Wilderness Crossing

Wilderness Crossing is an approved 2,600-acre rezoning and proposed development in Orange County near the intersection of Rt. 3 and Rt. 20 adjacent to Wilderness Battlefield and across from Lake of the Woods. On April 25, 2023, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the rezoning request, making it the largest land rezoning in County history.

aerial of wildnerness crossing property with mine icon overlay
Aerial image of the Wilderness Crossing site across from the Sheetz and McDonald’s at the Rt. 3/Rt. 20 intersection in Orange County. Photo by Hugh Kenny, PEC.

In addition to concerns about industrial development (data centers and distribution centers), taxes, infrastructure (water and sewer), traffic, and habitat fragmentation, Wilderness Crossing is also the site of numerous unreclaimed gold mines—essentially, mines that have never been closed off and cleaned up of contaminants such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead. The largest mine on the property, called the Vaucluse mine, was at one time considered for potential inclusion as an EPA Superfund site. Since it was never cleaned up, the tailings pit is likely still leaching toxic chemicals into Shotgun Hill Branch today and is an expected source of contamination in Wilderness Run, and ultimately, the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers. PEC recommends that Orange County seriously consider how the toxic legacy of gold mining at this location could impact the health, safety and welfare of future residents and downstream communities.

PEC has been following the Wilderness Crossing proposal since the application was first submitted by developer KEG Associates III in March of 2021. Along with our partners in the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, we will continue to monitor this project closely to keep local residents informed and to push the County for rigorous review of any related, future permits or requests as the developer moves forward.

aerial photo of orange county where wilderness crossing is proposed

Wilderness Crossing Town Hall on Oct. 25

As reported in my last email, the Wilderness Crossing proposal continues to wind its way through the rezoning application process in Orange County …
gold mine webmap screenshot

Virginia’s Former Gold Mines with Priority Level for Reclamation – PEC Web Map

In 2022, The Piedmont Environmental Council was proud to partner with volunteers from UVA’s Clark Scholars program on a project to analyze the reclamation status of former gold mine sites throughout the Commonwealth. Using data …
aerial photo of orange county where wilderness crossing is proposed

Wilderness Crossing is Back

I’ve been monitoring the project for several months, as it has slowly made its way through the county application process. Now, the developer is finally holding a community briefing, and I want to make sure …
a map that show the Wilderness Crossing site in red, with at least seven former mine sites denote with pick axe symbols

A Potential Superfund Site?

Last year, we told you about a developer’s proposal for a 2,602-acre development across from Lake of the Woods on Rt. 3 in Orange County and next to Wilderness National Battlefield. With continued investigation, we …
aerial photo of orange county where wilderness crossing is proposed

Wilderness Crossing developer proposes reckless path forward

In January, the developer behind Wilderness Crossing submitted a letter to the county regarding unreclaimed mine sites on the 2,602-acre property …
a map that show the Wilderness Crossing site in red, with at least seven former mine sites denote with pick axe symbols

Shocking news about historic gold mining contamination

Last fall, PEC learned some important new information related to the gold mining legacy at the proposed site of the Wilderness Crossing residential development: of the five formally-named gold mines located on the property, none …
aerial image of forested land next to a major road

Wilderness Crossing: New Residential Development or Potential Superfund Site?

In November 2021, PEC learned that of the five formally-named gold mine sites located on the proposed Wilderness Crossing residential development, none of them have been closed and cleaned up – a process called “reclamation.” …
aerial view of an open-face dirt hills of an open pit gold mining, with green/brown tinted retention ponds and construction vehicles.

Metal mining in Virginia risks public and environmental health

Gold mining historically occurred throughout Virginia in the gold-pyrite belt, including substantial operations across the PEC region in Orange, Culpeper and Fauquier counties. Now, half a century since metals were last mined commercially, the threat …
aerial photo of orange county where wilderness crossing is proposed

The Trouble with Wilderness Crossing

When it comes to policies and decisions that impact communities and quality of life for their residents, the most important voices are those of community residents themselves. And since 1972, The Piedmont Environmental Council has …
aerial image of forested land next to a major road

The Wilderness Crossing Proposal Explained

The massive 2,602-acre rezoning would be the largest in county history, if approved …