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

Community Report
September 1, 2010
Newsletter archive


Twilight River Cruises

The American Chestnut Story - 1st Thursday Speakers with the American Chestnut Foundation

Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge Tour  

Paving over a forest at Hellwig Park to subsidize development - How rich is the Park Authority?

Monarch caterpillars  

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous and leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
~Edward Abbey

  Act Locally  

In the News

How I (almost) saved the Earth
Wall Street Journal; August 21 2010
No one said it would be easy to build the greenest house on the block. Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert comic strip, on perplexing energy bills, ugly lawns and the true meaning of 'green'

Urban planning mistakes have hidden the James River from view
Richmond Times-Dispatch; August 17 2010
The James River runs right through Richmond, so why are local leaders so blind to the possibilities it offers for recreation, development and tourism?

New York Times; August 28 2010
Our dams, railways, levees and watersystems may look impressive. As long as you don't look too closely.

Baltimore Sun; August 20 2010
Farming technique tried in city schoolyard to control polluted runoff. De-paving and improving urban permeability...

Washington Post; August 31 2010
For visitors, these new downtown parks offer more than tantalizing glimmers of hope and welcome rays of sunshine. 

Richmond Times Dispatch; August 22 2010
Richmond is poised to take a much bigger step that promises to tranform the neighborhoods around the convention center.
Twilight River Cruises
Confluence of the Occoquan River and Bull Run

Please join us for a tour of the scenic Occoquan River, light dinner fare and good conservation with fellow nature lovers.

All proceeds benefit habitat enhancement at the Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area Stone House Visitor Center!

Suggested contribution - $100 (only 8 people/tour). Four dates are available - Sunday evenings on Sept. 12, 19 and 26 as well as Saturday morning on Oct. 2.

Click here to read more and register for this fun event... and help improve local wildlife habitats.

The American Chestnut Story
PWCA 1st Thursday Speaker Series
Big trees are hard to findWhen: Thursday, Sept. 2 from 7:30 to 9:00 pm
Where: Bull Run Unitarian Universalist Church, 9350 Main Street, Manassas, directions
Speaker: Cathy Mayes, American Chestnut Foundation

American chestnut was once the dominant tree of the Virginia forest. A quarter of the hardwoods were chestnut. Chestnut was valuable as a source of timber, producing millions of board feet of lumber per year.

And it was valuable source of food, producing edible, nutritious nuts for wildlife and livestock. Roasted chestnuts were a familiar staple of the American diet.

Then came the chestnut blight. The result was an environmental disaster, thought by many to be still the worst ever. 
Today scientists and volunteers continue to work day in and day out to restore the tree to its former glory, work that will continue past their own lifetimes, a testament to their dedication to correcting the accident of their ancestors.

Join us to hear about the impact of the chestnut blight on the ecology and economy of Virginia and status of efforts to restore the tree to our forest. 

Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge Tour
Cardinal Flower
When: Saturday, September 18 from 8:00 to 10:30 a.m

Where: Meet at the Rippon VRE main parking lot, end Farm Creek Drive ust past the intersection at Rippon Blvd. in Woodbridge.
The Featherstone Refuge is generally closed to public uses and many people do not even know it exists. With more than 300 acres of bottomland forests and freshwater tidal marshes, the Refuge protects wildlife habitats and could provide a unique area for NoVA wildlife enthusiasts. 
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service plans to publish their draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Featherstone Refuge in September 2010. This is the first step to opening the site for wildlife-dependent activities, such as birding.
The Featherstone Refuge is a great spot to watch wildlife in NoVA. Now is you chance to visit this fabulous natural area along Prince William's Potomac River shoreline. Read more...
Paving Over a Forest at Hellwig Park to Subsidize Development - How Rich is the Park Authority?
The county Park Authority must have discovered a sofa in the office that was filled with change behind the cushions. They want to spend money on an unplanned road, one that is not needed. There’s a rumor running rampant that some people are experiencing a recession and some government agencies are struggling for money… but the Park Authority thinks it is rich.

For over four years, the Park Authority has been planning new ballfields at Hellwig Park. Prince William adopted an ambitious  20-year Transportation Plan six months ago that will require $3-$4 billion in new funding to build 700 more miles of road over the next 20 years. Until very recently, the Park Authority was clear on what it needed – and no plans included bisecting the park with a new Hellwig Highway to Aden Road.

Now, the Park Authority has discovered they just gotta build a new road.  On June 2, the Planning Commission approved the long-planned new entrance for the park on Bristow Road, but rejected the unplanned connection to Aden Road.  On September 14 the Board of Supervisors will consider the Park Authority’s appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision.

Why would the Park Authority be so anxious to add a new project to an already underfunded list of new roads, and redirect scarce park bond money to a road project?  Hint:  This new road would provide access to unbuilt lots in the Liberty Oaks subdivision, saving the developer the cost of building their own road.   Bonds sold to develop public parks will instead be used to subsidize a private developer.

Even more interesting, the Park Authority has committed to pay the developer who needs access to the unbuilt residential lots $315,000 for the land where the road will be built.  That is significantly more than the asking price for other lots in that development. Whoever sat in that Park Authority sofa, spilling change out of their pocket, must have been loaded. Read more...