has made the entrance more friendly to visitors and the environment.
The center was originally built in 1978, and staff say two misjudgments were made that needed correction. An undersized trail to the front door proved inadequate for the number of visitors at the center, and two white pine trees were planted in front of the building.
"It became apparent that a paved staging area was necessary due to heavy visitor traffic that trampled the turf, compacted the soil and made turf maintenance in the area impossible," said Hidden Pond manager Jim Pomeroy. "The white pines were a bad idea in Northern Virginia’s climate, where they quickly grow and then die young, requiring removal before they fall on something important."
A small courtyard with a seating wall has been installed, and the landscape is being restored with more appropriate trees and shrubs.
The patio is constructed with an environmentally-friendly porous pavement that absorbs water into the soil to prevent runoff. "It worked perfectly," said Pomeroy. Three days after the courtyard was completed, a storm dropped one-and-a-quarter inches of rain at the nature center.