Action Alert: Great Blue Heron Rookery in Ashburn – Send Email by March 25th
Currently being fast tracked through the County planning process is a rezoning application to allow a stadium at One Loudoun in Ashburn.
While we are not opposed to baseball stadiums in general, the location of this proposed stadium is in a highly sensitive environmental area. The Great Blue Heron Rookery located on Loudoun County Parkway, just 4,600 feet from the proposed stadium, is the largest known nesting site for Great Blue Herons in Loudoun, supporting approximately 60 nests.
The developer currently plans to set off fireworks in April and May — this is prime nesting period for the Great Blue Heron. Fireworks being set off there during the nesting season can cause adult birds to abandon nest sites and young birds to spook, fall from nests and die.
We believe baseball fans will still attend the baseball games even if fireworks are not set off during the Great Blue Heron nesting period. [Let Bob Farron (email@example.com), President/CEO of the Loudoun Hounds, know that you want the stadium to be a good neighbor to the Great Blue Herons and that you can still have a great time without fireworks during the period we’re requesting]
Your voice is needed to convince the Board of Supervisors and the developer to ensure protection of the Rookery. Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors asking that they deny this rezoning application unless the developer agrees not to use fireworks or similar loud noises during the Great Blue Heron nesting period (at minimum March 1 through June 30).
Great Blue Heron Rookery in Ashburn Recognized as a “Critical Wildlife Resource”
This rookery, located in Ashburn off Loudoun County Parkway, is recognized by the State of Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) as a “Critical Wildlife Resource.”
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has monitored this site for the past seven years and has documented the fact that the number of nests not only persists but is thriving as the number of nests increase each year.
VDGIF recommends limiting disturbance of the rookery from March 1 through July 30 [ref: Zadnik, February 2007]. Our recommendation to not use fireworks or other loud noises from March 1 through June 30 is already a compromise.
Birds are Highly Sensitive to Fireworks
Wildlife (and domestic animals and pets) are highly sensitive to fireworks especially because of their likeness to gun shots. There are many documented instances of fireworks causing mass confusion in birds, collisions and bird death.
Fireworks cause adult birds to leave the nest, leaving eggs or young birds exposed to the cold, or to abandon nests altogether. They also cause fledgling birds, not yet ready to fly, to spook and fall from the nest where they die.
We have provided the Board of Supervisors with a sampling of reports documenting this issue.
Since 2007 when the issue of protecting the Great Blue Heron Rookery was first raised, developers in the area agreed to institute protections. The goodwill of these businesses and their stakeholders should not be undermined by the developer of One Loudoun.
1) Kincora recognized this sensitivity and agreed not to set off fireworks from March 1 through June 30. They also agreed to proffers in the amount of $1.89M to implement environmental improvements to protect the Rookery.
2) Loudoun County Wetlands Bank Phase 3 was established to provide additional natural habitat in the area. Estimated value: $1.2M.
3) Potomac Radio Towers agreed to replant 3.38 acres of forest, 1.08 acres of shrubs and 2.71 acres of meadow. They further agreed not to perform any land disturbance activities from February 15 through July 31 and to use the auxiliary generator during the nesting season only in emergency situations when electrical power has been interrupted.
What We are Asking for Is Minimal: As stated previously, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is not opposed to baseball stadiums. It is the desire of this developer to set off fireworks during the Great Blue Heron nesting season that is the issue. We are asking the Board of Supervisors to deny this rezoning until the developer agrees not to set off fireworks or similar loud noises between at least March 1 and June 30.
This rookery is an iconic symbol for Loudoun, a “Critical Wildlife Resource”, and it cannot be replaced once abandoned.
Scott K. York (Chairman At-Large): Scott.York@loudoun.gov
Shawn M. Williams, Vice Chairman, (Broad Run): Shawn.Williams@loudoun.gov
Suzanne M. Volpe (Algonkian): Suzanne.Volpe@loudoun.gov
Ralph M. Buona (Ashburn): Ralph.Buona@loudoun.gov
Janet S. Clarke (Blue Ridge): Janet.Clarke@loudoun.gov
Geary M. Higgins Office (Catoctin): Geary.Higgins@loudoun.gov
Matthew F. Letourneau (Dulles): Matt.Letourneau@loudoun.gov
Kenneth D. Reid (Leesburg): Ken.Reid@loudoun.gov
Eugene A. Delgaudio (Sterling): Eugene.Delgaudio@loudoun.gov
Full Board: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would also like to speak on this issue, the Public Hearing on this rezoning application is scheduled for March 25, 6:00 PM @ Farmwell Station Middle School