Thank you so much to the great crew at Virginia Eagle Distributing Company, the Shenandoah…
On Wednesday, August 24, with a proposal in-hand for construction of a large, overnight truck stop/wash/repair center, the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors will be voting on whether or not to rezone 31-acres of Agricultural land to Business Interchange zoning. Public comments will be heard prior to the vote.
With substantial concerns, the county’s Planning Commission was split (3-2) on their vote to recommend the change. We echo their concerns with particular relevance to nearby Smith Creek, the North Fork’s largest tributary stream. The site under consideration is just 700-yards from the banks of Smith Creek, and slopes entirely to the creek.
No Ordinary Stream
Making Sure the Board is Clear About What Smith Creek is to the County and the Region
Smith Creek is one of only three designated Showcase Watersheds
in the 64,000 square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed. That designation, by the USDA over a decade ago, has brought millions of dollars to Rockingham County, supporting local landowners and a unique partnership (The Smith Creek Partnership) with dozens of agency, nonprofit, land trust, municipal and university collaborators — all to support Rockingham County landowners and agricultural operators while improving its water resources and life in its streams.
Many of the Partners are officed in Rockingham and Shenandoah Counties.
Rockingham County receives vast attention in state, federal and local private resources, specifically for Smith Creek and the landowners and operators along its banks. And Smith Creek is acknowledged as the premier of the three three Showcase Watersheds in the whole of the 6-state Bay region.
The Board and community need to take these investments in dollars, labor, jobs, and landowner/community relationships into consideration, and not unduly risk these broad-reaching benefits.
Risk Factors to Smith Creek
Without prior risk analysis, opening this parcel to such drastic changes in land use and water cycling could compromise Smith Creek, the community-wide investments in its health, and the quality of waters downstream in Shenandoah County and beyond.
Stormwater: One inch of rain on these 31+ acres nets over 850,000 gallons of stormwater.
Winter Salts: Harsh to freshwater life (fish, etc.) de-icing pavement generates salt runoff.
Water Quantity: Drawing high volumes from Karst aquifers without testing for sustainability of the intended use could lead to reduced flow in Smith Creek and add to problems with fish health and algal growth.
Harmful Sediments: Smith Creek is already on Virginia’s list of ‘Impaired Waters’ due to bacteria and sediment loads.
“The goal of the [Showcase Watershed] project is to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment contributions from soil erosion, overapplication of nutrients…” and more.
RockCo: Demonstrating for 18-Million Residents of the Bay Watershed
The three Showcase Watersheds were set up to invest in demonstrating how communities and collaborating partners like the Smith Creek Partnership (learn about them Here) ensure the success of landowners and agricultural operators while working together to improve local water quality and the life in our streams, rivers, and the Bay.
Because of this, the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors is in a unique position — among 1800 local governments within the 206 counties of the Chesapeake Bay watershed — and it must understand how its decision is tied to twelve years of investment in its landowners, lands, and waters. They can only make an informed decision about rezoning by knowing first what they might put at risk among their current investments.
Just this summer, the Smith Creek Partnership brought in another $1-Million grant to work with Smith Creek landowners to continue building on clean water improvements for the County and the region.
What You Can Do
Friends is reaching out to each of the Rockingham County Supervisors to ensure that they are fully aware of concerns for Smith Creek, locally and nationally, and what may be at stake.
We encourage you to have your voice heard by the County as well.
Reach the Rockingham County Supervisors here. Let them know your concerns for Smith Creek, the North Fork, and the investments and County interests at stake.
Join us at the Public Hearing (here – the Agenda should post by this Friday).
Thank you, all, for your support and care for our shared river and water resources.