The Piedmont View

Winter 2010 Piedmont View

Dear friends,

As autumn passes, the leaves fall and clear, slanting light reveals the contours of the Piedmont. The harvests are nearly complete, as the first hard frosts nip the fields. Hawks and eagles are swirling in the air with the leaves, following the cold fronts down from the north. For PEC, these events signal the change of seasons and the beginning of new opportunities. Winter is a busy time with the General Assembly in full swing in Richmond, a rush of conservation easements to complete, and the never ending process of responding to land use, transportation, energy and economic development proposals. The end of the year is also when PEC needs to raise funds to cover nearly one third of our operating budget.

PEC is mobilizing citizens to stop a 650-home development in Catlett that would swell this quiet, historic village in the farm country of southern Fauquier County to five times its current size.

Kids can taste the difference on Local Foods Day, when all the cafeterias in the Rappahannock County Public Schools serve food that was grown in the county -- hamburger from Jenkins Orchard and Adams Slaughterhouse, salad with vegetables from Waterpenny Farm as well as arugula from the school gardens, and apple crisp with fruit from Lees Orchard.

"It's so good," fourth grader Jessica Martzall said about her lunch. "It tastes fresher and cleaner," said Amanda Pushkar. "It tastes better."

Just a few years ago, a 260 acre farm near the Town of Orange, called Andrewsia, was slated for a subdivision of 319 houses, but the turn in the housing market has brought about a dramatically different future for this land. Facing a weak market, the developer abandoned the project and, instead, donated the land to PEC.

The long process of forming a plan for water and sewer infrastructure in Culpeper has brought some good news.

PEC is working to keep a proposed power plant near the northern entrance to Shenandoah National Park from harming air quality and scenery in the park and the surrounding region. PEC recommends that permits for the proposed natural gas plant should be denied unless Dominion Virginia Power, the applicant, can mitigate its impacts to the satisfaction of the National Park Service.

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors appears poised to adopt the Places29 plan, after making some final changes at its Nov. 10 meeting. PEC has been a longstanding advocate for Places29 -- a blueprint for strategic transportation investments and smart land use planning that will reduce traffic congestion and create better options for walking, biking and public transit. The current draft, which will go to a vote in January, is a positive outcome from a meeting at which there was real danger that the Board would fundamentally weaken the plan.

Roy Dye, who serves on PEC's Board of Directors, is working to revitalize Stanardsville through streetscape improvements that will make this historic town more pedestrian-friendly, attractive and prosperous. "It's a labor of love," says Mr. Dye, who directs Stanardsville Area Revitalization, or STAR.

For the fourth year in a row, PEC's Gem Bingol coordinated a Conservation Fair that was attended by all fourth graders in Clarke County. The theme of this year's event was "Watersheds: Discovering Our Connections." With its focus on water, the event tied into local efforts to clean up Spout Run, which is on the state list of impaired waters because of pollution from bacteria and sediment.

PEC is helping to put on two holiday markets in Madison this year.

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