Monthly Archives: June 2013

Nonconstituent service on the Outer Beltway

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“It’s not a frickin’ beltway” — Scott York (R-Toll Brothers)

As one of its very first official acts upon taking office last year, our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to reverse the previous board’s insistence that state transportation officials ought to respect local planning decisions and priorities. In other words, the new board took the highly principled stand that VDOT should be completely free to overrule what local citizens want — and build highways where they are not needed, destroy existing communities, and endanger historic battlefields and parks.

It was no mystery what this was all about: for years the road pavers and home builders lobby has been pushing to build a massive, unnecessary, billion-dollar new highway running from I-95 south of Washington, smack through Manassas, and up to Leesburg. This north-south extravaganza would do nothing to alleviate the east-west commuter traffic congestion, would threaten the Manassas battlefield, and would dump unsupportable traffic volumes onto Rt 7 and 15 at Leesburg, and north to the Potomac River crossing at Point of Rocks.

But it also would be a big fat gift to developers seeking to open up the Loudoun rural transition area to high-density housing, which has been the real reason for it all along. Continue reading

A scientific and sensible response to a half-baked politically motivated plan

The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has just sent Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) this very well-argued response to the all-Republican Loudoun Board’s inane plan to spray pesticides in nature preserves and parks under the woefully misinformed premise it will have any effect whatsoever in preventing Lyme disease:

Dear Supervisor York,

As you can imagine, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is concerned with the Board of Supervisors’ plan to spray pesticides in our local parks, especially at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve which was recently certified as a Monarch Waystation and a County-level example of a healthy habitat through the Audubon at Home program.

Spraying pesticides in a nature preserve should not occur. It violates the intent of establishing this place as a wildlife habitat. In the least, we request that you remove Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve from your targeted list and we will commit to working with Banshee Reeks staff in educating visitors on effective approaches that reduce the likelihood of contracting Lyme disease.

We oppose spraying in the Parks in general not only because we believe it is an ineffective approach to addressing Lyme disease but also because we are concerned that the plan to spray may not be based on sound data or analysis and it will provide people with a false sense of security.

We would like to receive the full set of data from the tick collection survey that was performed in the County parks. We have read the report produced by Dr.Goodfriend and have questions about the data and some of the conclusions reached.

Additionally, we would like to know the following:
– What methodology was used to select locations in the parks to spray
– What citizen data was used to select the Parks for spraying (i.e. what are the correlations between people getting Lyme and the Parks selected)
– What method will be used to apply the pesticides
– What is the frequency with which pesticides will be applied
– What is the total amount of pesticides that will be applied in each park
– What protocol will be followed for the pesticide application
– How is citizen data being collected to determine the degree of the Lyme disease problem in Loudoun and what is the statistical confidence of that data

Ultimately, we would like to see the Board cancel the contract to spray. However, in the event that the County does proceed, we would like to know what steps the Board is going to take to measure the impact of the spraying, both in terms of how the Board plans to measure the degree to which spraying results in a reduction of Lyme disease in the County, and the environmental impact of the spraying on pollinators and other wildlife in all of the Parks.

We look forward to your response, especially given that the plan to spray pesticides is planned to start this week.

Sincerely,

Nicole Hamilton
President, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

Not at all coincidentally, the Board offered virtually no warning or notice of its spraying schedule. It first posted the news last Wednesday that spraying was scheduled to begin the following day. Banshee Reeks was scheduled to have been sprayed yesterday, but the spraying was postponed due to the rain.

The revised schedule remains a more closely guarded secret than what Scott York knew about Eugene Delgaudio’s finagling of his office staff and funds for personal gain.

This of course is one way to deal with the citizens: just keep them in the dark until it’s too late to complain.

Even-more mindless spraying

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors’ latest publicity stunt in its effort to pretend to be “targeting” Lyme disease turns out to be even more inane and ill-planned than we realized.

Among the county parks slated shortly to be hit with pesticide spraying, in a supposed effort to safeguard visitors from encountering ticks, is (as we reported earlier this week) Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve. The idea of hosing down a nature preserve with chemical pesticides probably strikes most people as ridiculous, to say the least. But it’s even more absurd, given that just last month (does ANYONE pay attention to these things in our county government leadership???), Banshee Reeks was granted certification by the Audubon Society and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy as a recognized Wildlife Sanctuary, based on, among other things . . . the elimination of pesticide use. Continue reading

Our tin pot dictators, er supervisors

Our 9–0 all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors has taken a completely consistent approach to public participation in government.

They’re against it.

Repeatedly since taking office in January 2012, the Board has taken major zoning and planning actions — actions that not coincidentally frequently directly benefit their major campaign contributors — without informing the public ahead of time and with an utter disregard for, and even contempt toward, public opinion.

The latest case in point is a motion slated for a vote this afternoon to initiate a zoning amendment that will remove all public input from decisions on siting of new elementary, middle, and high schools. Continue reading

Take that, nature

Only our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors could come up with the bright idea of spraying toxic chemical pesticides in a nature preserve, but their eagerness to appease the Lyme Loonies led by local wacko right-wing religious zealot and science denier Michael Farris apparently knows no bounds.

Last year, not even bothering to talk to anyone who actually knows anything about the science of Lyme disease, ticks, or how to apply pesticides safely, the Board rushed out a $10,000 contract to have nine county parks sprayed with a dangerous pesticide, hosing down a total of 196 acres including open grassy areas and ballfields — completely oblivious to the unanimous expert guidelines which state that even if you think spraying pesticides is an effective strategy to reduce human exposure to the tick-borne disease  (the evidence actually suggests it is a total waste), only a small band a few yards wide along the edges of woods ought to be sprayed (i.e., the places where ticks actually live) —  and that it is utterly pointless, as well as dangerous to humans and deadly to honeybees, to spray open areas. Had they followed the proper procedure, they would have sprayed at most 6 acres instead of 196 acres.

This year, the hit list of targeted parks includes Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve: under the contract issued last Friday, the county will be fearlessly attempting to create a nature-free cordon sanitaire by spraying along the the nature trails in this nature preserve. (The other parks to be sprayed are West Brambleton Regional Park, Claude Moore Park, Conklin Park, Franklin Park, and Philip A. Bolen Park.)

Continue reading