July 4, 2006
I thought I was going on an Augusta Bird Club field trip on Saturday, but it turned out to be scheduled for Sunday. To my surprise, that field trip was covered by David Royer for the Staunton News Leader, with a photo of Allen Larner and Peter Van Acker.
That article also makes note of a looming development controversy, of which I was only vaguely aware. The city of Staunton plans, some day, to build a new connector road that would slice right through the Bell's Lane area. Even though the landscape is rural, it lies entirely within the city limits. The landowners in that area benefit from special conservation tax breaks, which I think are an appropriate policy tool. Such a road would seriously disrupt, if not destroy one of this area's premier natural habitats. I know of no other place where Barred owls and Northern harriers are routinely seen in the winter, and Yellow warblers and Willow flycatchers are routinely seen in the summer. There are several large areas around Staunton that are suitable for industrial development, some of which are nearly vacant at present. As with the controversy over the proposed "mega-site" in Weyer's Cave, this proposal seems to indicate a glaring lack of awareness on the part of government officials of the public value of the land in question. Bell's Lane is one of the truly special parts of Staunton, and it must be conserved.