The spring 2021 edition of the Piedmont View was mailed out to PEC members in March. To become a member of The Piedmont Environmental Council visit pecva.org/join.
The arrival of Spring 2021 brings with it a special sense of rebirth and reopening as we emerge from the incredible challenges we faced together in 2020. As the weather warms, the spring ephemerals emerge, the amphibians meet in cool pools, and bird migrations begin, we are also hopeful for the return to the places, people and events that confirm our sense of community and shared mission.
When I saw “replacement” of the circa 1878 Waterloo Bridge—the oldest metal truss bridge still in service in Virginia at the time—on the Fauquier County Transportation Committee agenda back in October 2013, I knew exactly who to turn to.
Carl and Elise Siebentritt’s 29-acre “mountain oasis,” two miles west of Lucketts along the Catoctin ridge and 3.5 miles northeast of Waterford in Loudoun County, was the hub and the heart of their large family for more than 30 years. Daughter Heidi and her husband held their wedding party there. Eldest son Carl III was married there and made it “home base” between overseas assignments with the State Department. Two other siblings, in Maryland and Georgia, moved their families in for a few years to help care for Elise and Carl in the years before each passed away. All 13 grandchildren and one great grandchild knew the woods like the backs of their hands from years of hiking, foraging, and camping.
Stretching 15 miles from the village of Aldie in Loudoun County south to New Baltimore in Fauquier County, the Bull Run Mountains have stories to tell. The mountain range is home to 10 unique plant, forest and woodland ecosystems supporting uncommon and threatened plant and animal species. Its hills were the scene of the Battle at Thoroughfare Gap during the Civil War. The rocky ridges and quartzite cliffs on its western side, along with the shadow of its eastern toe and its hollows, are said to have once guided slaves fleeing bondage via the Underground Railroad.
Long before Shenandoah National Park was established in 1935, generations of people pushed up into the Blue Ridge Mountains and called them home. Houses dotted the hillsides and hollows, churches and schools served the population, and general stores and post offices brought services directly into the mountains.
The last six months has been a whirlwind of legislative action. The 2020 special session extended into mid-October, creating a mad scramble at its conclusion to prepare for the 2021 regular session. PEC was busy drafting bills and budget amendments, finding sponsors and having the conversations necessary to set up our initiatives for success before the new session began on January 13. The 2021 regular session was eventually extended into a special session that concluded on March 1.
The 2020 Special Session, focused on resolving budget issues stemming from Covid and addressing police and criminal justice reform, has ended just in time for the holidays. But as in the movie Groundhog Day, now we prepare to do it all over again. Virginia’s 2021 legislative session opens on Jan 13 and will prove no less challenging than the special session. At this moment, details are still fluid, but here is what we know.