Arlington County Clearcuts Stream Bank to Save the Stream

Comments At Arlington County Board Meeting, January 22, 2021.

Alexandria environmental consultant Rod Simmons was shocked over recent photos depicting a tractor trailer hauling away a lot of mature trees from the denuded site of Donaldson Run Tributary B. He said:

“Holy smokes!  Is the first photo below that of the section of Donaldson Run in an Arlington County, Virginia forested park that meanders through the Kelly’s property?  If so, compare with the attached, non-clearcut photo of the same property.

“Again – soil sampling independently collected along the Donaldson Run Tributary B reveals that Virginia and Arlington County taxpayers have greatly overfunded the Donaldson Run project hundreds of thousands of dollars based on bogus, highly inflated calculations based on the Pennsylvania default metric that bear no semblance to actual phosphorus (P) levels. 

“This is a big deal.  It is tantamount to government fiscal mismanagement and ballpark fraudulent actions – especially when the project was vigorously defended by Stormwater Management despite knowing full well that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing stream construction projects throughout the Commonwealth, no longer allows default calculations for phosphorus to be used in pollution reduction crediting since late 2019.  Since then, Virginia requires all stream construction projects to use sediment and phosphorus calculations based on actual [emphasis added] soil samples collected instream locally. . .

“Why didn’t Arlington County take actual soil samples from the stream banks of Donaldson Run, [according to VDEQ’s improved protocols], despite being provided in advance the results of professional, independent sampling showing abysmally low actual phosphorus and nitrogen levels from the saprolite soils of the stream banks?”

The answer? Since the County was determined to clearcut the area around Tributary B, it didn’t want to be bothered with facts indicating that it wasn’t necessary.

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