 at Mustang Loop.

The multipurpose pavilion at Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) in Lorton had gutters and snow bars installed on its roof at the end of December, according to a spokesperson from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The installation was unrelated to the utility and parking lot improvements project that BLM eventually plans to pursue at the facility, which is located at the corner of Gunston and Harley Roads on Mason Neck — an area known as Mustang Loop. This past fall, BLM finalized the environmental assessment for the project and determined it would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

Once funding has been identified for the facility improvements — at present, BLM is still operating under a continuing resolution — the agency plans to solicit architectural and engineering design assistance through a competitive bidding process, said Kristen Peters, deputy state director for communications with BLM – Eastern States. The contractor selection process will take several months, she said.

In response to community feedback solicited in early 2023 on the draft environmental assessment, BLM plans to relocate a pollinator garden situated by the existing gravel parking lot to another location within Mustang Loop, said Peters. Originally, BLM had proposed moving the garden, which was built by volunteers in 2010, to the Hidden Pond area of the Meadowood SRMA; however, local residents were concerned it would be too inaccessible there. The relocated garden will be at least the same size, if not larger, than the existing one, consist of native plants and be routinely monitored for invasives and weeds, according to BLM documents.

Community feedback also factored into BLM’s decision to design an “appropriately sized parking lot with features to address water runoff,” said Peters. The agency plans to use a contractor to design a parking area that adopts Fairfax County best management practices to meet state and county stormwater management requirements. BLM opted, however, to stick with its plan to pave the parking lot with asphalt instead of permeable pavement due to the labor-intensive nature of installing and maintaining specialized materials.

Besides paving the parking lot and moving the pollinator garden, BLM will add water and electric utility services at the pavilion.

The ultimate goal of the project is to provide a “safe, low maintenance parking area to support planned activities and events at the multipurpose pavilion and provide a safe area for visitors to enjoy the pollinator garden,” according to BLM. The agency noted that between 2021 and April 2023, 10,625 visitors came to the Mustang Loop trailhead, making it the second highest used parking lot and trailhead in the Meadowood SRMA.

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