Letter: Bryan Henson, Sterling

Editor: The Board of Supervisors plans to vote shortly on the Parks, Recreation and Community Services zoning request for Bles Park. This is alarming because their plans showed a lack of consideration for nature and natural spaces. Please ask your supervisor and Juli Briskman, the supervisor for Algonkian District where Bles is located, to vote against the approval of the zoning changes and send it back to the planning commission for changes until it gets planned right.

The current plan has several flaws—in fact, so many flaws that the planning commission recommended to not approve the zoning change even after several parts of the plan were changed for the better.

Bles is the best spot in Loudoun for dragonflies without a doubt. It contains a secluded natural space that appeals to birds and humans alike with a great variety of aquatic habitats—a marsh, Broad Run, the Potomac River and a pond. Ask the residents of Arlington or Fairfax if they would have liked to have more natural spaces closer to home and I’m sure they would answer a resounding yes, so please protect our spaces in Loudoun now.

PRCS’s plan includes several ideas that maybe sound great at first glance, but important nuance makes their plan a poor plan. First and foremost among the plan’s problems is to add a boardwalk along the marsh. I love boardwalks, but this boardwalk would expose all the most secluded parts of the marsh. This will drive away lots of wildlife. Yes, there will still be birds even if they install the boardwalk—you’ll see mallards and Canada geese, but you’ll no longer see the reclusive marsh wren, American bittern, common gallinule or wood ducks. A great alternative has been recommended—an observation tower.

Another part of the plan is to put in an unprogrammed lawn near the pond which is heavily used by wildlife to provide a space for people to picnic and play. While that sounds nice in the abstract, it will remove trees and shrubs that currently help absorb runoff and harbor beautiful breeding birds like the spectacular prairie warbler (google it, I’ll wait). It is lightly used by people because the path to it is often flooded and it is deep into the park, the sort of place that isn’t easy for people to take their picnic basket for a nice outdoor afternoon.

These are just a couple of reasons the Planning Commission and concerned residents are opposed to this change. This is also why the county needs to hire someone with wildlife biology and natural systems expertise to help steward the environmental and wildlife needs in the county. Without that influence, we get these plans that are better suited to urban areas, not the natural beauty of Loudoun. 

This Bles park plan doesn’t match the comprehensive plan or what should be done in a floodplain or what should be done for wildlife. Why would it possibly be approved?

Bryan Henson, Sterling

2 thoughts on “Letter: Bryan Henson, Sterling

  • 2022-01-11 at 9:30 am

    Bles Park is magnificent, as is. Here’s a quote from Charles Lindbergh that captures the importance of wilderness preservation: “In wilderness, there is a lens to the past, to the present and to the future — offered to us for the looking. By comparison, our own accomplishments are trivial.” Please Leave Bles Park Alone! Happy New Year Loudoun!

  • 2022-01-11 at 2:10 pm

    Attend the Rally outside the Government Center January 18, 2022 at 4:00pm and give Bles Park Wildlife a voice! This is our last opportunity to show the BOS that we want to Protect the Wildlife at Bles Park.

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