None of the other green areas within the park provide suitable habitat for wildlife or comparable nature experiences for residents. Additionally, the shortage of comparable habitat conditions and the rapidly vanishing canopy coverage in the surrounding area make this site especially important. Time and again, Prince William resident surveys show that nature trails and green open spaces are a priority for local communities. Yet Prince William remains the only Northern Virginia County without county nature centers. As the primary steward of Prince William's green open space, the Park Authority should be seeking opportunities to increase - not decrease - undisturbed, natural areas for hiking and other nature explorations.
The proposed driving range site's proximity to the Occoquan Reservoir is of special concern. Although about 172,000 Prince William residents (80% of Prince William public water users) depend on the Occoquan Reservoir for their drinking water, an evaluation that considers the conservation values of this wooded site is noticeably absent. The proposed plan would replace a minimum of 3.5 acres of woods with compacted soils and grass in an environmentally sensitive location. The resulting increases in erosion, stormwater and pollutants would require constructed fixes to offset these impacts, funded by taxpayer dollars.
Government efforts that protect Prince William's visual beauty, natural resources and drinking water supply are needed. Construction of a driving range at this site along the Occoquan Reservoir would set a poor precedent for stewardship of public lands by local government entities.
- Kim Hosen, Executive Director