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Tour: Mason Neck
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Friends of Mason Neck State Park

Mason Neck is a peninsula formed by Pohick Bay and Gunston Cove to the north, the Potomac River to the east, and Belmont Bay, Occoquan Bay and the Occoquan River to the south. The peninsula is an active heron rookery. The park also attracts several other migrating and non-migrating species of birds, including whistling swans and assorted species of duck. Bald Eagles also inhabit the area. The park boasts several hundred acres of hardwood forests consisting of oaks, holly, hickory and other species of trees. In addition, several wetland areas are also found in Mason Neck.

Mason Neck combines valuable natural, historical, and recreational resources in a serene setting that belies its proximity to a large metropolitan area. The area is famous as the location of both Gunston Hall (the plantation home of George Mason, drafter of the Virginia Bill of Rights, Mason Neck has significant park reserves for wildlife habitats and recreational boating, camping and fishing. The Mason Neck National Wildlife Preserve is on the Potomac River with walking trails to the Great Marsh. It is the first preserve to protect the Bald Eagle. Mason Neck State Park, on the Occoquan Bay shore, provides wildlife preserve as well as a car-top boat launch, walking trails as well as an environmental education visitor center. Gunston Hall, is on the Pohick Bay Shore. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority operates Pohick Bay Regional Park with boating, camping, and swimming, as well as Pohick Bay Golf Course.

Mason Neck is also known as being an area for horse enthusiasts with several commercial boarding stables. The Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, operates Meadowood Special Recreation and Management Area, previously known as the Lynch's Meadowood Farm which is home to many recreational horses and horse organizations. Also, it is the site of BLM Wild Horse and Burro Adoptions. The visitor center on Belmont Blvd. is the entry point for miles of trails on Meadowood.

Old Colchester Road defines the Mason Neck Area. The old road continues through the pre Civil War historic port town of Colchester and right into the Occoquan River where a ferry served before Rt. 1 was built across the river. Today the old house standing on the corner of Old Colchester Road and Gunston Road which was the Shepherd's Store with a gas pump is to be restored as a link to Lorton's past. Across the road from that is the cemetery of Cranford UMC with a marker indicating the original location of Pohick Church.

Events :Elizabeth Hartwell Educational Education Day,

History: In 1965, the Mason Neck Conservation Committee was formed after two Bald Eagle nests were spotted at Mason Neck. The committee, concerned about impending development on the peninsula, recommended part of the area to be used as a site for a state park. In August 1967 the commonwealth began purchasing land parcels from The Nature Conservancy with the assistance of matching federal grants.

A series of events threatened the sanctity of Mason Neck in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After plans for a proposed beltway through the area were dropped in 1967, an airport, a natural gas pipeline, a landfill and a sewer line were proposed for the area. These proposals met strong opposition from groups such as the Mason Neck Conservation Committee. Plans for the projects were dropped because of the potential negative impact each had on the federally operated Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Mason Neck State Park opened to the public in April 1985.

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