Two Northern Virginia residents active in local conservation and recreation projects have received Interior Department awards for outstanding work.

Alexandria resident Jeanette Fitzwilliams, president of the Virginia Trails Association and head of the National Trails Council, was cited for her efforts in helping state and federal agencies establish hiking, biking and horseback-riding trails in Virginia and elsewhere in the United States.

Arlington resident Barry S. Tindall, chief of public affairs for the National Recreation and Park Association, with headquarters in Arlington, was hailed as one of the nation's "most recognized and respected leaders in the field of parks, recreation and conservation."

Tindall's "behind-the-scenes" efforts helped muster congressional support for increased Land and Water Conservation Fund grants to the states, the federal rails-to-trails program and the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program. Northern Virginia projects have profited from use of all three program funds, including the W&OD bike trail, now being built by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and land purchase for a wildlife preserve and park on Mason Neck.

Other local recipients of the Interior Department awards were top officials of two other national conservation groups with headquarters in the Washington area: The Nature Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The U.S. Forest Service also won an award for its recent efforts to increase the number of hiking, biking and equestrian trails on its land. In the past three years it has established almost 300 National Recreation. Trails covering more than 3,500 miles.

The 1980 awards from Interior's Heritage, Conservation and Recreation Service, which went to 103 groups and citizens in 36 states and England, also cited a third Virginia resident, Norfolk Mayor Lee Payne, who heads the Virginia Commission of Outdoor Recreation. It also gave awards to one of Washington's most active preservation groups, Don't Tear It Down and to the city's new Capital Children's Museum.

Don't Tear It Down has helped save numerous Washington landmarks, including the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Willard Hotel, several 19th century city school buildings and Red Lion Row, the block of Victorian townhouses facing Pennsylvania Avenue in the 2000 block of I Street NW.

The Capital Children's Museum, established three years ago, received a $1.7 million federal grant in 1978 to buy an entire city block behind Union Station at Third and H streets NW. It was cited for its efforts in "one of the most depressed (areas) of the city."

Others chosen for Interior awards were Douglas P. Wheeler of Washington, former vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, for his work in greatly expanding the trust's preservation activities, and Patrick F. Noonan of Potomac, past president of Nature Conservancy, cited for helping to "quadruple its conservation activities to the present level of 200 projects a year."

The nonprofit Nature Conservancy last year was honored by Interior for saving Virginia's barrier islands from developers. In 1979 it also gave 11 Potomac River islands near Seneca to the state of Maryland.