We arrived at 9:30 and about 45 minutes later the first set of fireworks were set off. We watched the herons through binoculars and spotting scopes and did not see any signs of disturbance. This test was followed by two other tests – all conducted at the stadium.
For the final test, noise monitors were set up at the rookery to measure sound levels and the Supervisors and developer were present. Again we watched the herons for their reaction and the herons did not react.
We were happy with these results but did ask both the developer and the Supervisors if there was any chance that the fireworks would be set off any closer to where they were done today. They all said no.
We were especially eager to hear this response because the One Loudoun Property does stretch to an area across the street from the rookery and any locations closer than what we experienced today may not be acceptable.
So, in summary, we were satisfied with the test results as they were performed today at the stadium with the shell sizes used, but still want to see that specific geographic location with the distance to the rookery used in the today’s test specified in the proffers. Currently the proffers simply state that fireworks can be set off anywhere on the property and this leaves too much opportunity for them to be set off close to the rookery in the future.
If the developer and Supervisors are so sure that the fireworks will always be set off from the location used today, then they should not have a problem with making sure that is specified in the proffers.
We think this is critical because in 10 or 20 years from now, Supervisors and even owners of this development may move on and verbal agreements will be forgotten. The proffers, however, are binding documents and we believe having this specified in writing would assure the protection of the herons.
This rookery is a treasure of the County and it will continue to be a key stop on our late winter and spring bird walks as we watch the goings on at nests through our spotting scopes and continue to teach increasingly more people about this wonderful colony.
As the stadium opens next year, we will continue to monitor this site, gather data and make sure that there are indeed no adverse affects; and of course, we will continue to share our photos, videos and stories from the field so that you can stay engaged.