Archive for July, 2011

Everyone goes into the forest;
some go for a walk to be inspired, and others go to cut down the trees.
-Vladimir Horowitz


The landscape belongs to the person who looks at it.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


The Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning of the property now known as Stonewall Secure Business Park.  Read an article here.

A lot of our members sent in emails – and a couple of us came out and spoke on Monday night.  I think we needed more of us out there in person to speak on this.

This property is environmentaly significant for all the reasons outlined in our action alert . It also formed a key building block in our County’s Transition area.

What is the vision for Loudoun now? Years ago, I recall the bumper sticker, “Don’t Fairfax Loudoun.” What is happening to our County? What unique features will we actually protect for the future? Will we protect any?

The loss of this habitat is significant — from the mature hardwood forests to the sensitive wetlands, and all the wildlife that lives there.

Once the forest has been cleared, and the wetlands have been filled and graded, people will forget it was ever there.  The wildlife will be gone. You and I will remember though, at least for awhile.

Thank you to all of you who sent in your comments.


We’re gearing up for our 15th Annual Loudoun County Butterfly Count and would love to have you join us!

The count takes place on the first Saturday in August each year – so this year it falls on Saturday, August 6th.  We start at 9:00 a.m. by meeting up in our teams at designated meeting spots and we count throughout the day, visiting gardens, sanctuaries and wild roadside locations all within our count circle.

You can participate for the whole day or just part of the day – your choice – but we could sure use your help on a team!

To learn more about the annual butterfly count, see past years data and sign up, visit our Butterfly Count webpage.

Hope you will join us!  All experience levels are welcome!


YES – we are Batty About Bats!!  Come on out for this great FREE family event tomorrow night!

You’ll learn about bat behaviors and lifecycle, hear stories about what they do as they swoop over our yards and ponds, and see BATS!!  What could be cooler? This will be way more fun than swim meet and we promise – none will get caught in your hair – so come on out and join us!

Great program for the whole family!

Here are the full details:

Batty about Bats! Wednesday, July 20, at the Broadlands Community Center 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.  Join us as we welcome Leslie Sturges of Bat World NOVA and learn about the fascinating world of nature’s only flying mammals and their important role in our ecosystem.  Loudoun County is home to seven species of bats, some of which are common and some rare.  After the lecture we will walk around the community center and eavesdrop on bats’ ultrasonic calls as they forage for bugs.  This free, family program is co-sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Broadlands Wildlife Habitats Committee.  The Broadlands Community Center is located at 43008 Waxpool Rd, Broadlands. Questions: contact Laura McGranaghan at


Talk Loudoun, a great local e-zine that features local happenings and local organizations, did a piece on the partnership between Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Dulles Greenway/Toll Road Investors Partnership II (TRIP II) last week.

You can read the article here:


Please take one minute to call your Supervisor (703-777-0100) AND send an email ( Please let them know how you feel about the proposed rezoning for Stonewall Secure Business Park. Come to the Public Hearing on Monday (July 18, 6:30 pm, Government Center, Leesburg) and bring your email. Raise our voice for wildlife!

Approval of this rezoning request, located between Leesburg and Ashburn, on Sycolin Rd, would result in clearing of 190 acres of mature hardwood forest, wetlands and archeological sites and construction of a 3.9 MILLION square foot business park/data center (TWICE the size of the Dulles Town Center)!

Furthermore, approval of the rezoning violates our County’s Comprehensive Plan and Transition Plan, and sets a precedent for further rezoning in this critical area.

Currently, this property is zoned as low density allowing up to 19 residential units with 70% open space required because this area is WIDELY RECOGNIZED for its unique environmental and cultural features. Current zoning needs to stay in place.

Our Position: Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy requests that the Board of Supervisors deny rezoning for the Stonewall Secure Business Park. This area is an extremely critical and environmentally sensitive area and the development use proposed is inappropriate for this location. This land needs to be preserved as a Transition Area as currently zoned. Our opposition to this rezoning is as follows:

1) Destroys Environmentally Sensitive Area: This property contains high quality mature hardwood forest and a SIGNIFICANT area of sensitive wetlands. These are incredibly productive habitats for wildlife that also play a key role in filtering our water supply. If approved, thousands of trees will be clear-cut. It also contains a culturally significant archaeological site which includes a 19th c. pottery kiln, the likes of which are not found elsewhere in the County.

You cannot reproduce this combination elsewhere once destroyed.

2) Causes Potential Harm to Water Supply: This location is in the heart of the watershed for the Goose Creek and at least half of this property drains in to the Goose Creek above the drinking water intake. Development at this extreme removes all protection and natural filtration of water running into our water supply. Furthermore, the significant amount of steep slopes here increases the potential for the development to impact our streams.

3) Further Threatens Likely Wood Turtle Populations: Wood Turtles are a State Threatened species and are known to live in waterways adjacent to this property. This habitat is ideal for Wood Turtles and we expect that Wood Turtles will be found if surveys were performed at the right time of year. This survey has not been completed. Wood turtles require BOTH streams and forest to survive. It is not enough to simply protect the stream. Clear-cutting forest WILL impact any populations present. Wood Turtles spend most of the spring and summer in mixed or deciduous forests, fields, and riparian wetlands. Then they return to streams in late summer or early fall to their favored overwintering location.

4) Further Degrades our Ecosystem: Removing that much forest and destroying that much open space will further contribute to our air pollution problems. This is a huge area of undeveloped habitat which links with other forested properties designed to protect our environment. The removal of forests and their replacement with pavement and rooftops results in the “heat –island” effect where heat is trapped by blacktop and radiated out, intensifying air pollution.

5) Guts Ability to Pursue our Comprehensive Plan: This proposal contradicts what Loudoun residents have endorsed for years and worked cooperatively to establish in the Comprehensive Plan. Our Comprehensive Plan established safeguards for our environment and the Transition Area, where this property sits, was one of these. Approval of this rezoning violates that Plan in ways beyond the environmental impacts and sets the precedence for further violation.

6) Not Needed for Loudoun: Other sites in Loudoun would support a secure business park/data center, already have adequate road infrastructure to support them and are not in such sensitive environmental locations. Rezoning at this location does not fill any unmet needs. It only destroys something remarkable.

This property was zoned as low density allowing up to19 residential units with 70% open space required because this area is WIDELY RECOGNIZED for its environmental and cultural significance. We ask the Board of Supervisors to DENY the Stonewall Secure Business Park rezoning and retain the existing designation and policies for the Transition Area.


Over sixty people came out for our Butterfly Identification Class and Field Session this past Saturday. After checking in and getting copies of our newest publication, the Field Guide to the Butterflies of Loudoun County, we got right into the class session.  Photos are on our facebook page.

We started with some discussion around butterfly lifecycle and habitat preferences as the foundation and then went right into the different identification tips for 56 of the 85 species seen here in Loudoun.

After a quick break for lunch, we broke into groups for the field session and explored the wild and weedy areas around Ida Lee Park as well as the master gardener’s garden. 

This was the chance to test our skills with butterfly identification — especially on those skippers — and we definitely got our chance as the skippers were skipping all around!

In all, the groups saw approximately 25 different species and were able to get great looks at Sachem skippers in particular as they nectared on thistle.  Sachems were certainly the highest number and we saw both males and females for a nice comparison.

Here is a list of the butterflies seen: Black Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Gray Hairstreak, Eastern-tailed Blue, Summer Azure, Variegated Fritillary, Silvery Checkerspot, Pearl Crescent, American Lady. Common Buckeye, Red-spotted Purple, Common Wood Nymph, Monarch, possible Hackberry Emperor, Silver-spotted Skipper, Least Skipper, Fiery Skipper, Peck’s Skipper, Tawny-edged Skipper, Crossline Skipper, Little Glassywing, Sachem.

If you’re interested in learning more about butterflies, you can still sign up for our Annual Butterfly Count.  More details about the butterfly count can be found here.


Whoa! What do you do if you see one of these climbing up your sock?  Well, the best thing to do is put it in a safe spot and inspected it!

This is the caterpillar stage of the beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail — the big beautiful yellow butterflies with black stripes that we often see through our yards. It’s also Virginia’s state butterfly.

These caterpillars are green in the beginning but just before they get ready to pupate and turn into the chrysalis stage, they turn brown like this.

This little buddy hitched a ride on the sock of one of our nature camp kids as they were walking along a trail at Banshee Reeks.

Notice the two horns on the head.  These are not always visible but when the caterpillar feels threatened it will rise up like it’s is doing here and put out these horns.  It makes the caterpillar look FIERCE! and sends out an awful scent, all in hopes of deterring the potential threat (which most likely wants to have a nice juicy caterpillar breakfast).

So – next time you see a caterpillar like this, don’t be afraid! It’s just an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar getting ready for its butterfly debut.


The Banshee Reeks Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program is accepting applications for their annual Saturday training program that begins on September 10, 2011.

The program supports a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the management of natural resources and natural areas within communities. A nine-month course is offered for anyone interested in obtaining certification as a Virginia Master Naturalist.

The training covers topics in biogeography, botany, ecology, geology, mammalogy, herpetology, ornithology, dendrology, forest and wetlands ecology, zoology, management and conservation of ecological systems.

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, located at 21085 The Woods Road, Leesburg, VA, provides the perfect setting for the course with its education center and over 700 acres of forests, fields, ponds and streams in which to conduct field studies, advanced training and volunteer service projects.

The course is open to anyone 18 years or older. The total cost is $200, which includes all class materials. The deadline for applications is September 1, 2011. For course details and applications, visit