Category Archives: STATEMENT

ANS Testifies on Proposed Beltway Expansion

ANS TESTIMONY TO MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION (MDOT SHA)

Audubon Naturalist Society’s testimony to Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on the I-495/I-270 Managed Lanes Study Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement.1 

Denisse Guitarra
Maryland Conservation Advocate, Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) 

November 1, 2021

Dear MDOT SHA and FHWA,  

For 124 years, the Audubon Naturalist Society has inspired people to enjoy, learn about and protect nature. ANS demands that last year’s DEIS “No Build” option still remains as the preferred alternative, as the SDEIS still lacks complete studies on environmental justice, climate change, wildlife, and waterways impact, and fails to include transit alternatives. The Managed Lanes highway expansion project pushes far beyond the climate constraints people and the environment are currently experiencing today. The United Nations IPCC report2 released earlier this year makes it clear – we have no time left to get ourselves off of fossil fuels and save as much of our planet as possible.  Maryland and Virginia need a more equitable, transit, and climate-friendly solution to solve our traffic congestion problems. We need excellent transit and not an inch more of car-coddling pavement. ANS demands that MDOT SHA and FHWA do not move forward with the project’s “Preferred Alternative” option.  

The preferred alternative would negatively impact people’s lives and wellbeing. On Chapter 4 of the SDEIS, it mentions that 501 properties would be impacted by the project, the majority of these being residential properties.3  Even more alarming, the SDEIS does not provide details on how communities, especially POC communities, would be impacted by the new bottlenecks on I-270 beyond its intersection with I-370. Equally disturbing, the SDEIS fails to include a complete study of the overall cumulative impacts the project will have on people. Under our four concurrent public health, climate, economic, and social crises, it does not make sense to add more air-polluting lanes. 

Moreover, the preferred alternative listed in the SDEIS does not properly mitigate the negative impacts the highway expansion project will have on air, water, wildlife, and people. The SDEIS, like its predecessor the DEIS, fails to properly account for and provide any solutions and dangerously underestimates the devastating impacts the project will have on people and the environment. The SDEIS fails to consider the mitigation of 1,000,000 sq ft of floodplains and over 186,000 sq ft of wetlands.4 Lacking these critical pieces of information, when climate change is already causing major flooding issues in the region, is completely irresponsible of MDOT SHA and FHWA. In terms of water quality, the SDEIS’s preferred alternative will reduce Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties capacity to reduce and meet its Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals. Furthermore, the project will impact 500 acres of forests and 26 acres of Parkland.5 In terms of rare, threatened, and endangered (RTE) species, 41 species are in peril due to the project.6 The irreplaceable destruction the “Preferred Alternative” is expected to have on the environment is so extensive that no built infrastructure could ever replace the natural infrastructure this project would take down, placing  Maryland and Virginia at a higher climate catastrophe risk for the next 50 years.   

ANS and our partners recommend that MDOT SHA and FHWA do not approve the SDEIS’s “Preferred alternative” due to its incomplete, faulty, and deceiving information and instead opt for the “no build alternative” option listed in the DEIS. On behalf of ANS and our 28,000 members and supporters, ANS respectfully requests that MDOT SHA and FHWA to act responsibly and not move forward with the SDEIS’s Managed Lanes Preferred alternative today. 

 

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Follow ANS at: www.Facebook.com/AudubonNaturalistSociety,  www.Twitter.com/ANStweet 
and @ANSNature on Instagram.

 About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has championed nature for all by playing a pivotal role in conserving our region's iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS's nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

Map of the proposed expansion of I-495 and I-270

ANS Statement on Amazon

STATEMENT

More flushes and showers on the way with Amazon HQ2

Audubon Naturalist Society issues statement warning of the need
for planning to protect human and environmental health

For Immediate Release: November 15, 2018
For more information, contact Caroline Brewer at caroline.brewer@anshome.org, Lisa Alexander at lisa.alexander@anshome.org, or Eliza Cava, eliza.cava@anshome.org, or 202-503-9141, cell, or 301-652-9188 x22, office.

CHEVY CHASE, MD – In response to Amazon’s announcement this week that it would bring half of its second headquarters (“HQ2”) to the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) Executive Director Lisa Alexander issued the following statement.

“As we all settle in to review and analyze the details surrounding HQ2, ANS will be looking closely for the potential impacts to environmental and human health. One thing we know for sure is, more flushes and showers are on the way, and that could be a serious matter.”

Alexander noted that even before all the details are known, ANS is urging area leaders, planners, and voters to start seeking answers to the following questions:

  • What will the environmental and community impacts be in Crystal City? How will we ensure that the redeveloped buildings will be bird-safe and use best environmental practices, including green infrastructure to capture polluted runoff from rainstorms? How will Amazon work to grow and enhance tree canopy and green space in and around Crystal City and make it available and accessible to all?
  • What will the environmental and community impacts be in the greater DC region? While this decision will be made by one jurisdiction, it affects all three. How will area leaders ensure that enough housing is constructed close to transit to counteract the trend toward sprawl? How will area leaders ensure that housing remains affordable so that those with fewer resources are not driven out to agricultural exurbs and then forced to endure long, polluting commutes on new pavement?

Alexander concluded, “Many in our region are rightly focused on housing affordability and transit access. We need to understand that these are also environmental issues. Sprawl development threatens the quality of our drinking water, threatens wildlife habitats, and creates conditions that could lead to horrible flooding. So that’s why we need to ensure that planning is put in place immediately to ward off these dangers, and also help people at all income levels live close to jobs that pay a living wage.”

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Follow ANS at: www.Facebook.com/AudubonNaturalistSociety,  www.Twitter.com/ANStweet 
and @ANSNature on Instagram.

 About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has played a pivotal role in conserving our region's iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS's nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

Dogue Creek Development Delayed

STATEMENT

Alexandria's Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day Just Got Better!

ANS celebrates news that Fairfax County Planning Commission Received Request to Indefinitely Delay Proposed Amendment to Develop 8800 Richmond Highway from Developer Mark Viani 

For Immediate Release: October 23, 2018

Contact: Caroline Brewer, caroline.brewer@anshome.org or Monica Billger at monica.billger@anshome.org

Hearing set for Wednesday, October 24 at 7:30 now cancelled.
The commission will vote in a private meeting tomorrow on the postponement. 

Chevy Chase, MD – The Audubon Naturalist Society released the following statement after being alerted to the news that the Fairfax County Planning Commission received a request to delay the proposed amendment to develop 8800 Richmond Highway from Developer Mark Viani. 

Regardless of what the reason for indefinitely postponing the plan amendment, we know that the proposed plan was a terrible, awful, horrible idea,” says Monica Billger, ANS’s Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager. “A floodplain is a floodplain, and this site is CLEARLY a bad place to develop. We consider this a victory for the residents and property owners in the Dogue Creek area, and for all of the wildlife supported by Dogue Creek and nearby green spaces. We do not want Fairfax County to become like Houston and pave all its floodplains. We will continue to encourage the Planning Commission to deny this amendment and set the RIGHT precedent that will allow Fairfax County to stand by its thoughtful and award-winning planning processes and continue to value environmental protection for its residents and wildlife.” 

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Follow ANS at: www.Facebook.com/AudubonNaturalistSociety,  www.Twitter.com/ANStweet 
and @ANSNature on Instagram.

 About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has played a pivotal role in conserving our region's iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS's nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

Dogue Creek

ANS Testimony on Wildlife-Harming Noise

STATEMENT

ANS Testifies in Support of Bird Life,
Diversity, and Nesting
Supports Ban on Noisy, Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers

When We Drown Out Birds, We Suffer Too

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 2, 2018 

For more information, contact caroline.brewer@anshome.org or 301-652-9188 x23 or Lisa Goodnight, lglisagoodnight@gmail.com,301-523-5394

CHEVY CHASE, MD – The Audubon Naturalist Society today submitted testimony to the D.C. Council in support of a ban that would prevent the sale or use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in the District of Columbia beginning in 2022.  ANS Member and Volunteer David Cottingham presented testimony at this afternoon's hearing. Here's an excerpt of what he read into the record: 

"Recent peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown that where there is loud, human-caused noise, many bird species suffer. Struggling to hear and be heard, they are less protected from predators and less able to find mates. Their stress hormones are elevated, with poor consequences for their health and reproductive success. Scientists have documented declines in bird numbers, bird diversity and bird nesting success in environments with elevated, non-natural noises.

"When we drive out and drown out birds, we suffer, too.  It would be hard to imagine a hearing at which residents complained about too much birdsong.  In fact, some schools in Britain use recorded birdsong to enhance students’ concentration, while a children’s hospital in Liverpool uses birdsong – what the poet Shelley called 'a rain of melody'-- to reduce stress for their young patients.  If we reduce unnecessary noises like those of gas-powered leaf blowers, birds and people will share the benefits." 

The full testimony appears on the ANS conservation blog:
http://conservationblog.anshome.org/blog/ans-testimony-on-dc-noisy-leaf-blower-ban/

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About ANS: ANS is the oldest, independent environmental organization in the DMV. Throughout its history, ANS has played a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS’s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

Follow ANS at www.Facebook.com/AudubonNaturalistSociety and www.Twitter.com/ANStweets

Stormwater Pollution is Not Going Away

NEWS RELEASE

ANS Message to Montgomery County Council: Stormwater Pollution is Not Going Away

For Immediate Release: July 18, 2018
For more information, contact Caroline Brewer, caroline.brewer@anshome.org or 202-830-5115 or Eliza Cava, 301-652-9188, ext. 22, eliza.cava@anshome.org

CHEVY CHASE, MD – ANS Director of Conservation Eliza Cava issued the following statement in response to the Montgomery County Council’s vote on stormwater issues:

"Stormwater pollution is not going to go away. It is getting worse, with bigger, more intense storms an increasing fact of life due to climate change and more and more pavement and sprawl turning that rain into stormwater pollution. We must redouble our efforts to use green infrastructure to stop stormwater pollution from destroying our streams and infrastructure.

ANS will continue its long partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection to advise upon and watchguard the progress of this new contracting method, and continue to make recommendations about how to clean up our streams and watersheds for the benefit of nature and our communities.

The compromise is not perfect but it allowed the Council to pass a special appropriation, which was needed to get work moving again on these critical environmental projects. We're pleased that it includes commitments to green infrastructure and Low Impact Development projects that use lessons of nature to manage stormwater and heal our streams.

ANS thanks the Councilmembers who worked hard to make this special appropriation happen."

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About ANS: ANS is the oldest, independent environmental organization in the DMV. Throughout its history, ANS has played a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS’s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

Follow ANS at www.Facebook.com/AudubonNaturalistSociety and www.Twitter.com/ANStweets

White House Budget Proposal

STATEMENT

Statement on Trump's Budget and the Problems It Will Create for the DC Metro Region

"President Trump has shown a complete disregard for the fundamental American values..."

For Immediate Release: February 13, 2018
For more information, contact Caroline Brewer, caroline.brewer@anshome.org or 202-830-5115

In response to President Trump’s budget proposal, ANS Executive Director Lisa Alexander issued the following the statement:

“We’re appalled. President Trump has shown a complete disregard for the fundamental American values of conserving clean air, clean water, and green spaces. As we witnessed, once again, during our visits to Capitol Hill just last week, conservation is not a red state issue or a blue state issue. It’s a core American value. He might be finished, but we’re not. We’re going to keep fighting for the Chesapeake Bay Program, which is an economic driver for this region, as are so many of the other programs that are affected by this poorly imagined budget.” 

Examples of how Trump’s budget could affect the DC metro region:

Many programs funded by these agencies send critical grants for local conservation to states and community organizations. For example:
·         The 28% cut to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which funds local stream restorations, urban tree planting, wildfire restoration, and so much more. This program has been a huge contributor to restoring the Anacostia River.

·         The 90% cut to the Chesapeake Bay Program, which delivers tens of millions of dollars in grants throughout the six-state Chesapeake Bay watershed to improve water quality and restore stream habitat and Bay health. Many of these grants go to farmers to improve their practices on their farms to reduce waste and control water pollution.

·         The 100% cut to the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, which provides grant funding to states to conserve and restore endangered species habitat. 100% cut!!

·         Also, the White House release claims that, “To further boost hunting opportunities, the Budget invests $34 million in North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants, a program that finances conservation of wetlands and associated uplands habitat to benefit waterfowl.” This is indeed an important source of funding for wetlands conservation…but that topline trumpeting of its importance hides the fact that the request actually reduces this amount by 11%!

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About ANS: ANS is the oldest, independent environmental organization in the DMV. Throughout its history, ANS has played a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS’s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

Follow ANS at www.Facebook.com/AudubonNaturalistSociety and www.Twitter.com/ANStweets

The White House

ANS WILL “WATCHDOG” PURPLE LINE DEVELOPMENT

“Mourns loss of forest that mitigates climate change and pollution”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  – August 30, 2017

CONTACT: caroline.brewer@anshome.org or 301-652-9188 x 23 for more information

Chevy Chase, MD – In response to news that the Purple Line developers broke ground this week, Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) Executive Director Lisa Alexander issued the following statement:

“The Purple Line is not as Deep Green as it could be. Thus, we mourn the loss of trees along the Capital Crescent Trail that have provided vital habitat for native wildlife and shade for runners, walkers, and bikers. These trees also absorb water that flows off our streets and roofs during storms, protecting Rock Creek and other tributaries from the pollution carried in that stormwater runoff. An equally important benefit of the forest canopy is that it helps mitigate climate change.

 “During construction, we will continue to watchdog the project to verify that it meets all of its permit terms. We’ll watch to see that the project invests mitigation dollars to authentically replace the ecosystem services that will be lost and disrupted by tree removal. We will press to make sure that mitigation happens as close as possible to the affected areas. 

“As difficult as the tree loss is, we don’t oppose the Purple Line.  We must encourage people to live and work close to transit instead of in developments that create sprawl, snarl traffic and devour open space.”

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ANS is the oldest, independent environmental organization in the DMV.  Throughout its history, ANS has played a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and most recently Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS’s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

 Learn more about ANS here: www.anshome.org, www.Facebook.com/AudubonNaturalistSociety, and www.Twitter.com/ANStweets