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In late October, clear-cutting began along 1300-feet of the banks of Happy Creek in Front Royal, the first tributary stream to the mainstem of the Shenandoah as it flows past Riverton, VA. This caught the immediate attention of several valley-based conservation organizations and a broad group of concerned citizens. From this attention the Save Happy Creek coalition was formed.
The group alerted Warren County who then issued a Stop Order of the project. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) then walked the site for a full project review, and cited 30 infractions and violations. The coalition followed with more than half a dozen presentations to a highly receptive Front Royal Town Council, who then proposed an overall project review before any additional substantive work would continue.
Friends and our coalition colleagues will remain involved in advising the revision of the site plan. In the meantime, you can read more about the unfolding of events here. And you can watch Friends’ Executive Director, Dave Brotman, deliver his presentation to the Town Council (starting at 35:50) here. Many of our coalition partners presented as well (The Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Shenandoah Riverkeeper, and Front Royal Warren County Tree Stewards among them), and they can be seen in this same video. It was an impressive range of information, insights, and deeply felt concerns.
The Royal Examiner too has published several articles tracking these developments. You can click here to view their archives.
Projects like this, especially when public waterways and public lands are involved, require public involvement, even in the planning stages. Without that, projects more easily move in directions that may go against the greater public will, sound environmental practices, and/or broader planning interests. We are all raised with the expectation of a democratic process, and we all have a stake in it. We’ll do our part to help you keep informed about developments along Happy Creek, and the resolutions that come from this.