The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) released the draft policies for the Parks & Open Space Element Update of the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital for public review and comment through Monday, May 7. Public comments may be submitted online or by mail.
The draft has a whole section on trails that reflects recent changes and the new Paved Trails Study
As the area continues to grow, trail usage has increased, encouraging federal and local governments to address challenges associated with meeting commuter and visitor needs and expanding the trail network. Although the region has hundreds of miles of trails on the ground, they are not all connected in a cohesive, easy-to-navigate network. Administered by multiple jurisdictions with different design standards, trail segments were built at different times when funding was available.
The Capital Trails Coalition (Coalition), a collaboration of public and private organizations, agencies, and citizen volunteers, is an effort to unify the region’s trails by advancing the completion of an interconnected network of multi-use trails in the region. The Coalition’s goals include closing gaps, improving trail access, and creating a network that links communities and major destinations in the region; promoting health and physical activity; and helping spur both economic development and trail tourism.
More on the draft
Last updated in 2004, the element establishes policies to protect and enhance the many federal parks and open spaces in the National Capital Region and promote improvements to the regional open space network. NCPC uses these policies to guide agency actions, including review of projects and long-range plans that affect federal parks and open spaces.
The update introduces policies that address current issues, such as adapting designed landscapes or balancing commemorative works with active uses in parks. The element includes information and policies referencing the Capper-Cramton Act that provided federal funding to acquire parkland in the region and authorized NCPC to review development projects in these parks to ensure their protection. It also incorporates information from recent planning studies such as the Small Parks Management Strategies Study completed by NCPC and the National Park Service.
The proposed Parks & Open Space Element is structured around six guiding principles that create a cohesive vision through improved stewardship, utilization, maintenance, planning, and design, as follows:
- Protect the Parks and Open Space Design Legacy
- Provide Stewardship of Natural and Cultural Resources
- Provide Access to and Connections between Parks and Open Space
- Balance Multiple Uses within Parks
- Balance Commemorative Works within Parks
- Build Partnerships and Coordination among Multiple Landowners and Jurisdictions
NCPC will host two public open houses for the public and the media to learn more about the updates:
- Wednesday, March 21 (6:00—7:30 pm)
- Thursday, April 12 (10:30 am—noon)
Both meetings will cover the same content.