Mason Neck, Virginia
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Mason Neck is a peninsula jutting into the Potomac River to the south of Washington, DC. It is surrounded also by Belmont Bay to the west, Gunston Cove to the east, and Pohick Bay to the northeast. The unincorporated community of Mason Neck forms the southernmost section of Fairfax County, in Northern Virginia, and comprises an area of approximately 9,000 acres (36 km2), two-thirds of which is preserved as parkland by regional, state, and national authorities. The Census Bureau defines Mason Neck as a census-designated place (CDP) with a population of 2,005 as of 2010.
The Mason Neck peninsula was inhabited by the Dogue Indian tribe prior to the arrival of European settlers. The recorded history of Mason Neck began around 1775 with the construction of Gunston Hall, the plantation home of Virginian statesman and author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, George Mason. Mason Neck is also the location of Pohick Church, frequented by both Mason and George Washington, and Cranford Methodist Church, which was built in 1857 and served as a hospital during the American Civil War.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, much of the land was used for the logging of mature pine and hardwood timber. Over time, pollution and habitat destruction caused a decline in the bald eagle population. By the 1960s, much of the forest had grown back, but residential development as a suburb of Washington DC posed another threat. In 1969, local residents and conservation groups achieved the establishment of the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, with the specific objective of protecting the bald eagle. This, along with Mason Neck State Park and Pohick Bay Regional Park, provides a variety of recreational activities while preserving the land's natural resources
During the 1980s, the Lynch family traded Fairfax County officials their Mason Neck land holdings in exchange for 900 acres of land near the Lorton Prison. This 900 acre land plot, procured by Lynch in exchange for his Mason Neck land holdings, became the housing development known as Crosspointe. Many of the suburban subdivisions located around the Lorton Prison are built on land that the Lynch family once owned. The Mason Neck land that was traded to the county later became a state controlled nature reserve called Meadow Woods.[dubious ]
In addition to bald eagles, Mason Neck is home to a variety of different animal species. Birds include the Great Blue Heron, Canadian geese, ospreys, wood ducks, teal, owls, and woodpeckers. Whitetail deer are common, along with beavers, muskrats, groundhogs, and fox. A diverse population of frogs and toads can be heard on summer nights. Eastern box turtles, Eastern snapping turtles, wood turtles, and spotted turtles can all be found around ponds, streams, and marshes, as well as snakes, such as the Northern Copperhead and the Northern Black Racer.
- Virginia Trend Report 2: State and Complete Places (Sub-state 2010 Census Data). Missouri Census Data Center. Accessed 2011-06-08.
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (April 2004). Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Department of the Interior.
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