Banshee Reeks and the Woods Road Realignment
Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, 695 acres south of Leesburg, is the wildlife gem of our County. It has amazing wildlife habitats that range from towering forests that warblers flock to in spring, to quiet meadows where multitudes of butterflies nectar, to running streams that beavers try to dam. It is home to an incredible diversity of plants and animals, and it is our greatest preserve in Loudoun where we can take our children to explore the natural world.
On March 18, 2008 our Board of Supervisors considered a plan from VDOT to realign and pave the Woods Road which currently borders Banshee. The reason for considering this realignment is to enable the landfill to expand. It appears that our own County staff is trying to ram-rod this decision through the Board of Supervisors. They are not meeting with or getting input from relevant Loudoun County Boards, committees, and other key stakeholders and they are not considering any alternatives that would still allow the landfill to expand as planned but not harm the nature preserve.
The proposed realignment will drive the road through the northern tier of Banshee Reeks and this will not only destroy a rare natural habitat in Virginia, but will also seriously impair the integrity of the entire nature preserve.
We must show that we place a premium on our last great places like Banshee. Please Speak Out. We believe a consensus needs to be reached among all the interested parties on any realignment of The Woods Road so that Banshee can be preserved.
We spoke at the Public input Session on March 17 as did a number of our members. Many citizens also sent emails in to their Supervisors further bolstering the LWC position.
In addition, we attended the April 17 stakeholder meeting. Details can be found below under current status.
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Position
We are opposed to the realignment of the Woods Road. If The Woods Road is realigned to run through the Preserve it will:
- Destroy a Mountain/Piedmont Basic Seepage Swamp, a rare natural habitat of which there are only 12 examples known in Virginia.
- Seriously impair the integrity of the entire nature preserve which is a mix of various different kinds of habitats including a large, relatively intact upland forest, wetlands, meadows, succession forest, and extensive forested riparian buffers along the Goose Creek.
- Destroy a road that has existed for almost two hundred years that linked the Carolina Road with Oatlands Plantation as well as other archaeological treasures.
- Violate an existing Virginia Outdoor Foundation conservation easement, which sets the precedent for other such violations.
- Undermine our County’s Revised General Plan which states that the “County will require the applicant to conduct a species assessment and develop a plan for impact avoidance in cases where the presence of the species is identified.”
- Take money from other more pressing transportation priorities.
We ask that the Board of Supervisors take the following steps:
- Defer The Woods Road project until the issues can be resolved.
- Create a task force to fully discuss the different issues and options and arrive at a consensus regarding existing conflicts.
- Resolve that Loudoun road projects not involve the destruction of rare natural habitats.
- Resolve to avoid or minimize to the greatest extent possible any incursions across existing Virginia Outdoor Foundation conservation easements, recognizing that Virginia’s Open Space Land Act requires that any incursion must be “replaced with land having greater conservation value than the land lost for the realignment.”
- Follow the guidance set forth in the County’s Revised General Plan.
- Current Status– On March 18, six of the nine Board of Supervisors approved including The Woods Road on VDOT’s 6-Year Secondary Road Plan. Both Supervisors Buckley and Miller voted against doing so stating that they thought it needed more study and citizen participation first. While the vote of the majority was disappointing, most of them did emphasize their commitment to an open and transparent public process that will give all concerned citizens a voice at the table.
– A stakeholder meeting was held on April 17, 2008. A summary of the meeting can be read here.