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Chesapeake Bay Foundation fears proposed development will threaten ecosystem

Posted on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 9:23 am

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fones cliffThe Chesapeake Bay Foundation invited the media to view the site of the proposed Fones Cliffs development and to voice concerns about its possible environmental impact.

The four-mile stretch of land along the Rappahannock River is virtually untouched by human hand making it a desirable habitat for bald eagles, King Fisher birds, and a variety of aquaculture.

“The state highway system left this place alone… This is the nursery of the river,” said Friends of the Rappahannock’s Tidal River Steward, Richard Moncure.

One of the foundation’s primary concerns is the bald eagle population. 40 years ago, the American bald eagle was on the brink of extinction. Today, the population is thriving. However, Senior Educator for the Bay Bill Portlock said the population’s biggest remaining threat is habitat destruction; something that could become an issue during construction of a new development and thereafter.

Currently, Portlock reports that there are nine eagle’s nests on at the cliffs and says he counted as many as 111 individual eagles on site this past summer.

“This area has the remoteness and tall super-canopy trees that provide high perches for the eagles to see their food sources both in the river and in the fields,” Portman said.

Hampton Roads Senior Scientist Chris Moore noted that in addition to the eagles, other bird population that feed on insects would be threatened by tree removal.

Groundwater runoff and erosion are among the foundation’s other concerns.  The cliffs are made up of very loose sediment said Portlock adding that although he has only observed erosion periodically, as many as 15 to 20 feet of soil may slide after big rain events.

The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act requires all new structures to include a 100-foot buffer area from the waterline. However, Moore notes that the cliffs rise on a steep incline, making the 100-foot measurement an inadequate buffer for this particular location…

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