Archive for July, 2015

FullSizeRenderThose of us fortunate enough to know Liam McGranaghan, know him as a conservationist, educator, falconer and astute naturalist, and friend. In addition to inspiring and motivating students to learn about their natural surroundings, Liam has given generously of his time and expertise to many organizations, especially Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.

Liam’s programs, articles, photographs and memorable walks are appreciated by many and for good reason. His enthusiasm for the natural world is captivating and engaging. His ability to see what many miss (I’ve personally witnessed Liam reaching under a rock in a stream and pulling out a frog no one could possible know was there!), tell a good story and impart knowledge with humor encourage others to cherish and protect the natural world as he does.

Liam, a true educator and mentor, has inspired many of us to seek knowledge about the natural world and to find more time on trails – and to individually as well as collectively make a difference in protecting, creating and enhancing our natural places.

So, with great pride and tremendous respect, we are thrilled to announce Liam McGranaghan’s selection as a finalist for the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. This award is presented by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning.

Liam’s teaching methods take students from the classroom to trails and streams where they can develop a personal connection with the natural world. Be on the lookout for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy walks and talks by Liam, as well as photographs and articles by Liam featured in the Habitat Herald and join us in ‘raven’ about Liam!

Read the full article from the Washington Post here.

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The 18 people on the regular monthly walk at the Blue Ridge Center in the northwestern park of Loudoun County managed to tally 41 species on Saturday. The highlights of the walk on the Farmstead Loop were two very vocal Broad-winged Hawks who were also seen in the heavy forest along Piney Run. Also of interest were what appeared to be several family units including a fledgling crow begging for food and several orioles and very low warbler diversity. And like many high-summer walks some of the most int’g sightings were not birds; in today’s case it was a live & healthy Luna Moth, a Monarch Butterfly laying eggs, and several other butterflies.

Also, don’t forget that next Saturday is Loudoun Wildlife’s annual butterfly count and the Blue Ridge Center is one of several locations that will be visited that day in the county. Beginners and experienced butterfliers are welcome for all or part of the day.

For a complete list of the birds see the eBird list below.

Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at http://www.blueridgecenter.org.  Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and its many free activities can be found at www.loudounwildlife.org.

Joe Coleman

Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship – MFF01, Loudoun, Virginia, US Jul 25, 2015 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Protocol: Traveling

1.5 mile(s)

44 species

 

Green Heron  2

Black Vulture  2

Turkey Vulture  2

Red-shouldered Hawk  1

Broad-winged Hawk  2

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  21

Yellow-billed Cuckoo  4

Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1

Red-bellied Woodpecker  2

Downy Woodpecker  4

Pileated Woodpecker  1

Eastern Wood-Pewee  4

Acadian Flycatcher  7

Eastern Phoebe  1

Great Crested Flycatcher  1

White-eyed Vireo  1

Red-eyed Vireo  5

American Crow  8

Common Raven  1

Tree Swallow  4

Barn Swallow  2

Carolina Chickadee  10

Tufted Titmouse  10

White-breasted Nuthatch  1

House Wren  4

Carolina Wren  4

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  10

Eastern Bluebird  8

Gray Catbird  2

Brown Thrasher  2

Northern Mockingbird  1

European Starling  1

Cedar Waxwing  6

Common Yellowthroat  6

Eastern Towhee  1

Chipping Sparrow  3

Field Sparrow  4

Scarlet Tanager  4

Northern Cardinal  1

Blue Grosbeak  1

Indigo Bunting  5

Orchard Oriole  3

Baltimore Oriole  2

American Goldfinch  10

 

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Loudoun-flooding-aerialThe Loudoun County Planning Commission is reviewing a proposal to weaken protections for floodplains, the buffers before our streams which protect our water from pollution and help protect us from flooding.

 

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has written the following letter to the Planning Commission.   Please join us in speaking up for floodplain protections!  You can email the Planning Commission, or speak at their public hearing scheduled for Tuesday July 21, 6 pm at the Loudoun County Government Center.  (Email contact information in the letter below, and at http://www.loudoun.gov/pc.  Public meeting information at http://loudoun.gov/Calendar.aspx.)

 

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy also plans to join the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition in speaking up for floodplain protections to the Board of Supervisors – especially in preparation for the Supervisors’ scheduled October 14, 2015 public hearing on this issue.

 

Additional details about the proposal can be found on the Loudoun Preservation and Conservation Coalition website, and also in county documentation prepared for the July 21 Planning Commission meeting.

 

Photo: Virginia State Police image: Loudoun flooding in 2012.

 

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Please Reject Proposals to Weaken Floodplain Rules

To:               Jeff.Salmon@loudoun.gov

Kathy.Blackburn@loudoun.gov

Robert.Klancher@loudoun.gov

Kevin.Ruedisueli@loudoun.gov

Charles.Douglas@loudoun.gov

Jack.Ryan@loudoun.gov

Eugene.Scheel@loudoun.gov

Tom.Dunn@loudoun.gov

Helena.Syska@loudoun.gov

Dear Planning Commission Members:

I write to you on behalf of the 1,000-member Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, to ask that you say ‘NO’ to proposed zoning rule changes whose purposes include:

  • Allowing more uses in floodplains, such as new storm water management facilities, parking areas, outdoor storage, and swimming pools.
  • Relocating natural stream channels.
  • Allowing specific changes through the Minor Special Exception process, which would reduce opportunities for citizen input.

County professional staff have identified numerous ways in which the proposed zoning rule changes could introduce contaminants into our water supply, and increase flash flood threats to life and property.

Throughout our 20-year history, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has stressed the important role of floodplains in mitigating downstream flooding, protecting surface water quality, and providing critical wildlife habitat.  We have emphasized that the cumulative effect of floodplain construction increases the volume and velocity of flood flows, and the rate of stream bank erosion.

We ask that you promote Loudoun County citizens’ health and safety, and our environmental quality, by rejecting proposed floodplain rule changes that are apparently designed to benefit a small number of individuals at the expense of the larger community.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Alysoun Mahoney

Conservation Advocacy Chair

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

www.loudounwildlife.org

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15-DSC_0130The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is in process of reviewing proposals that would threaten steep slopes and floodplains.  Protections for these critical natural resources have been in place for many years under the Revised General Plan that was adopted by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors with extensive citizen involvement.

 

The first proposal, which would open up fragile steep slope land for new uses, will be put to a vote of the Board of Supervisors Transportation and Land Use Committee in their Friday, July 17, 9 am meeting.

 

Additional details about the proposal can be found in documentation prepared for this meeting at loudoun.gov, and also on the website of the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition of which Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is a member.

 

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has written the following letter to the Board of Supervisors, and we urge our members and friends to share their views with their elected County representatives as well.

 

Contact information for the Supervisors can be found here: http://loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=86, and public meeting information can be found at http://loudoun.gov/Calendar.aspx.

 

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To:       Suzanne.Volpe@loudoun.gov, Eugene.Delgaudio@loudoun.gov, Janet.Clarke@loudoun.gov,

Geary.Higgins@loudoun.gov, Scott.York@loudoun.gov

 

Dear Board of Supervisors Transportation and Land Use Committee Members – Supervisor Volpe (Committee Chair), Supervisor Clarke, Supervisor Delgaudio, Supervisor Higgins, and Supervisor York:

 

I write to you on behalf of the 1,000-member Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, to ask that you reject proposed zoning changes in ZOAM 2014-0004 whose purpose is to allow more uses in steep slope areas.

 

First, the proposed changes would violate the Revised General Plan that was adopted by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors with extensive citizen involvement, which states in Chapter 5 that the County will “prohibit land disturbance on slopes with a grade of more than 25 percent,” and that “special performance standards are to be used to protect slopes with grades from 15 to 25 percent.”

 

Second, the proposed changes threaten Loudoun County’s environment. As stated in the Revised General Plan, “steep slopes protected as part of a river and stream corridor or mountainside often serve as forested and vegetative areas that filter stormwater run-off and support various plant and wildlife habitats….Development on steep slopes often requires high volumes of clearing and ‘cut and fill.’ Such earth moving is subject to erosion and sedimentation that causes adverse effects on surface water quality and aquatic habitat.”

 

Third, we are concerned that the proposed changes would benefit a small number of individuals – for example, those seeking to build hillside residences – at the risk of general public health and safety. As stated in the Revised General Plan, “if improperly used and disturbance occurs, these areas could experience erosion, building and/or road failure, downstream flooding, and other hazards.”

 

Fourth, we have reason to believe that although the goal of the proposed changes is to be more ‘business friendly’, in fact the reverse will occur:  new development on steep slopes would have adverse impact on Loudoun County’s rural economy and tourism.

 

Finally, the proposal includes allowing changes to development standards through the Minor Special Exception process, which would reduce opportunities for citizen input.

 

Please work to keep Loudoun County beautiful, and to keep all our citizens safe and prosperous, by rejecting zoning changes that would allow more uses in steep slope areas.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

Alysoun Mahoney

Conservation Advocacy Chair

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

www.loudounwildlife.org

 

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bluebirds Efforts are underway in the U.S. Congress to prevent the enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

 

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) advises that “the Senate may soon consider a rider in the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill to bar the Department of Justice from enforcing the MBTA, which protects over 1,000 species of migratory birds.”

 

Furthermore, in the House, Rep. Jeff Duncan is trying to add to the Interior Appropriation Bill an amendment that would prevent the enforcement of laws protecting Bald and Golden Eagles, as well as the laws protecting migratory birds.

 

SEO_Liam_McGranaghan2a-150x150Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is joining ABC and conservation organizations across the nation in cosigning a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking that they maintain all existing protections for migratory birds.

 

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy also invites individual members to send the same request to Virginia’s U.S. Senators.  You can easily do this by going to support.abcbirds.org/ProtectMBTA and personalizing and sending a letter prepared by ABC.  Alternatively, you can deliver your message directly by calling or writing the offices of Senator Mark Warner and Senator Tim Kaine.  Contact information can be found at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=VA.

 

As always, thank you for your efforts to protect Loudoun’s wildlife.

 

Photo credits: Bluebirds, by Nicole Hamilton.  Short-eared Owl, by Liam McGranaghan.  These are just two of more than 1,000 species currently protected under the MBTA.

 

 

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