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Dawn at Lake Thoreau in Reston (photo by Terry Baranski)

A new workgroup focused on ensuring the equitable enjoyment of Reston’s lakes for all is seeking members.

Formed on Dec. 15 by Reston Association’s Board of Directors, the Lakes Equity Work Group aims to “maximize the enjoyment of Reston’s four man-made lakes for all RA members, their families and friends,” according to a release by RA.

So far, the group plans to create an equity framework to delineate current use policies, usage disaggregated by demographics and ways to focus on equity and improved access for all. Some focus areas include improving access to lakes, equal opportunities for recreation and the installation of non-discriminatory signage and use policies for all.

RA’s Board Operations Committee will interview candidates at their Feb. 6 meeting, after which the board will select the final members at its Feb. 23 board meeting.

The eight-member group will include one voting RA staff representative and two non-voting staff liaisons.

The application can be found online. It asks candidates to detail their relevant experience and what their goals and objectives would be for the working group. Applications are due by next Friday (Jan. 27).

The group plans to begin work in March. A draft report is set to go before the board in the fourth quarter of the year.

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A November dawn at Lake Audubon in Reston (photo by Ray Copson)

Lake Audubon — a man-made lake in Reston — may soon chart new waters with a new name.

Reston Association’s Board of Directors has begun preliminary conversations to consider launching a community dialogue on potentially renaming the lake, which is named after 19th century artist and known enslaver John James Audubon.

The move, pitched by at-large director John Farrell, would kickstart a community dialogue on the possibility of a name change. Early next year, Farrell and others will host an exploratory meeting with area stakeholders to discuss whether or not there is interest in changing the name of the lake.

“It seems to me that there needs to be a reconciliation of our fundamental founding principles of inclusion with this guy’s history,” Farrell said at a Dec. 15 board meeting.

Audubon enslaved at least nine people and was publicly dismissive of the abolitionist movement.

Earlier this month, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to rename Lee District to Franconia District. The effort is part of a series of moves to disentangle the county from names honoring Confederate leaders.

Farrell pointed to two articles from Audubon Magazine that highlight Audubon’s history, which state that he enslaved several people and didn’t recognize black and indigenous people as equals. They also highlight a story in which Audubon returned a family of escaped slaves to their enslavers and say the ornithologist was “prone to exaggeration,” writing about discovered birds that did not exist.

In October 2021, the Audubon Naturalist Society — a major US conservation group — said it will change its name due to the “pain” caused by Audubon.

“The deliberate and thoughtful decision to change our name is part of our ongoing commitment to creating a larger and more diverse community of people who treasure the natural world and work to preserve it. It has become clear that this will never be fully possible with the current name,” ANS Executive Director Lisa Alexander said in a news report on the issue.

Audobon is famed for his studies of American birds.

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A November dawn at Lake Audubon in Reston (photo by Ray Copson)

Reston Association is working on the creation of an equity group with a focus on its lakes.

If created, the work group would focus on maximizing the enjoyment of Reston’s four man-made lakes for its members.

The Equity Working Group will develop an equity framework that clearly defines current use policies, usage by demographics, opportunities for improvement and make policy recommendations that focus on equity and improved access for all,” says a proposal set to go before RA’s Board of Directors at its meeting tonight.

The group could focus on improving access to lakes, equal opportunities for recreation, and non-discriminatory signage or use policies.

Reston has four man-made lakes: Lake Anne, Lake Thoreau, Lake Audubon and Lake Newport, which collectively span 125 acres.

According to the meeting agenda, the proposed group could consist of:

  • A voting member representative from each of the four lake communities
  • Four voting member representatives from non-lake condominium or apartment communities in each district
  • A voting staff representative selected by RA’s CEO
  • Two non-voting staff liaisons, including RA’s watershed manager and human resources director

The idea came at the suggestion of director Erwin Flashman and board president Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza.

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