The Piedmont View

Winter 2011 Piedmont View

Dear Friends,

As PEC approaches our 40th anniversary year, in 2012, I am struck by the breadth of issues and activities that the communities of the Piedmont are engaged in, with PEC as both a leader and partner. All of what PEC does is only possible because of your contributions.

Three children romped down the trail, shouting in unison, "We found the Osage Orange! We found the Osage Orange!" The softball-sized fruit, with its bright green, wrinkled shell was the last thing they needed to complete a 26-item scavenger hunt on the Chapman-DeMary Trail in Purcellville -- having already discovered hackberry, wild grape, a small island in the creek, a bug on the ground, a good hiding place, and the rest.

In 1979, Bill Speiden was offered a lease for uranium mining and milling on his Orange County farm. That uranium hasn’t gone anywhere.

The debate over uranium mining and milling in Virginia is coming to a head, with a much-awaited study from the National Academy of Sciences due to be released in December. Proponents are pushing the General Assembly to end the state’s ban on uranium mining in the January 2012 session. The stakes are high; not just for southwest Virginia, but for the entire state—including the Piedmont.

Diana Norris anticipates a "trial by fire" as she starts work as PEC's new Land Use Officer for Fauquier County, with the County facing several large development proposals, among other major issues.

For the fifth year in a row, PEC organized the annual Clarke County Conservation Fair, which brings all the fourth graders in the county together, learning how and why to protect natural resources. This year, the theme of the event was "The Riches of Nature."

VDOT gave plans for the Charlottesville Western Bypass an F. So why spend half a billion dollars on it?

That's the question that PEC posed to Charlottesville and Albemarle residents though ads in local papers and a mailing that we sent to 15,000 homes -- part of our full-on campaign to stop this wasteful bypass from moving forward ahead of better alternatives.

Farmers are using a unique incentive program coordinated by PEC to substantially expand water quality protections in our region. The program helps cover their costs for fencing livestock out of streams.

In October, Orange County approved a special use permit for a new Walmart Supercenter at the intersection of Rt. 3 and Somerset Ridge Road, near Lake of the Woods. Walmart's decision to seek an alternate location, rather than building at Wilderness Battlefield, was good news for the battlefield. But the proposal remained controversial because of its impact on another historic site, the Germanna Colony, first established in 1714 on what was then the westernmost outpost of the Virginia frontier.

Fifteen years ago, Bruce Jones’ research led him to the discovery that, in his words, “Native plants are the basic building blocks for the whole ecology of our area.” So, he and his wife Susan began the epic project of replacing invasive plants with native plants on about 87 acres of their property, now known as the Jones Nature Preserve.

Fried Companies is pushing forward with a plan to build 1,180 new residential units in Greene County. This proposal, called Creekside, will be the subject of a public hearing this December.

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