Prince William Conservation Alliance
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Prince William Conservation Alliance
Explore, Enjoy & Protect Local Natural Areas

Community Report
July 9, 2009
Newsletter Archive
Show me a healthy community with a healthy economy
and I will show you a community that has its green infrastructure in order and understands the relationship between the built
and the unbuilt environment. 
~Will Rogers, Trust for Public Land
In the News
New York Times; June 30 2009 
Baltimore Sun; July 9 2009  
Times Online; July 7 2009
U.S.-Mexico border fence may snag wildlife
Discovery Channel; July 8 2009 
Grist Magazine; July 1 2009
  Birding Tour at Merrimac Farm  
Prothonotary Warbler by Tony Coomer
When: Saturday, July 19, beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Where: Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area, 15020 Deepwood Lane, Nokesville
Tour Leader: Harry Glasgow
Birders will depart from the Stone House Nature Center and travel through a variety of habitats, including open fields, woodland edges and bottomland forest.
Everyone is welcome! This is a great opportunity for beginning birders to learn more.
Dress for the outdoors - long pants, long socks, sturdy shoes and a hat. Bring binoculars, cameras and water to drink. In case of rain (not a drizzle), the count will be rescheduled.
This program is open to the public and free of charge. For more information please email us at or call 703.499.4954.
  Silver Lake Update 
Taking a closer lookThe PWC Park Authority, which gained control of the 233-acre Silver Lake property on June 23, has committed to opening the park to the public by October 1 2009 for hiking, horseback riding, fishing and picnicking. Park officials have said they will use approximately $70,000 of their general operating funds to accomplish this goal.

Additional funding to develop Silver Lake Park is available from the Dominion Valley rezoning, which included $2,415,100 in cash proffers for use at Sudley Park, Long Park or Silver Lake. To date, the Park Authority has allocated $815,100 for Sudley Park, $515,000 for Long Park, and $350,000 for Silver Lake. The remaining balance - $1,250,000 - is available for planning and/or improvements at any of these three Gainesville parks. 
Long-term funding for Silver Lake Park is dependent on taxpayer funds, provided through the County's budget, and fees acquired from users at Silver Lake and other County parks.

According to the Park Authority, future user fees for Silver Lake Park and recreation uses will be determined through a Master Planning process. The Park Authority has initiated the Master Plan, but says it will not be completed before the park opens to the public. The process for conducting the Master Plan will involve community meetings, but it is not clear how these will be organized.

Currently the Park Authority has planned "stakeholders" meetings with the Nokesville Horse Society, Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition and the Prince William Conservation Alliance, as reported by the Gainesville Times on July 1.
However, the Prince William Conservation Alliance consistently advocates for transparency in government, so we declined to participate in  invitation-only planning sessions that limited access to three groups hand-selected by the Park Authority.

Instead, we recommended an inclusive session, such as an open house, that would allow the Park Authority to benefit from the expertise and input from the many Prince William County nonprofits, civic groups and nearby homeowner associations interested in recreation uses at Silver Lake. To the best of our knowledge, no information on the Master Planning process for Silver Lake is currently available.

We remain very interested in the development at Silver Lake and will continue to share our perspective.  Supervisors verbally prioritized passive recreation and horseback riding for Silver Lake but transferred the land to the Park Authority with no restrictions to make sure this happens.
Because passive recreation generates few funds for the Park Authority, which must raise at least 50% of its budget from user fees, many are concerned the County will be unable to support passive uses over time, opening the door to intensive recreation uses that can generate funding.

Although no schedule has been set for public participation has been set, citizens are invited to provide input on the development of Silver Lake Park. Click here to email the Park Authority Board or here for full contact information.
  New Highways for Virginia... or Not?  
Route 234 CorridorIt's time to comment on the VTRANS35 plan being developed by VDOT. There's a chance that as we change governors, VDOT will provide a comprehensive long-term strategy for transportation that is far more sustainable than the 1986 "raise taxes - build more roads everywhere" solution. 

The #1 issue for the 2010 General Assembly (and perhaps the governor's race this Fall) will be funding for transportation. VDOT's long-term approach could acknowledge the benefits of planning for land use, so new transportation demand (and costs) can be reduced by steering new development to already-developed areas.  

The traditional public response to VDOT requests for input is "Build everything.  My pet project is..."  However, there's a real disconnect between "build an interchange here, widen the road there, add more VRE trains..." and "don't raise my fees/taxes."  
Now is the time to provide input in the VTRANS35 plan to steer VDOT towards smarter growth, rather than more-growth-everywhere. 

If VDOT hears only that the transportation problem is inadequate road/rail capacity, then the only solution will be "build more lanemiles/expand transit deeper into the suburbs." That approach guarantees a need for massive tax increases every 20 years or so. 
The other solution is "build more housing in the already-developed areas, such as the Route 1 corridor as proposed by the Potomac Communities plan in Prince William. 
Don't scatter 'centers' for future growth all over the county; focus growth where increased transportation capacity will be cost-effective."
Click here to read more and share your views on our blog.
   New Stormwater Rules Update
Stream monitors
Last Tuesday the Virginia Dept. of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) held an information session and public hearing in Manassas for their proposed stormwater regulations, an effort to strengthen governments ability to prevent flooding, protect streams and green infrastructure.

The continued degradation of the Chesapeake Bay, the growing numbers of impaired streams and significant increases in flooding problems clearly point to deficits in current stormwater practices.
During the presentation, DCR staff noted that, as progress is made to address pollution problems from agricultural lands and point sources, Virginia continues to fall behind on goals associated with developed land.

The changes include reductions to the amount of pollutants discharged and raise the standard to address everyday rainstorms, a major factor in stream degradation.
The regulations include changes to address downstream flooding problems in developed areas and emphasize the use of low impact development techniques, including rain gardens and the conservation of natural features.

The majority of speakers strongly supported DCRs proposed regulations, citing examples of significant stream degradation and flooding problems throughout Northern Virginia. Generally, speakers felt the new rules would take a step forward while striking a reasonable balance.

Most but not all developers opposed the proposed regulations. One developer working primarily on infill development said that effectively managing stormwater is difficult and expensive. It takes thought and effort but it's doable, and we need to address the current problems.

Others expressed concerns that the current regulations were poorly enforced, saying government should follow through on better implementation before concluding that the current rules are inadequate.
Developers objected to the emphasis on low impact development because it takes up too much land and said that homeowners do not want rain gardens on their property.

Developers also said the proposed regulations would be impossible to implement on high-density development projects and requested a sliding scale for pollution caps. Some claimed this would result in more sprawl and expressed concern that the added costs would create an unreasonable hardship for government construction projects, such as schools and other public facilities.

DCR said they would be amending the proposed regulations in response to public comments, which must be submitted by August 21.
More information on the proposed regulations is available online here. You can submit comments electronically here or mailed to The Regulatory Coordinator, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 203 Governor Street, Suite 302, Richmond, Virginia 23219