Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Ignoring Wetlands?

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Ignoring Wetlands?

The following letter was sent to Tucker Smith, Chief, Northern Virginia Regulatory Section, Regulatory Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District.

What is of great alarm to the many of us concerned with Alexandria's deliberately underhanded schemes for getting this Metro station built, not the least of which are their erroneous wetlands "assessments and delineations," is why haven't the federal and state regulatory agencies done their jobs, stepped in, and corrected this situation for the good of the whole community and the environment? Frankly, this whole PYMS [Potomac Yard Metro Station] permitting process is beginning to seem conspiratorial.

In a letter sent June 28, 2018 to the USACE [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] and other regulatory agencies regarding the siting of the Potomac Yard Metro Station Alternative B staging area atop wetlands, the nature and status of the wetlands as irreplaceable, ancient tidal channel wetlands actively and contiguously connected to the tidal Potomac River was discussed:

"The wetlands Alexandria wishes to destroy are situated at the Alexandria-owned Potomac Greens Park and adjoining National Park Service land. These wetlands are functioning remnants of ancient freshwater tidal marsh and bottomland wetlands that occur along both sides of the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) between Potomac Yard and Daingerfield Island. They remain connected to the tidal channel and Potomac River by large conduits below the GWMP, much the same as at Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary opposite Gravelly Point to the north ... The wetlands and the diverse wildlife they support should be respected and preserved, not destroyed. They are also highly functioning features for maintaining water quality and biodiversity in the region."

Lots of folks know of these increasingly endangered federal and state tidal channel wetlands, and have for centuries now (if a multitude of historic maps, aerial photos, and literature are considered). NPS certainly knows of the active tidal channel on the west side of the GWMP because they were the ones to maintain and protect active tidal flow to them when the parkway was constructed atop the north and south ends of the tidal channel in 1929-1932. Yet, and not surprisingly, the city's Joint Permit Application to destroy the wetlands made no note of the presence of freshwater tidal wetlands at the Alternative B site. The city officially terms them all "non-tidal."

Why are the regulatory agencies allowing the city, with federal and state regulatory agencies copied on public communications, to continually perpetuate deliberate falsehoods and dishonest claims regarding the wetland impacts of proposed Alternative B? Knowingly propagating false information of this significance becomes a case of taxpayer fraud — a very serious issue in its own right.

C. Dara