The Army Corps of Engineers has refused to issue a permit for one of the segments of the Meadowcreek Parkway, NBC-29 reports, saying that they’re not about to allow the construction of a road to nowhere. Officially, the Meadowcreek Parkway is three projects—a road in Albemarle, a road in Charlottesville, and an interchange at 250. Critics charge that local officials are only taking that approach to skirt state and federal rules, and there is good reason to think that the road would be infeasible to construct if treated as a single entity. The Army Corps of Engineers is looking at the proposal for the Charlottesville portion of the road and balking at a road that simply stops in the middle of a park. This leaves the city and the county between a rock and hard place—they can’t build it as one road, and they also can’t build it in segments. Albemarle County is probably feeling pretty dumb right now—they’re 12% finished with building their segment, having deliberately jumped the gun in anticipating that no obstacles would arise. If this latest obstacle proves insurmountable, the county will prove to have wasted an enormous sum of money.
Where things go from here is anybody’s guess.
73 thoughts on “Army Corps of Engineers Brings Meadowcreek Parkway to a Halt”
All I can say is wow….someone took one helluva gamble at the county starting without all necessary approvals. That seems like a colossal f-up. Did anyone predict a scenario such as this?
Peter Kleeman has been telling this to the MPO and everyone else for years.
someone has f—ed up real good this time. there will be blood on somebody’s hands
Did anyone else immediately think of the Landmark Hotel upon seeing this story?
I understood Peter Kleeman to say on The Schilling Show today that the issue is that the ACoE has not been asked for permission to build close to a waterway. It is thought that it may take up to two months to get the permission before they can continue the project, which will not allow for the road to be opened in its entirety at the same time.
This is just my interpretation of what he said and I have read the ACoE document.
The letter doesn’t appear to deny the permit it just seeks more information from VDOT so not sure that is correct. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the legitimate request.
This story has changed on NBC-29’s website since I wrote this—there’s more detail, and I feel certain that it’s been softened. (Oh, hey, it says at the top “Updated: Jul 17, 2009 6:24 PM.” That explains that.) The prior iteration presented no apparent path forward. I’ll wait for a more detailed story (in the Progress tomorrow, I assume) before updating this, but it now looks like combining the plan with the interchange will be sufficient. That said, I think that the same problem still applies—if memory serves, C’ville/VDOT deliberately broke up the interchange and the C’ville segment in order to circumvent some sort of regulations.
See the pattern yet. County builds road to benefit county growth thru city park, county tries to build dam on city land and destroy city park to benefit county growth. When will city people wake up and elect people who are looking out for the city and not trying to enable the county. Let them build roads in the county and let them build dams in the county and pay for it.
Do we live in the Balkans?
@FedUp, soon it won’t matter if we do elect people who are looking out for city interests in road and dam building. Why? Our elected officials have no control over the Rivanna Water and Sewer AUTHORITY and it won’t have control eventually over the regional transit authority whose proposal is to raise $M locally to hand over to that AUTHORITY. The more authorities, the less democractic decisions over some of the most important resources in our region. Thank goodness will now have an elected school board.
Even if all of the city’s representatives did vote for the interests of the city residents they can be outvoted by the others on the board.
I think it’s time to do with the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority what we did with the appointed school board–change over to an elected board. Cville Eye, do you know if it is possible to do that? I was impressed that the Fluvanna residents collected 2,000 signatures in one weekend to try and stop the formation of a water authority. If all we need is signatures I’ll bet that wouldn’t be a problem . You are absolutely right we must not have any more appointed authorities with unlimited power to tax the citizens.
I concur Cville Eye. But Fed Up, isn’t the board of the RWSA composed of designates from the City and Country and I think in some cases BOS and Council members themselves? Or at least Planning Commissioners.
Oh and perhaps the County should have a say in what goes on in the City. Doesn’t the County still make it’s yearly tribute to the City? What else do my Albemarle taxes diverted to the City do but buy that influence?
For what it is worth, please note that I am not a fan of the MCP especially as it is planned now.
In addition to the RWSA wacko entity we have a case of the re-ording of transportation responsibilities shifting them from state to localities. Like it or not localities will have to fund more and more of their transportation priorities. That will not be changing for a very long time I think. So there will be less and less money available all building projects; roads, dams, rails, all of it.
@FedUp, the question as to how to dissolve the authorities has come up before, but I haven’t seen an answer yet. However, I did read a report of the transportation consultants given to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission on what it would take to tailor a regional transit authority to our locality, the consultants felt that since th enabling legislation for the other authorities it looked did not have a dissolving clause explaining how the authorities could be eliminated, that it would new legislation to dissolve them. So, I suspect the same would apply to our new rta if it is not included in the enabling legislation.
@Patient Observer, the RWSA is composed of the City Manager, the Director of Pulic Works of the city, the Executive Director of the Albemarle County Service Authority, the County Manager and an appointed representative agreed upon by both City Council and the BoS. None of these people are directly accountable to the local stakeholders. The appointed member is answerable to the local governing bodies only if and when he seeks reappointment. There is no recall for appointees. I guess the BoS could fire the County Manager and the City could fire the City Manager, but that’s only two votes out of five. Now, a City Councilor and a Bos have been added. They may or may not vote against the position of the fired employees, so we really have a chaotic situation when it comes to accountability. If the other four seats are spelled out in the enabling legislation (haven’t looked it up), then they are there ex-officio and there’s nothing we can do about them without legislation. If not, then I guess CC and the BoS may be able to remove them and specify another model for composition. I know I have not answered your question but it’s time for the public to start asking.
The time ask about the rta is BEFORE we vote to raise taxes to fund it, not after we are confronted with unanticipated issues down the road. It has been proposed by the rta study team that the initial composition of the rta will be chosen from the comtemporary members of the BoS and CC INITIALLY, but who on those bodies have the time? They will be actually running a business in addition to running a county and a city. That’s why they really haven’t been paying much attention to our local authorities in decades.
“What else do my Albemarle taxes diverted to the City do but buy that influence?” We help keep up your property values up by keeping the majority of the people in the city the buyers don’t want in their neighborhoods in the county. We have the area’s only public housing, the most subsidized housing units, and the only homeless shelters. Over 50% of our student body is free or reduced lunch. And we allocate a considerable amount to the Comprehensive Services Act’s mandates. We house four large Region Ten facilities, and we are about to build at least 40 units to provide permanent housing for the homeless. Of course we have the costly Community Attention Home and the Mohr House. Of course the total may not add up to next year’s $19M, but that’s the price you pay to have neighborhoods without gun shots, pleasant shopping areas, and UVA’s ever growing expansion into your tax-producing base because we are not able to replace our lost property with yours. Having said all of that, I wouldn’t oppose the city’s dissolving our that old agreement made before the state passed a moritorium on annexation.
Don’t forget about the park and recreational facilities used by the county folks for a minimal fee,and I agree Cville Eye the city provides for the vast majority of people needing services in the entire region.
I hope we can get an answer how to dissolve or create a different structure for the RWSA, the two elected officials are just window dressing and the bureaucrats are running the dam show and throwing our money away with no one willing to stop them. The city made a big mistake re-appointing Gaffney when they could have appointed any number of people who supported dredging as an alternative.
Cville Eye, thank you for your insightful comments. I do disagree on one point. You said “soon it won’t matter if we do elect people who are looking out for city interests in road and dam building. Why? Our elected officials have no control over the Rivanna Water and Sewer AUTHORITY”
I do feel it matters who our elected officials are in deciding these important issues. We wouldn’t have a Meadowcreek Parkway at all if we had elected one more city councilor opposed to it, and the dam can’t be built on city land ( at Ragged Mt) without the vote of at least 3 city councilors. So the next election in the City will determine if the dam plan moves forward as proposed by the RWSA and the county or not. The City Council has the power to stop the dam plan right now if they chose to. The reservoirs are all owned by the City and leased to Rivanna and that lease comes due very soon. City Council has the power at that point to disband the RWSA and take back the reservoirs. So I do feel it matters who we elect.
As usual, point well taken Betty Mooney.
” We wouldn’t have a Meadowcreek Parkway at all if we had elected one more city councilor opposed to it,…” true, BUT when we institute a regional road-building transit (transportation) authority capable of issuing its own bonds, what could council do to stop it. Remember, the state, too, has the power of eminent domain. That’s why I qualified my statement with “soon”. Yes, there may be a fight but in the end the Authority will have the AUTHORITY.
“…and the dam can’t be built on city land ( at Ragged Mt) without the vote of at least 3 city councilors.” As your organization has so correctly pointed out on the issue of dredging, RWSA, not the City, has the obligation to maintain the SF Rivanna Reservoir, although they are leasees (for $1 county residents). We’ll have to have some interested Councilors to be able to tell if the proposed Ragged Mountain dam is or is not a “maintenance” project. So far, as with the MCP project, I haven’t seen where Council has been really up on definitions and I’m not convinced that this current crop is either. Thank goodness the public has your organization, but it can’t count on that forever, either. That’s why you and I agree we’ve got to re-evaluate the structure and powers of RWSA and I cam doing my best to get the public to question if we really nead an rta and if so how will it be comprised and with what powers.
The inability of our governing officials to get the proper permits first before embarking on this project has unfortunate similarities to the determination of certain local politicians to keep pushing the dam plan forward no matter how faulty the data and to attempt to mislead the public to do so.
As Mr. Crutchfield pointed out in his letter to the Hook, such tactics have serious implications for the ability of our Council and BOS to gain the public trust on other important issues, such as a Transportation Authority, Given their current lack of oversight of the Water Authority I would vigorously oppose any other authority at this time.
the County will build and open this road no matter what happens with the other segments. Then the Grove Rd folks will see how effective their road calming efforts will be. This isn’t a no, it’s a small bump in the road. The city just needs to approve the interchange and presto it’s on- are is that a hopeful reading of the rules?
I’m guessing the county hopes they will be able to do what people who start a building project without a permit often do, get one after the fact, with nothing more than a little slap on the wrist if that. I’ve heard of many cases where a remodel was done before being reported with no real consequences in the end. It’s no different than driving with an expired registration. Get one before you go to court and the case is dropped, assuming you didn’t act like a total d**k to the ticketing officer or the judge.
Seeing as how there are people being total d**ks both in the county and the city who are trying to force this ridiculous project forward, it would be great if this meant another opportunity for the public to comment to someone with the authority to stop the project. Does anyone know if the Corps of Engineers takes public input on matters like this?
The state just changed the law on the expired auto inspection stickers. Now you have to pay court costs even if the judge drops the fine.
Speaking of Mr. Crutchfield, did anybody ever produce a written document or facsimilie of an attributable document testifying to some kind of mussel existing in any of our streams, you know, with name, position, agency, location, quantity, date and other particulars? Until this documentation is produced, I don’t buy it and I doubt if the federsl government will either. We have had too much decision-by-rumor and I think members of the public are beginning to catch on ACSA, The Nature Conservancy and pEC.
The existence of the the James Spiney Mussel was documented during the 29 Bypass litigation. If you are so skeptical, you go track it down yourself.
You can’t track down what doesn’t exist. No record in Richmond nor Blacksburg. Oral reports do not serve as documentation anywhere.
@CityResident, come to think of it, what isn’t there a copy here at the RWSA? It seems to me, if someone has bought a bunch of property for an inteneded purpose, then he would want it in writing from an authority that he can not use the property for that intended purpose and exactly why. “I heard there was a certain condition” shouldn’t make it with the intelligent.
Yes, they exist, and there’s a good reason why species data is kept private. In the past there have been many attempts to kill endangered species to prevent any kind of restriction on use.
There is no grand TNC conspiracy. I’ve worked with TNC on projects before and their motives are quite simple (i.e. protecting “the last great places”) They’ve got faults to be sure, but they’ve got no motivation whatsoever to meddle in local matters on a water supply issue unless it somehow enabled them to preserve some kind of important habitat or something.
Occam’s Razor applies. Why is there a demand to expand Ragged Mountain? Development, and Development = Water Use. We know how many subdivisions are being planned, and if all the ones on the books are built then there will be big problems in terms of water supply. The problem here has always been that we tend address infrastructure separate from the subject of growth. It’s idiotic that the State basically forces us into that situation.
Good points Dirt….agree.
I know that the folks (staff/volunteers) at Streamwatch have experience with the James River spinymussel locally as well:
Praise the Lord for the Army Corps of Engineers! Northern VA proves the more roads you build the more sprawl you create. The nouveau riche white trash in Forest Lakes, Hollymeade, and the rest of Albemarle County will just have to suck it up, and move to the city and send their precious brats to school with our diverse city kids….or they can just keep sitting in traffic on their way to their meaningless job shopping “ebay” and “twittering” while getting a check from UVa.
A FEDERAL PERMIT IS REQUIRED TO HANDLE A JAMES SPINYMUSSEL TO OBTAIN A PERMIT A CERTIFICATION IS REQUIRED FROM AT LEAST ONE I THE PARTY. TO BE CERTIFIED YOU MUST HAVE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. ONLY A FEW (2 OR 3) IN THE STATE OF VIRGINIA HAVE PERMITS.
THIS IS WHAT WAS EXPLAINED TO ME IN A LENGTHY EMAIL FROM THE STATE’S MUSSEL EXPERT. MAYBE ONE OF THESE IS CURRENTLY WORKING IN STREAM WATCH, BUT I FIND IT UNLIKELY.
EVEN TO AN EXPERT, IDENTIFYING THE JAMES SPINYMUSSEL IS DIFFICULT. IT DIFFERS FROM OTHER COMMON MUSCELLS IN SUBTLE WAYS. IF “CITY RESIDENT” KNOWS A CERTIFIED EXPERT AT STREAMWATCH, THEN I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHO THAT PERSON IS.
THERE IS A VALID SIGHTING OF ONE MUSCELL IN THE PREVIOUS DECADE. IT WAS REPORTED IN THE AREA OF BUCK MOUNTAIN. I HAVE SEEN THIS REPORT AND ODDLY IT OMITS ANY INFORMATION ON THE COLONY SIZE OR HEALTH. IT IS JUST A REPORT ON A SINGULAR MUSCELL.
ADDITIONAL CURRENT INFORMATION REQUIRES ANOTHER SURVEY TO BE CONDUCTED ACCORDING TO THE STATE.
“Yes, they exist, and there’s a good reason why species data is kept private. In the past there have been many attempts to kill endangered species to prevent any kind of restriction on use.” it is extremely difficult to identify the James spiny mussell, usually it is done by DNA. I can not believe that somebody is going to search and search and search for one to kill. According to Streamwatch, they are extremely rare.
“THERE IS A VALID SIGHTING OF ONE MUSCELL IN THE PREVIOUS DECADE. IT WAS REPORTED IN THE AREA OF BUCK MOUNTAIN.” Was that the “report” made by John Martin when he said he was with some State employees in that area and they jumped out of a vehicle, went under a bridge and said, “There, there?”
“[The Nature Conservancy,] they’ve got no motivation whatsoever to meddle in local matters on a water supply issue unless it somehow enabled them to preserve some kind of important habitat or something.” And the Ragged Mountain Natural Area doesn’t fit that criteria?
“I know that the folks (staff/volunteers) at Streamwatch have experience with the James River spinymussel locally as well:…” I went to the website and there was no indication that any of them has even seen one. They are advertising a workshop.
@RICHARD LLOYD thanks for your comments.
http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:7ltePSMeO5IJ:www.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/article/critics_county_aims_to_block_water_options/32222/ Mes spinymussel Virginia Tech&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
Has anybody noticed that the names of those with expertise in idenifying this animals are mysteriously missing? If Watson can see the copy, why can’t RWSA have a copy? After all, they’re all friends aren’t they, being g-men? Last Friday’s fish was apparently left out on the counter.
After using my new tin foil hat, I realize that you’re completely right. The Illuminati are faking data about mussels to protect the location of a secret alien colony.
Virginia Tech’s mussel center has physical documentation of the James spinymussel being found in several habitats. If it has been documented here in Albemarle County, where is the documentation? Any intelligent person would question why there is no copy at the RWSA or ACSA or City Hall? If somebody gives you a copy, maybe you can stick that in your hat, along with the people you think that will go scouring Buck Mountain looking for the rare and endangered James spinymussel to kill.
From a report by Karen Firehock, PHD:
“…The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Recovery Plan for the mussel indicates that it is found within the Rivanna basin in the Mechums River, the Moormans Rivers and its tributary stream Rocky Run, in Albemarle County, and downstream on the Rivanna near Columbia, Palmyra and Crofton.
However, the spineymussels has disappeared from the
mainstem because of declines in water quality and is now found only in the North and South forks of the
Rivanna and their tributaries.”- James Spinymussel in the Rivanna River Drainage By Karen Firehock, March 30, 2005
Thanks, we’re getting closer.
Now we need to see the documentation (photos, location, counts, surveyors, identification methods, etc.) that was provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so that we can determine exactly what is the relationship with the proposed site for the reservoir at Buck Mountain.
According to the passage, has the mussel disappeared from the Moorman’s and Mechum’s and is only found in the North and South Forks of Rivanna? Has it completely disappeared since 1999 when one was found? Should VA Tech conduct another survey?
http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:ornEM1ciPUEJ:www.streamcritters.org/page8.html Brian Watson, of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us This guy, working with Brian Watson, seems to be able to find a quite a few of them in the Pedlar River.
The James Spinymuscell requires a very specific habitat to reproduce. The water temperature has to be just right. And the stream flow must me not too strong and not too slow. A sandy or pebbly bottom will hold the egs until they are fertilized. The they must fin a host fish such as a chub. The host fish will allow the fertilized eggs to attach to its gills until they grow large enough to fall to the bottom again. And again the temperature must be right along with the stream flow and bottom composition.
Interuptions to this cycle will decrease the viability of a colony. SO it the host fish is overfished the you break the cycle. Or starve the stream for sediment or let the temperature change or anything and the colony will just dye off.
There is a lot to protecting this endangered species. A trained expert would not likely find a singular speciment and not file a complete report.
Thanks for your explanation. Now I understand why they’re scarce. I can’t imagine their surviving the recent droughts in large numbers. It sounds like somebody ought to start looking into more stream-restoration projects (???).
Basically, that’s exactly what TNC is doing, and it ties completely into their support of the water supply plan. As I said, their agenda is really simple – protecting rare species and habitats. Ragged Mountain, although a nice place with lots of diversity, doesn’t have documented federally endangered species.
The Dirt Worshiper; WOW why not come forth and just use your real name.
TNC; well they do have a habit of cooking up reasons why they should be the protectors instead of “The People”. Personally I prefer a public entity to a private one. And mysterious people behind ficticious names are shady operators.
After observing TNC and their tactics here in Charlottesville, I am concerned about their motives.
Richard, do you really think that the goverment is in the best position to manage all the natural and environmental resources in the United States? They certainly don’t have a very good track record so far… From mountain top removal to plain mismanagement, they are more often the problem than the solution. While TNC is not perfect, their record is far better than any “public” entity.
Which do you have more control over?
Do you mean me personally? Neither.
As far as the larger public is concerned, privately funded environmental groups are often the only way that the public’s voice can be heard over special interest groups like miners, ranchers and loggers.
Sure we can vote for the next president, but we generally only get two choices, and local govenments have neither the staff nor the experience to address most environmental issues very well. Thus you must have private groups like Streamwatch and TNC involved along with local experts.
Besides, trusting the feds or the State to guard environmental assets is like appointing a fox to guard your hen house.
Bu isn’t this a public policy debate? If you think the government is hopeless, what is the point of arguing about what it should be doing?
You seem to be arguing for private interests and denying that we live in a democracy. The solution to its faults is more democracy, not less.
I don’t think the government is “hopeless”, and I am indeed a big believer in democracy. For example, I certainly don’t think we should dissolve the national forests and parks and return them to private ownership (as some people do). I’m also strongly against the privatization of the management of the parks, and downsizing things like park rangers.
That said, the vast amount of land with endangered species is under private ownership. So, we have two choices, either the government should legislate more environmental protections for private land, or we’ve got to have private environmental organizations heavily involved in conservation.
In terms of the forest service, I beleive the solution is indeed more democracy. The Bush Administration removed many of the mecahnisms by which the public could be involved in the decision making process. We need to not only roll back those changes, but increase the voice that the public has in important decisions.
Of course, all these things are federal. On the local level there just isn’t the expertise within staff and elected officials to really manage environmental issues. For example, if there’s a question about how easily a scientist can identify a James Spiny Mussel then how would you expect a Supervisor or a staff member to know about them and write policy to protect them? I suppose we could indeed have local governments hire biologists for just this sort of thing, but I haven’t seen it happen yet. Therefore, the knowledge of private citizens and environmental groups has to be utilized if we are to save these important species.
Bringing this back on subject, if there were sensitive species impacted by water supply issues or the Meadowcreek Parkway, then the only way you’d ever really know that is with the involvement of private groups.
The TNC and other PRIVATE conservation groups work in mysterious ways. Sometimes they support the endangered species and other times they bury them under freeways. The Washington Post has many articles of misdeeds of the TNC.
Private interest are just that PRIVATE. They operate in secrete to accomplish their PRIVATE agenda. What they publish on their web pages is meaningless. This is something I have just discovered by watching their deeds and conduct on public task forces.
At lease PUBLIC officials have to abide with OPEN Government, Dillon Rules and Freedom of Information Acts.
You might like to review this:
Want more, well there is a long list thanks to the Washington Post. Want to do something about it, well good luck. A past president of TNC is Hank Paulson. These are big, if not biggest, money fish.
I am well aware of the past controversies concerning TNC. As I said, they are not without faults, and were rightfully called on those. They are, by far, the most conservative of the environmental organizations out there, which has given then influence where many more liberal organizations can’t make any significant progress. The downside is that in their attempts to cozy up to big business and political conservatives, that they have sometimes lost sight of their actual mission…
They’ve also conserved more land than probably any other agency on earth (often turning it over to public management). They also constructed the database used pretty much universally to track the kind of Data that C-ville Eye wanted (i.e. documentation of rare species and locations).
It’s easy to condemn them, but if they weren’t there, then who do you see doing tha work instead? Where would local government get it’s data from? Would you advocate a massive hiring of scientists?
What is far more important is to make sure that there are other less politically conservative environmental organizations that help represent contrary viewpoints. That’s a far cry from saying you shouldn’t have private groups working to protect the enviroment.
Besides, when a private group or individual does public work, it then becomes subject to FOIA (except things like rare species data when it is kept in a privately owned DB).
“”It’s a Last Great Place for David Letterman,” quipped former Conservancy executive David Morine, now one of its critics. ”
Thanks Richard Lloyd for the links to the Washington Post articles. And to think that the Nature Conservancy would like the City to turn over the Ragged Mountain Natural Area to its “guardianship.” Let me see, in Martha’s Vineyard, TNC received 215 acres and turned over more than half of it to developers of MacMansions in order to “protect” and “conserve” the endangered habitat. It was a gross mistake for Martha’s Vineyard officials to trust TNC and I think it will be a gross mistake for local officials to get involved with TNC at any level. The fiction that one of their employees whose real career is in serving as a political aide can actually design an engineering project is laughable.
Dirt Worshipper, it is clear you attempt to make a point by severly distorting other peoples’ words. It would take me about two hours to dig through your convolutions and I know it will be for naught, so I won’t bother.
Dirt, you must live in a hole.
You ignore the DEQ, COE, DRC, EPA Dept. of Natural Resources and a host of other agencies and departments of our government. Thousands upon thousands of scientists, engineers and enviornmentalists working to carry out the publics agenda of protecting our world.
TNC has a few individual “scientists” carrying out the TNC agenda.
And you claim TNC protects more than any other organization. Well I guess thats correct in the private world. They have duped the public into giving them property and easements. But they are really really small in comparison to the National Park and Forest System.
Your argument is disrespectful to the best educated and most experienced scientists on the planet who work tirelessly for the PUBLIC good.
Okay, in terms of protection, yes the Forest Service administers 193 million acres, while TNC has protected around 119 million acres (Some of which is also included in the the number above). That said, the forest service is a “land of many uses”, and thus forest service land can be clearcut, strip mined, drilled for oil etc. So in terms of the environment it could hardly be called “protected”.
A better comparison would be to Wilderness Areas, of which there are only 9 million acres. We could also throw in the 30.1 acres under the National Park service, and it still falls under the total of TNC.
Furthermore, even under areas that are supposedly managed for biological resources, such as rare species the Forest Service is notorious for gross mismanagement resulting of loss of those resources.
Take Spring Pond in Augusta county as an example. Beavers moved into a site containing critically endangered plants, including one found only a few places in the entire world, and then flooded the site. The forest service chastized biologists for “tampering with nature” when they tried to breach the beaver dame to save the plants at the site. After several years of appeals the Forest service finally agreed to a plan to lower the water levels. Meanwhile the site had been essentially underwater for several years and almost all rare species at the site had been lost. I can cite all kinds of situations like this. So, has TNC made some rather large mistakes? Yup. Still they’ve done nothing nearly as bad as the Forest Service does on a routine basis.
Those fleets of scientists protecting the environment that you speak of? I’ve been to conferences of leading experts on things like wetland conservation and people tend to know each other on a first name basis and have no trouble fitting in a relatively small room. There is the public perception of huge numbers of scientists working on environmetal issues, but it’s not reality, and they are far out numbered by the scientists paid by corporations or using private grant money.
As I said though, I’m not saying we should get rid of the forest service and other public agencies, I’m just responding to the crazy notion that private environmental groups should have no role in conservation. Are their many good scientists doing good work under public agencies? Absolutely, but they are generally underpaid, underfunded and understaffed. Plus none of those agencies you named were under local government, and yet most endangered species are on private lands. Local policy then has far more impact on conservation than federal policy, yet local governments have few paid scientists working on conservation issues.
Do you disagree? Then why are we still losing so many species and habitats? Obviously something somewhere isn’t being done right by the agencies appointed to the task.
Wow, a hole in the ground with piped in TNC pitch lines. Dirt are you a TNC employee? Facts gathered in about an hour.
A few points in this interesting discussion. You say Dirt “They are, by far, the most conservative of the environmental organizations out there, which has given them influence where many more liberal organizations can’t make any significant progress”
In the case of Ragged Mt, where 54,000 trees would be destroyed in a designated Natural Area, if we build the 112′ dam. The Sierra Club, which once supported the TNC water proposal, now opposes it until restorative dredging of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir is investigated, as a less environmentally damaging, more cost effective solution to our water supply needs.
I see this as a far more principled position than that of TNC’s apparent willingness to stick to a proposal fraught with inaccurate data and with no apparent concern for the cost to those who will pay for it.
The Nature Conservancy is not the entity that should be designing our future water plan Mr. Crutchfield’s letter to the Hook succinctly makes that point:
“What is the professional qualification of the Nature Conservancy for developing this plan? Apparently, an official with the Nature Conservancy devised it. According to its website, the Nature Conservancy’s mission is “to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.” The Nature Conservancy performs this mission admirably. However, designing municipal water systems is not one of their core competencies. Prudent businesspeople would not have based a decision on a plan developed by an organization that did not have the appropriate expertise and experience.
Did the Nature Conservancy understand the full environmental impact of their plan? It has been reported that their plan calls for clear cutting 54,000 trees over 180 acres. Apparently, the Sierra Club now understands the plan’s impact and is withdrawing its endorsement of it. Prudent businesspeople would have understood all aspects of a plan before adopting it.”
I also find TNC’s involvement in the Meadowcreek Stream Restoration project of questionable value and largely a cover for RWSA to enlarge the sewer pipe, cut lots of trees, and reck havoc on the city property in that area. Why would the city pay for this ? Obviously the overflow in high rain events that they claim necessitates this is caused by county growth that has already taken place –too many new county developments already hooked up to this system. The new development needing this enlargement is also primarily in the county. If stringent water conservation plans were required for new developments hooking up, I don’t believe we would need an enlargement of this pipe. This project’s cost should be charged to the county.
Fat chance. The last councilor I heard ask any questions about this was Kevin Lynch.
If you need a copy of the 4 Party Agreement, I will furnish one. It is clear in how the city and county will pay for new facilities. And yes it says the county should pay for the interceptor.
he only thing standing between huge bills to the city residents to pay for county growth is City Council. The question is “Will they fold?”. Dave Norris is a huge question in my book. He makes few good comments in defense of the city but in the end gives the County everything it ask for over and over again.
No, I am acquainted with that provision that was made around the time RWSA was being formed. I have suspected that the interceptor is being greatly enlarged to accommodate Albemarle Place and points north and has nothing to do with stormwater seepage. If the sewer line needs repair, then the City is partially responsible for that, but, the City should not be responsible for that large price tag. AS for Council really having a determining say in it, Council has had to withhold funds from RWSA/RSWA? for several years and the disagreement was supposedly brokered by Mike Gaffney, thus, endearing him to Council so much that they recently reappointed him to the RWSA. As for the majority vote, Gaffney, Fern and Tucker provided that for the RWSA. That AUTHORITY is accountable to no one but itself under its present composition and that’s why I recommend that it be dissolved and be reconstitued with elected representatives of the rate payers.
I agree Cville Eye we need to dissolve the RWSA and start over, but have yet to hear if that is legally possible. Do you know or does anyone ?
Maybe this setup is why TNC has such influence over our local governments. This is an organization that it actually started with State approval: http://www2.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/article/fluvannas_moss_to_lead_river_commission/43204/#When:04:01:56Z
Betty, actaully I don’t disagree. I can’t say whether TNC was really the best qualified group to help write the water plan, or not. It does seem like an odd choice.
I was just responding to claims that non-profits have no business being involved in conservation, or advising local goverments. After all, if that were the case, then it would be equally true of the Sierra Club. Non-profit advocacy groups are not anti-democratic. I’d argue that they are democracy in action. You or I can write a letter suggesting that they should dredge instead of expand, but if we form a group then we can often be more effective at getting our opinions heard (maybe it shouldn’t have to be that way, but it is.)
I also question the notion of a grand conspiracy. I think TNC’s motivations are pretty transparent, and in line with their stated mission. As I said, they do have an agenda, and it tends to be a bit more politically conservative than other environmental groups (although officially they are beyond politics). Even so, I’m absolutely sure that those people involved in the water supply issue really did feel they were acting with the best interests of the environment in mind. A truth in life is that everyone who was ever seriously wrong, probably believed they were right…
That said, I personally think the Sierra Club’s perspective is also flawed in many ways (although I’ve got deep respect for them). I think there’s the tendancy to simply count trees or acres without seeing a more detailed picture of conservation on the ground. After all, what if you save 54,000 trees, but cause a rare habitat to be destroyed or species to go extinct? Is is worth it?
“I was just responding to claims that non-profits have no business being involved in conservation, or advising local goverments.” I did not read on this blog anything remotely resembling this statement. There is a BIG difference between being an advisor and serving on a decision-making body with a vote, unelected.
“I think TNC’s motivations are pretty transparent, and in line with their stated mission.” Richard Lloyd provided a link to TNC’s duplicity in receiving 215 acres and turning 105 to residential development to people like David Letterman. I read nothing remotely resembling that “goal” on their website.
“I can’t say whether TNC was really the best qualified group to help write the water plan, or not.” Apparently there was no TNC “group” that helped to do anything, just Ridge Schuyler, whose profession and experience lies in being a politician’s aide.
“I’m absolutely sure that those people involved in the water supply issue really did feel they were acting with the best interests of the environment in mind.” Which environment, certainly NOT the one at Ragged Mountain?
“After all, what if you save 54,000 trees, but cause a rare habitat to be destroyed or species to go extinct? Is is worth it?” What on earth are you talking about? What species?
It’s probably pointless to mention it, since you disagree with everything on priniciple, but actually even the case you cite does indeed reflect TNC’s mission.
The nature of the mess TNC got itself into was mainly through its “conservation buyer” program. The idea was that it would be an additional conservation tool where other conventional means weren’t feasible. It works like this: TNC buys up an area that is potentially developable, and then places an easement on it then resells at a loss to a landowner who is willing to abide by a conservation agreement. This way, the landowner gets a better deal, the land gets some measure of conservation, and TNC gets reimbursed for most of their costs. Unfortunately, they made a huge mistake by letting people associated with TNC buy from the program creating a conflict of interest. Thus the controversy resulting in the replacement of a large number of board members.
In another controversy, they were selling properties for development that were donated to them that had less conservation value. TNC gets all kinds of property donated to them, and some has significant conservation value and some doesn’t. Some donors were under the impression that if they donated their land to TNC that it’d be protected forever, when TNC thought it’d be a good strategic move to sell off some properties to buy more critical ones with rare species or habitats. This lack of communication with donors really bit them bigtime.
Lastly, as a general policy, TNC isn’t above compromising with commercial interests in order to claim a “victory”. They have purchased property with rare species only to allow controversial activities like drilling for natural gas.
So… as I said, TNC is not perfect, but all their mistakes pretty much were understandable given their mission. None involved some vast conspiracy. Their really failing is often their philosophy itself, which is far more conservative than groups like the Sierra Club. Then again, the Sierra Club can’t claim nearly the level of success in terms of acres protected that TNC has. Plus TNC essentially created the Natural Heritage programs in every state, and provided them with the database (NatureServe) that they use to do their work. There’s no serious conservation professional out there that doesn’t use TNC developed resources to accomplish their work.
What species? Exactly. Can the Sierra Club provide a list of what will be affected either way? For that matter, can Save McIntire provide a list of what species and habitats will be affected by the Meadowcreek Parkway? If you want to make a compelling case you need that kind of detail. So far that’s been pretty lacking.
Since when has the matter of conservation of land become limited to the protection of endangered species?
Yes, I won’t argue with you that Real Estate III, Stevens & Stevens, and McLean Faulconer can’t compete with TNC when it comes to wheeling and dealing of large tracts of land ending in development.
Dirt Worshipper, do you know if Ridge Schuyler has been replaced at TNC or are you hoping to get the job?
He’s been gone for quite some time (which is a shame because he promised me a hike on one of their properties.)
Let me summarize this problem very simply. TNC thinks growth in the Albemarle area is inevitable, and the Sierra Club doesn’t. TNC’s plan reflects the amount of growth projected for the county, while the Sierra Club (and ASAP) think they have a chance at restricting that growth and requiring more water conservation. That’s it. That’s the real debate.
Unfortunately, some people have resorted to conspiracy theories, name calling, and all sorts of other tactics instead of addressing the real issue (growth) directly and honestly. After all, if only the developments already planned and approved are built out and nothing is done abut the water situation then we will have a water crisis that even dredging can’t fix. In other words, without addressing the real issue, and by wasting time on conspiracy theories, you’re going to lose Ragged Mountain anyway. Best of luck with that…
So, you’re saying that there’s a conspiracy between the small number of people in TNC and the Sieera Club and ASAP because their agendas are based upon growth. Well, I’m for the plan that Frederick’s predecessor promoted and I’m not anti-growth. You should have been here when Chalbemarle had fewer than 50,000 people. Boring in many ways. The more the area has grown, the more interesting the people have become. Since, neither the TNC, the SC, ASAP or other groups do not vote RWSA, why has RWSA agreed to look again at dredging? Money. That’s the root of the real issue. And, if it takes name calling to knock a few people off of the thrones they have claimed for themselves, then so be it. Until some of these groups came along, those in decision-making seats were acting as royalty and not in a democratic way. Our elected officials were ignoring the issue of ample water and their surrogates were hostile to public questioning. Name calling? They’re lucky they didn’t experience worse, like cussin them up one side and down the other and picketing. I hope their feelings are as hurt as those from the public who tried to tell them they didn’t have enough information (that they are now trying to get) to move forward on such a costly project.
Perhpas you haven’t noticed the new development in Augusta, Greene, Fluvanna and Louisa counties. If there’s a shift in comercial uses, there’s going to be a shift in population, and, most likely, development in Chalbemarle with be curtailed. What ever happened to the South Pointe development for example. I’m sure its permit is about to run out, if it already has not. Future development will always be a question of money, not water or sewer. After all, the world isn’t really beating down the door to get here, which is evidenced by all of the vacant houses and commercial spaces Chalbemarle currently has. So, your “if” is my “it is unlikely.”
The comprehensive plan of the city and county determine growth. Once we accurately calculate the amount of water we will need based on a 10 year trend of decreasing water use and accurate population projections for the 50 year planning period, then we will probably learn that dredging plus a realistic conservation goal for the 50 year water plan ( not the current 5%) will provide all the water we need for the development allocated in our comprehensive plans. Let’s all work together to get accurate information now that we’ve fired the consultants. Isn’t that good government?
Betty, I may disagree on numbers, but I think your approach is reasonable.
I should also add though that the Comprehensive Plan doesn’t actually determine the amount of growth. Unfortunately we’re in one of those states where actively restricting growth is essentially against the law. We can indirectly restrict growth through tougher requirements or downzoning, but that is the limit of what can be done.
Nonetheless, I agree that the water plan should be consistent with the comprehensive plan. If developers circumvent that, and build more than the plan calls for, then the county/city is not obligated to provide them water, roads, etc. (but standing firm against those “new voters” will always be difficult). I also think it was justified to boot some of the consultants, and that greater public examination of the process will result in a better water plan.
Dirt Worshiper, I have enjoyed reading your comments and do believe that with better information we will have a better plan. I would like to meet you and talk over coffee sometime, I think we could both learn something, so please contact me thru the web-site if you feel so disposed. I have always believed that dialogue is the best way to solve problems.
Sounds like a plan. I’ll drop you a note soon, and we can meet and discuss these things.
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