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

Community Report
July 23, 2009
Newsletter Archive

Monarch on Milkweed
Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life.  And everyone deserves a little sunshine. 
~Jeffrey Glassberg
Potomac News; June 28 2009
A county road project within the town of Dumfries to address one safety concern — flooding — may have inadvertently created another one: a bridge-like structure without guardrails.
The Sun News; July 21 2009
With a price tag of about $118 million, the Corps of Engineers project managers said the benefit to alleviating the flood concerns for 15 houses along the portion of the Waccamaw River is not enough for the federal government to move forward with the canal.

The Annapolis Capital; July 18 2009
Waterfront property owners stand the best chance of keeping their view and use of a healthy river by finding new ways of sharing it with a larger public - on whom its salvation ultimately depends.

Baltimore Sun; July 23 2009

State officials agreed yesterday to pay more than $2.7 million to buy development rights on about 360 acres of farmland and forest in three stream watersheds in the Baltimore area.

New York Times; July 17 2009
Cities from Singapore to San Antonio have been resuscitating rivers and turning storm drains into streams.

ABC News; July 22 2009
Property acquisition has been a cornerstone of the city's flood control efforts for more than 30 years. "I think we're up to over 300 now," said the Austin City Administrator.
Journal Sentinel; July 15 2009
The nation's drinking water and sewage treatment systems are getting older and need massive investments to protect public health and the environment, a bipartisan group of congressmen said Wednesday in proposing a $10 billion-a-year federal clean water trust fund.

Grist; July 20 2009
Other sites in the South that EPA identified as having suffered proven damages from coal ash contamination include the Dominion Resources plant in Possum Point, VA...

3-year countdown begins for Atlanta's water future
Associated Press; July 22 2009
Georgia faces the dire prospect of losing metropolitan Atlanta's main water source if political leaders can't broker a solution with Alabama and Florida over rights to a major reservoir within three years.

A shadow of a drought
Mother Nature News; July 14 2009
Long-running water shortages have plagued the U.S. from California to Carolina in recent years, raising the question -- are droughts getting worse?
   Butterfly Survey at Merrimac Farm
Red-spotted Purple
When: Thursday, August 6 beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Where: Meet at the Stone House Visitor Center, 15020 Deepwood Land, Nokesville
RSVP Appreciated: or 703-499-4954
PWCA and the Audubon Society of NoVA are coordinating a butterfly survey at Merrimac Farm. We hope you can help!
Merrimac Farm's diverse habitats provide ample territory for a variety of butterflies. There's 100 acres of contiguous nontidal forested wetlands along Cedar Run. Cedar and hardwood forests, interspersed with fields and open corridors cover another 200 acres. Click here to view an aerial image of Merrimac Farm.
Recent sightings include the American Snout and Carolina Satyrs. Frequently seen butterflies include the Hackberry Emperor, Comma, Red-spotted Purple and Zebra Swallowtail. Last weekend, Least Skippers were everywhere you looked.
Up to now, there have been no comprehensive surveys for butterflies at Merrimac Farm. We have been recording butterflies sighted on other programs or just walking around, and the list is up to 47 species, online here.
  Dove's Landing Tour
When: Saturday, August 1 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Where: Directions provided when you register, or 703.499.4954
Join Prince William Conservation Alliance naturalists for a tour of this 235-acre undeveloped property with one mile of frontage along the Occoquan River. Prince William County acquired this property in March 2006 but has not yet opened the site to the public for passive recreation uses.

The gently sloping landscape, open forest and scenic appearance create inviting and accessible conditions for residents of all ages. This site includes both wetland and upland habitats, and we've found a variety of interesting plants which help make this a great spot to watch butterflies and other wildlife.

Group size is capped at 25 participants, so register early! Preferred attire includes sturdy hiking shoes, long socks, long pants, and a hat. Bring water to drink, bug spray, binoculars and cameras.

This program is open to the public and free of charge. For more information and to register, email us at or call 703.499.4954.
   New website locates Bald Eagles in Virginia
Bald Eagle by Julia FlanaganThe Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University has developed a VA Eagles website that hosts a Google Maps application allowing users to locate documented eagle nests and to view their mapped locations on a county by county basis.
For the first time in the 54-year history of the annual Bald Eagle survey, the location of known nests are being made available online to the public in the hope that the public will become more actively involved in the conservation of this species throughout Virginia.
This project is based on the premise that Bald Eagle breeding sites may be better protected in the long term if they are known to the public.
According to the Center, the number of known breeding pairs in 2009 increased nearly 5% from 584 pairs in 2008, to 612 pairs in 2009.  This is the highest number of breeding pairs ever recorded in the state. 
Since 2000, 6240 Bald Eagle chicks have been documented in Virginia. The tidal fresh reach of the James and Rappahanock Rivers continue to provide the most significant breeding habitat for bald eagles in Virginia.

However, despite best efforts, an unknown number of eagle nests go unrecorded each year. The Center is requesting that the public view nests in their locality and report those that are not currently included in the annual survey.
For more information, check the Center's VA Eagles website here.
  News from the Bluebird Trails 
Volunteers on the TrailMerrimac Farm -The first nesting cycle in April/May resulted in 6 active nesting boxes and 18 young that fledged.
We removed and will relocate two boxes due to persistent problems with House Sparrows, which kill Bluebirds and their young to take over the nesting site.
We are now at the peak of the second nesting cycle with a total of 16 Bluebird eggs at Merrimac Farm.
Chinn Park -  During the first nesting cycle, 10 Bluebirds and 3 Chickadees fledged from four active nests. Currently, the second nesting has produced four active nests. Young Bluebirds are in three nesting boxes and 5 house wren eggs are in the fourth.
  Park Authority approves parkland purchases
Neighborhood parkland
The Park Authority has approximately $3 million for land acquisition, 90% secured through developer monetary proffers, and is interested in expanding the park system. 
Staff has developed a short list of potential properties and completed appraisals these. The Park Authority Board  reviewed the list and, at their July 22 meeting, authorized Executive Director Jay Ellington to move forward with the purchase(s).

Because negotiations when purchasing land can be sensitive, information on specific parcels is generally discussed in closed session meetings. According to discussion at the July 22 Park Authority Facilities Committee meeting, it's unclear if District Supervisors have approved the locations of the parcels short listed for purchase.
Although there's no direct opportunity for citizen input, recent surveys and public meetings show significant support for parkland close to home - places you can visit without getting in a car, where your kids can throw a frisbee and explore the great outdoors. Green spaces that provide respite from our hectic days and improve the appearance of communities.

According to the Park Authority Board's resolution, the acquisition of specific parcels cannot be completed unless the following conditions are met: 
  • Park Authority Board approval approval of the final purchase price,
  • BOCS approval of the parcel(s) as Public Land/Parks & Open Space,
  • Planning Commission approval of a public park site (Public Facilities Review).
Both the BOCS and Planning Commission processes require public notification and public hearings. It's been a long time since the Park Authority purchased land and many areas, notably east Prince William, are underserved by parks. New parkland would be a welcome addition to many communities. 
  Silver Lake Update 
1According to Executive Director Jay Ellington's report to the Park Authority Board at their July 22 meeting, staff is moving forward quickly to prepare the Park for an October 1 opening.
Activities slated for completion before that time include bush hogging and spraying the areas planned for picnicking, lake access, parking lots, trails and around the Rainbow Riding Club house.

Staff, with assistance from volunteers, will remove old fencing, construct a fence around the cemetery, remove debris throughout the Park and build fire pits. In addition, the Park Authority plans to demolish two existing houses on the property and repair the camp building on the north side of Silver Lake.

The Park Authority has purchased 75-100 picnic tables for use at Silver Lake, which they plan to install before opening day.

A wetlands delineation as well as testing the lake for fish stock are are also slated for completion before opening day.

According to Mr. Ellington's report, no schedule for public input into the Master Planning process for Silver Lake has been established. Staff is working to develop a schedule, which they plan to publish sometime in the future.