Environment and Outdoors

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A panel of Virginia regulators wants to hear from the public about whether they believe the water quality approvals granted for two natural gas pipelines are adequate to protect the state’s waterways. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the State Water Control Board on Thursday approved a 30-day period to solicit comment on the approvals granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. Critics have argued the corps’ review process was overly broad and that the Department of Environmental Quality should have done a stream-by-stream study. The department has said the review it did undertake, combined with the corps’ work, will be adequately protective. Asked how the public can weigh in and what will happen at the end of the comment period, DEQ spokeswoman Ann Regn told The Associated Press Friday that additional information will be available “in the near future.”

Red Terry – the woman who has been living in a tree stand on her family’s Bent Mountain property for two weeks while Mountain Valley Pipeline crews fell trees for the natural gas pipeline all around her – told WFIR this afternoon that a rescue worker indicated they won’t let her go without basic necessities. Terry says she will be in the tree at least through the weekend. “Red” is in violation of the law since Mountain Valley Pipeline seized a swath of land via eminent domain. She says a group of friends and supporters are on hand – along with law enforcement agencies and MVP crews – and some supporters have camped overnight on her property.

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – The bald eagle population along Virginia’s James River made a stunning comeback after falling to zero in the 1970s.
Scientists now wonder if the James has reached “peak eagle.”
William & Mary said in a press release Wednesday that the population has plateaued. Two university biologists are now looking out for signs of natural population decline.
Bald eagles live up to 30 years. They’re extremely territorial and generally mate for life. So, more and more eagles are competing for limited space.
Biologists survey the river by airplane each spring. In late April, they’ll count hatched chicks along the river.
The birds’ recovery can be traced to the federal government’s ban of the pesticide DDT in 1972. Eagles were also given endangered status under the Endangered Species Act in 1967.

Roanoke County Police were called again to the Bent Mountain area, where a dozen or more protestors were present where trees are being cut down for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Police say everyone was civil and report no arrests. Officials say when some tree sitters were asked to come down, they refused, but police made no efforts to remove them.

From Roanoke County Police: Roanoke County Police have been in Bent Mountain today. There were approximately 12-15 individuals present in opposition of pipeline activities. Officers described all individuals as civil, with no threats made or serious issues. Tree clearing crews were present to conduct their permitted construction activities and police ensured safety for all parties present. Police asked individuals sitting in trees to come down and they refused. No attempt was made by police to extract the individuals from the trees. Officers remained nearby to ensure the individuals were not harmed during tree felling in close proximity.

Police are, and will continue to be, in the community to ensure safety and enforce the law. Police are working with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to enforce any court orders and violations of law. They are not there to interpret decisions made by FERC in regards to construction activities or deadlines.

From Press Release: In response to weather forecasts for Thursday, April 12, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) urges people to help prevent wildfires by postponing open-air fires until conditions improve. The combination of strong winds, increased temperatures and low humidity will create extremely dangerous fire weather conditions Thursday.

Fire Weather Watches have already been posted by the National Weather Service (NWS) covering northern and western Virginia for Thursday afternoon. Temperatures are expected to rise to the mid to upper 70s during the afternoon hours.  A low pressure system bringing gusty winds of 30 to 40 mph with higher gusts, relative humidity values of 20 to 30 percent and low fuel moistures will combine to create an environment conducive to the rapid spread of wildfires. Any fires that develop could quickly burn out of control.

“Firefighter and citizen safety is our most important consideration and we base all recommendations and actions with that in mind,” says John Miller, VDOF director of fire and emergency response. “The VDOF has elevated its ability to respond as needed and reached out to other cooperators to make sure all wildfire emergency responders are aware of the increased dangers and will plan accordingly.”

Forestry officials urge everyone to delay all outdoor burning scheduled for Thursday, as wildfire dangers remain critical. This recommendation will be reevaluated for Friday and Saturday based on conditions forecasted for that period.

“We urge all citizens to postpone any burning until conditions improve,” stresses Fred Turck, VDOF wildfire prevention program manager. “Virginia’s 4 p.m. law is still in effect, making it illegal to have an open-air fire before 4 p.m. within 300 feet of the woods or dry grass leading to the woods.”


The Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians.  Headquartered in Charlottesville, the Agency has forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide citizen service and public safety protection across the Commonwealth, which it’s been doing now for more than 100 years.  VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.

With nearly 16 million acres of forestland and more than 108,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide an overall economic output of more than $21 Billion annually.

While fundraising continues at Mill Mountain Zoo for a North American River Otter exhibit with underwater viewing, Co-director Bill Baker says a bald eagle exhibit should be up before that:

The exhibit should open once that Bald Eagle clears quarantine in a week or two. Those exhibits – along with an exhibit on Black Bears that’s in the works – are part of the Zoo’s efforts to feature animals native to Virginia.

A Roanoke County spokesperson says officials with Mountain Valley Pipeline called dispatch about 8:45 a.m. today because of people blocking a private road in the Poor Mountain area, apparently due to tree cutting activity by MVP. Roanoke County police responded and had a discussion with the protestors – and they agreed to disperse. No charges were placed.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has given its blessing to a citizen watchdog group called “Mountain Valley Watch”, which is currently on Poor Mountain – keeping an eye on crews clearing trees for the gas pipeline. The DEQ plans to do some training with Mountain Valley Watch, and met with members of the group yesterday. Jenny Chapman and Mary Beth Coffey are with Mountain Valley Watch: