An Albemarle and Charlottesville Update

The following text was sent out via email on September 21, 2023. Sign up for PEC email alerts →

aerial photo of residential and commercial buildings amongst green trees with mountains in the background
Looking out over Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Photo credit Hugh Kenny/PEC.

Dear Supporter,

As the hazy heat and humidity of this Virginia summer fades from memory with the welcoming of fall, I want to share some of what The Piedmont Environmental Council has going on in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. It has been a busy summer here as we continue to work to protect and restore the lands and waters of the Virginia Piedmont, while building stronger, more sustainable communities. 

One recent project I’m particularly excited to share with you can be seen in this short video, which shows the value of community participation in connecting the soon-to-open Biscuit Run Park to the Southwood neighborhood nearby. This trail and bridge will provide access to urban green space and a pathway for bike/ped friendly transportation in the area. Local residents are playing a leading role. PEC continues to connect neighborhoods like these with public agencies and private landowners to build greater connectivity.

Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan Update Process Continues

Albemarle County is in the second of four phases of its AC44 comprehensive plan update. This document will guide decisions about new development, infrastructure, utilities, transportation, natural resources, conservation, rural areas, housing, and public access for the next 20 years – until 2044. PEC continues to engage and help organize community voices, advocate for a rural area plan not currently included in the proposed update, speak at Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings, and has created a set of policy recommendations for the County’s AC44 plan and its Climate Action Platform

But it’s also important they hear from you about the values you find significant, as it’s our shared future. 

Three Planning Commission work sessions for community input will be held throughout the fall focused on different topic areas. And prior to each public work session, there will be a community pop-up event in the Let’s Talk Albemarle van and two open office hour dates in the County Building. We encourage you to give feedback at any or all of these, in questionnaires, and directly to the Commission and Board on what you want Albemarle to look like in 20 years. The first pop-up is this weekend at Loop de Ville and the questionnaires for the first topics are live, with links below. We’ll see you there!

Upcoming Work Session Dates and Topics:

rivanna trail
Hiking the Rivanna Trail at Loop de Ville in 2021. Photo courtesy of the Rivanna Trails Foundation.

Celebrate Public Access to Outdoors at Loop de Ville

Come celebrate National Public Lands Day, the beloved Rivanna Trails, and access to the outdoors alongside PEC and its partners this weekend (Sept. 23 & 24) at the annual Loop de Ville Trail Fest! Numerous hikes, walks, runs, and bike rides are open for people of all abilities at various times and locations around the Rivanna River – plus a free concert and “lightning trail talks” from Piedmont Mobility Alliance members about what’s happening locally and how you can get more involved. There is no charge for any part of this weekend of fellowship and community, though registration is required for guided rides or runs. 

four people planting trees in the ground next to a river
Volunteers create stronger riparian buffer by planting trees alongside Cedar Run.

Partnering to Protect Water Resources and Habitat

Have you ever noticed the ribbon of green growing along a stream, river, or other waterway? What you’re looking at is a riparian buffer, the single most effective means of protecting water quality. 

This past spring, PEC established two new partnerships with the James Riparian Consortium and the James River Buffer Program focused on these ribbons. The Consortium is a network of nonprofit, public and private partners working together to accelerate riparian buffer restoration and protection. The James River Buffer Program helps landowners throughout the watershed install and maintain native riparian buffers on their properties, at no cost to the landowner. By collaborating with these partners on landowner education and outreach, we aim to increase both restoration and permanent conservation of our local waterways. 

If you have a stream that needs restoring, visit the James River Buffer Program’s website to learn more about this great opportunity!

Partnerships like this make positive change happen. This is why we are excited to expand our work this fall on the Virginia Grassland Birds Initiative, a collaboration between PEC and the Smithsonian’s Virginia Working Landscapes, with the hiring of an Albemarle-based staffer. Stay tuned for more information about conservation incentives and educational programs to come. 

Board of Supervisors Election this November

In keeping with the theme of community engagement, I encourage you to learn about the candidates for Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisor. Three of six seats are on the ballot this year. Board members serve four year terms and have the ultimate say on critical land use decisions and policies that impact residents and businesses in the County.

If land use, environmental, or good governance issues are important to you, talk to the candidates early and find out where they stand on critical issues affecting Albemarle County. Talk to your neighbors, volunteer to help get out the vote, and don’t forget to vote in all local elections yourself on November 7!


Rob McGinnis
Senior Field Representative
(434) 962-9110