The Piedmont View

Fall 2013 Piedmont View

This year's fall edition of the Piedmont View includes a feature article and Letter from the President reflecting on the campaign against Disney's America, twenty years after it was first proposed. PLUS-- Bruce Smart reminds us of a second Earth Day in November; PEC helps expand a community greenway; updates on the Western Bypass and Outer Beltway; and PEC fellows reflect on their experience. You can read the individual articles online or view a PDF of the whole issue if you prefer.

Virginia’s northern Piedmont is a beautiful and vibrant place—boasting of forests, rivers, mountains, farmland, thriving towns, and numerous historic and cultural resources. But all of this came under threat in November 1993, when the The Walt Disney Company made a surprise announcement that they planned to build an American history theme park near what was then the small town of Haymarket, VA—only four miles from Manassas Battlefield. 

I can’t believe that 20 years have passed since Disney made plans to build a history-themed amusement park in Virginia’s Piedmont, which they called “Disney’s America.” Inevitably, I get calls every year from people researching the debate over the potential impacts of the proposed theme park and real estate development. I expect that in the coming year the debate will be renewed and discussed in many forums—perhaps in conversations that you are part of. So, I thought it would be useful to offer my perspective on why the campaign against “Disney’s America” was so important to the future of the Piedmont region and Virginia, but also to the future of PEC and conservation organizations.

The first two steps in land management are to assess what condition the land is in and then decide what your goals are. PEC is going through both of these steps at the Piedmont Memorial Overlook—our 50-acre tract that straddles Clarke and Fauquier county.

Last April, I wrote a newspaper column celebrating Earth Day 2013. I pointed out that, in the words of a wise friend, there are in fact two Earth Days each year. In April we celebrate our planet’s physical and biological assets—the ecosystems that support all life and add beauty and wonder to the human experience. Earth Day #2 is Election Day, when we choose officials who will determine the rules by which we protect— or don’t protect—our little section of planet Earth.

The Warrenton Branch Greenway is a treasured community resource in Old Town Warrenton. The 1.5 mile-long trail not only provides a great outdoor recreational space, but it is also an important historic resource—as it follows the old Orange and Alexandria Rail-road line that was built in the 1850s. Today, thousands of people use this trail annually to enjoy running, walking and biking. 

A quick update on the Charlottesville Western Bypass and DC Outer Beltway

There's a lot going on throughout the region, including short stories from Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison and Orange.

PEC’s Fellowship Program, which just finished its 7th year, gives college and graduate students a comprehensive look at the work PEC does in this region. Through classroom discussions, field trips, hands-on activities, and a final project—participants gain practical knowledge and skills to transition into careers in conservation, urban planning, agriculture, historic preservation, public policy, and other related fields. PEC’s staff obviously thinks the Fellowship is a great program, but don’t take our word for it! Check out what some fellows said after completing the program this summer:

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