Help Save Winkler Botanical Preserve!

I have just learned about a threat to Winkler Botanical Preserve in western Alexandria, Virginia, an irreplaceable natural gem in the heart of my densely-populated urban neighborhood.

The Department of Defense's BRAC 133 is currently being built right next to the Preserve, and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has proposed a new highway access ramp to 395 that would cut right through the Preserve.

The Winkler Botanical Preserve is managed by a private 501(c)3 organization with a mission to provide free environmental education for the students of the Alexandria City Public Schools. The Preserve is open to the public everyday (except major holidays) and enjoyed by many, both in our immediate neighborhood and for miles around. The VDOT proposal would acquire Preserve land via eminent domain.

It is vitally important that area transportation be improved without destroying this valuable nature preserve.

Winkler Botanical Preserve, though only about 45 acres, is home to more than 70 species of trees and 650 species of wildflowers and other plants, all indigenous to the Potomac River Valley, as well as home to many species of native wildlife.

The Preserve is beautiful, a perfect place for walking and easy day hikes either alone or with family and friends.

Winkler Botanical Preserve is also a key source of free environmental education for the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS). Every child in first through fifth grades visits at least two times a year to explore local Virginia
flora and fauna. More than 12,000 students from 13 elementary and two middle schools visit Winkler Botanical Preserve annually. Many of these ACPS students live in densely-populated urban areas and have very limited exposure to nature and the outdoors. More than 50% of the ACPS students are considered "students at risk." The Preserve also offers popular nature camps in summer and during spring and winter breaks.

On December 12, 2009, the Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to protect the Preserve and not support any VDOT plan that would negatively impact the Preserve. Virginia Delegates Charniele Herring (46th District) and David Englin (45th District), have pledged to help save Winkler, as has Congressman Jim Moran.

Unfortunately, this may not be enough. The VDOT is still leaning toward the proposal that would cut into the Preserve.

Please do whatever you can to help protect this green treasure, this oasis, in the midst of our neighborhood. I truly believe it is possible to provide both creative traffic solutions AND keep this priceless botanical preserve whole and intact, and there is no question that the effort is worthwhile!

Alexandria Public School students are creating an environmental impact report in hopes of saving the Preserve:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/31/AR2...
Friends of Winkler are leading local efforts, though they are not alone:
http://www.friendsofwinkler.org/

Please, sign the petition, write some letters, and share this urgent message with anyone else who may be able to help!

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Comment by Cat on April 13, 2010 at 1:44pm
Fantastic!
Comment by Suz Lipman on April 12, 2010 at 5:53pm
I just saw on the Save Winkler Preserve Facebook page that the preservationists have won, at least for now. Is that your take? If so, congrats! (This came from a link on the FB page - http://bit.ly/9iNudz).
Comment by Suz Lipman on April 11, 2010 at 8:51pm
Hi Cat, You'll be happy to know that this story is featured on our C&NN web site as a news story. It's here: http://bit.ly/awxjVZ Keep us posted ..
Comment by Cat on April 6, 2010 at 1:20pm
Thanks, Suz!

Not only do I hope the Winkler Botanical Preserve will be saved, I hope this post will encourage people to seek out similar wonders in their own neighborhoods, enjoy them with friends and family, and protect those places too! You never know what amazing things might be right around the corner!
Comment by Suz Lipman on April 5, 2010 at 1:15pm
Hi Cat. I really appreciate you posting this and I hope the forum helps you spread the word. The preserve does sound like a beautiful and important natural place. I hope you are able to prevail over the VDOT so that future generations can enjoy it. One gone, of course, it will be gone forever. I signed the petition - it only took a moment. Keep us posted.

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