This series will focus on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at our Virginia State Parks. Part 8 asks the question "Is this an eagle feather? Can I keep it?" and more FAQs fromk.
Adult eagles perch and guard the nest while eaglets rest
IsMason Neck State Parkfresh or salt water?
Are dogs with well behaved owners are allowed to visit Mason Neck State Park?
You can rent me at the park!
Family fun at the park via kayak or canoe
SO WHAT ABOUT SALT WATER, DOGS, CANOES AND FEATHERS?
Jennifer L. Davis, Park Naturalist at Mason Neck State Park would like to share some FAQs from her park and the answers:
1 – Do you rent boats?
Yes, we rent canoes and kayaks from April to October.
2 – Can I bring my dog/pet?
Yes, as long as your pet stays on a leash and under control
3 – Are you open today?
Yes, we are open every day, 365 days a year. (If we have a weather event like a hurricane or blizzard or trees block the road and we have to close, we will post a banner alert on the park's web page. When in doubt, check it before leaving home).
4. Are there any eagles here?
Yes, Mason Neck State Park has a resident bald eagle population of approximately 60-80 eagles who live here year-round. There are 5 active bald eagle nests here at the park.
5. Is the water (Belmont Bay) fresh water or salt water?
The water of Belmont Bay are mostly fresh water, although it can occasionally become brackish (a mix of fresh and salt water).
6. Is this an eagle feather? Can I keep it?
We frequently have people bring in eagle feathers they find here in the park. The eagle feathers are protected under the U.S. Federal Eagle Protection Act of 1940 which prohibits people from having any part of an eagle (bald and golden eagles), including their feathers, in their possession. If you have a feather or are trying to sell an eagle feather you are in violation of U.S. Federal Law. You can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $100,000. Other native bird feathers from here in the park might be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which if a person is caught with a protected feather from a migratory bird species (including common birds like northern cardinals, blue jays, and mourning doves) the charge is a misdemeanor and the person could be fined up to $15,000. These two acts not only protect the birds themselves, but also their nesting activities.
We collect all the eagle feathers people bring to us at the park and send them to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife repository in Colorado where the eagle feathers are counted and then distributed to Native American peoples who can apply to receive these feathers. The feathers are very significant for the Native American culture and used in healing ceremonies and in ritual attire. This way Native Americans can still obtain eagle feathers legally, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service can regulate the distribution to eliminate the need for a feather “black market."
Learn more about Mason Neck State Park here.Just a short drive from Washington, D.C., this Northern Virginia park offers many outdoor activities and programs. It has hiking trails, three miles of paved multi-use trails, a large picnic area, a playground, a car-top canoe launch and a visitor center. Canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals are also available. Bird watching, especially for American bald eagles, and guided canoe trips of Kane's Creek and Belmont Bay are favorites with park visitors. The park's wetlands, forest, open water, ponds and open fields make it ideal for environmental study and wildlife observation. Nearby attractions include the Elizabeth Hartwell National Wildlife Refuge, Gunston Hall and Pohick Bay Regional Park.
Click here for a Google map.
Mason Neck State Park, 7301 High Point Road, Lorton, VA 22079-4010; Phone: 703-339-2380 (visitor center); email masonneck.
VIRGINIA STATE PARKS ARE ALL ABOUT FAMILY – FRIENDS – FUN and FEATHERS (but you have to leave them at the park!)