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Your Neighborhood: Broadlands

Discussion in 'Nature/Habitat/Garden Corner' started by OSimpson, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. OSimpson

    OSimpson Certified Master Naturalist

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    Real Estate
    By Hannah Hager
    Source: Loudoun Times-Mirror
    WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18 2009

    As one of only 25 National Wildlife Federation-certified wildlife habitat communities in the nation, Broadlands has a lot to live up to: creating an environment that happily supports flora, fauna and neighborhood folk.

    So far, residents and volunteers are sowing their futures successfully.

    "Kids need to be out and play in a natural environment -- it's very important to their development," said Oya Simpson, resident and chairman of the Broadlands volunteer organization called the Certified Community Wildlife Habitat Committee. "I think this community provides that."

    In order to be certified by the National Wildlife Federation, a community has to satisfy a handful of requirements that include hosting educational activities and classes and distributing literature that discusses wildlife. McLean in Fairfax County and all of Arlington County have also received the certification from the Reston-based organization.

    The HOA newsletter fulfills the literature requirement and the Nature Center, off Claiborne Parkway in Ashburn, acts as the central hub for the educational activities and classes.

    The Nature Center is a natural theme park for kids. Inside the front door, an indoor "bridge" takes you from the foyer to a miniature zoo-like observation center. A rabbit, a dove, a snake, several turtles and frogs have set up house there. A stream flows by just outside the center's door, and an observation patio with plenty of rocking chairs is available for those seeking some nature amid suburbia.

    The Nature Center provides maps of Stream Valley Park that outline the community's nature hot spots. Just off Claiborne Parkway, which cuts down Broadlands' central latitude, is the Stream Valley Park Nature and Information Center (known by the locals as the Nature Center), tennis courts and Hillside Elementary School. A butterfly meadow, the Broadlands community pool and Hillside Park -- which has a natural amphitheater, tennis courts, a picnic area, a large playground and the historic Le Fevre House -- are off Waxpool Road, which cuts down the neighborhood's central longitude.

    Most apparent on the map and in the community's landscape are the walking trails.

    "The path is done by the natural rock" that was excavated from the land, Simpson said. The walkways are safe for travelers of any age, as they follow the lay of the land, and the trails connect to residential cul-de-sacs, she said. In total, the walkways and trails add up to eight miles.

    Not a part of this trail network but nevertheless a pleasant natural playground for children are the wetlands near the Dulles Greenway off Ashburn Village Boulevard. Across from the new Broadlands Market Plaza, the wetlands are home to numerous native trees, shrubs and bushes and several animal species, including ducks. Benches are sprinkled throughout the mile-long boulevard, which gives children the opportunity to explore the natural environment.

    Back home, residents have the option of getting their backyard certified by the National Wildlife Federation. Certifications are sent to qualifying families; they expire if the family relocates. Currently, Simpson estimates 110 to 120 single-family homes out of 1,680 homes in Broadlands are certified. Several of Broadlands' common areas, schools and businesses, including Clyde's Willow Creek Farm, are also certified.

    In order to receive certification, families and businesses must practice sustainable landscaping by providing shelter through appropriate trees, shrubs and bushes for the native birds and pollinators. Providing food and water for animals and insects is also necessary.

    Besides its literal ties to nature, Broadlands has ties to nature through the materials used in the composition of the homes. Many of the Colonial-style homes in Broadlands are made of brick and stone. Just like with a forest of trees, the homes in Broadlands consist of similar architectural elements if viewed with a wide lens. Individually, however, not many homes are alike. Characteristics such as asymmetrical roof lines, two-story or wraparound porches and gabled windows separate one home from the next.

    The uniqueness of the properties is most evident in the price scale. The lowest list price is $250,000, compared to the highest price at $1.25 million. The average home for sale is just over $553,000, with the average sold price a little lower at $450,000.

    Even if you're not interested in Broadlands for its relationship to nature, it can be appreciated for its central location and convenience. It's just a stone's throw away from major access roads such as Route 7 and the Dulles Greenway. Shopping centers, such as the Broadlands Marketplace and Broadlands Village Center, make grocery and retail shopping a cinch.

    Either way, with an abundance of recreational activities nearby, living in Broadlands will make it difficult for you to stay cooped up in your new home for too long. It's always a good time to explore Broadlands.

    Contact the writer at hhager@timespapers.com
     

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