Loudoun Wildlife Supports Emerald Ribbons but Asks for Stronger Protections
While Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC) supports the concept of Emerald Ribbons, a proposed countywide interconnected system of linear parks and trails, the organization feels stronger language is needed to protect the natural resources that give the concept so much of its value.
Emerald Ribbons is a proposal from a committee of the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition (LCPCC) members. The concept is in the draft Comprehensive Plan and the Board of Supervisors will soon discuss a proposal to develop a detailed Emerald Ribbons plan.
Loudoun Wildlife feels that creating a set of linear parklands while protecting natural resources encourages people to live in harmony with nature. This concept has many beneficial impacts to the community, including increasing economic growth, property values, safety on corridors, and health and wellness while also protecting natural assets. The project would add significantly to Loudoun County’s severely deficient parkland acreage.
While Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy supports the concept of Emerald Ribbons, we recommend stronger language to protect the natural resources that give this concept so much of its value. We understand the importance of incorporating green infrastructure language into the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. However, the language in the Emerald Ribbons project is vague and leaves a lot of flexibility in how such a concept would be implemented.
- Specific language to adequately protect wildlife habitat along the proposed riparian corridors, including seasonal closures to protect sensitive habitat areas and nesting bird populations, or route alternatives to avoid those areas.
- Stipulations to use appropriate surfaces, including only natural surfaces in flood plain areas, to reduce erosion and protect water quality.
- Using only native plants along the trails, and that invasive plant removal should be a component of Emerald Ribbons.
One of the key elements of this project is to protect the natural resources and assets that make Loudoun County a great, and appealing, place to live. While one of the purposes of this project is to create interconnectivity between areas, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy does not want to sacrifice, or put at risk, important wildlife habitat to achieve those goals. These recommendations are focused on ensuring wildlife habitat will be adequately protected during the implementation of this project.
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is committed to working with the Emerald Ribbons working group to create a coalition of public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders to ensure this concept will protect the natural assets of Loudoun County while providing tremendous public benefit to the citizens of Loudoun County. Emerald Ribbons is a complex project that will take many years to complete, and we look forward to working with stakeholders and partners to enhance the quality of life of Loudoun County residents by protecting the natural resources and riparian corridors described in this plan.
The Emerald Ribbons proposal will be discussed at the next Board of Supervisors business meeting on Thursday, January 17th at 5 p.m. at the Loudoun County Government Center in Leesburg. To make your views heard, contact the Board of Supervisors here.