Updated June 1 — This update reflects a comment from Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik.
After upcoming restoration projects sparked concerns from residents in a Tysons neighborhood, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is trying to minimize potential damage to local flora and fauna.
Some Westwood Village community members are worried that the project is distrustful to established trees and nesting wildlife in the area some have dubbed “Tysons Last Forest,” according to Jack Russell, who has been active in speaking out against the projects.
“The citizens have done a good job getting my attention,” Alcorn told Tysons Reporter, adding that he first became aware of the issues with the restoration projects after he heard feedback similar to what Russell has heard.
Contested projects include the Old Courthouse Spring Branch at Gosnell Road stream restoration project, which runs loosely along Route 7 and is currently under construction to restore roughly half a mile of the natural stream channel. Other projects include the installation of a new bike bath to the Metro, replacement of old sewage lines and a project to decommission an old stormwater pond, according to Alcorn.
Though Russell said he understands the need for watershed restoration projects since erosion is threatening certain area homes, he thinks the ecosystem should be at the forefront of peoples’ minds.
Russell and his wife Susan submitted a letter to Alcorn and Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik in late April, hoping to get their attention.
“I am greatly dismayed by what I see in the forest today. Various Fairfax County projects are leading to massive tree loss and deforestation,” Russell wrote. “The forest is under siege. Wildlife habitat is being decimated.”
Supervisor Palchik never replied or even acknowledged the letter, according to Russell, but Palchik told Tysons Reporter that the area is out of her geographic jurisdiction.
Alcorn, who does have jurisdiction over the area, spent several hours with Russell visiting the forest to get a better understanding of the area.
“The fact he came out on short notice and spent two and a half hours shows sensitivity to the environment and great leadership,” Russell said, adding that the two trekked through “pure mud and muck” built up from several rainy days leading up to the meeting.
“It was very helpful to see the sites and the trees and understand their concerns,” according to Alcorn.
Though Alcorn sees the community concern, he said that these projects are essential to the overall health of the area’s watersheds and have already gone through the necessary procedures clearing them for construction.
Despite the community petitions, “none of this is coming to the Board of Supervisors,” Alcorn said.
Instead, Alcorn said he will help facilitate communication and find a way for the projects to move forward with more attention to environmental welfare for the local plants and animals.
“I’m trying to use my influence to suspend the project to identify where there can be better coordination with these projects as they go forward,” Alcorn said.
Already, Russell said his own coordination efforts have saved a “significant” number of trees. He is currently coordinating walkthroughs and teleconference with planners for phase two of the project — to minimize unnecessary destruction.
Photo courtesy Jack Russell
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