Who speaks for beauty?
There is an area in western Prince William County known as the Rural Crescent. It is a planned preservation area intended to strengthen this county’s ability to control urban sprawl, to maintain local farmland and a country atmosphere. On the zoning map it forms a rough crescent shape and thus is called the Rural Crescent (see map below). It has limited utilities; any who live here are on septic and well water, which lowers costs to county taxpayers, and also controls the density development of the land.
Dominion Power now proposes to erect a 230 kilovolt above-ground transmission line through the Rural Crescent, clearing acres of land along the base of Bull Run Mountain from the northern PWC boundary to below the town of Haymarket. These transmission towers will forever impact the country atmosphere and ruin the pastoral views of the mountain and all the green space around it. When a friend of my wife heard of this, he wrote this comment: “It is an honor and privilege to stand with you and your husband against the decimation of beauty!” This man is totally blind, has been since birth, yet he respects beauty and realizes it is worth fighting to preserve it.
How much more critical is it for those of us who can see to fight against what will be lost?: The sight of a sunrise on the mountain, bathing it in a veil of gold that slips down onto the purple gray of night still hanging onto the lower slopes. The sight of wild turkeys strutting on the meadow at the edge of the wood while their hens pretend to ignore them. The sight of a fawn sleeping in the tall grass, while its mother grazes nearby. The sight of a summer rain topping the mountain ridge and rushing down like a misty avalanche, hissing like a tea kettle starting to boil. The vista of seductively green hay fields stretching across the valley floor to the woods beyond. It is a place of bald eagles, hawks, and vultures riding the air current high above; of geese driving wedges through the sky and descending to rest in an open field, dropping so close to the earth that you can hear the air in their wings, so close you might be able to reach up and touch them. It is the home of foxes, rabbits, squirrels, bears, raccoons, coyotes, bees, and butterflies – all nature’s creatures still here.
It is a beauty that strikes to the very soul, calms the spirit, and soothes the stress. A visit to the Crescent is escaping to a time nearly forgotten. I grew up in Washington and drank milk from cows that grazed out here. At that time Routes 7 and 50 were two-lane country roads, and Route 66 was a song about a mystic highway out West. We drove out to the country to see the cows graze, smell the fresh air, and escape the hassle of the city. We would find a spot under a tree and spread out a picnic lunch. It refreshed us, reinvigorated us, and relaxed us. This countryside can still do that today. The proposed power line will cut like a saber slash through this valley, with a harsh reminder that some think “progress” is more important than place. More basic to the issue is that the power line will be like the scout ant on your kitchen counter that finds the spilled sugar, a small innocuous creature hardly noticed, but if not stopped, followed by the entire troop of ants. The power line is an early intruder – if not stopped, more will follow.
The Rural Crescent was set up to be a buffer to keep sprawl from consuming the entire county. It is like beach dunes protecting the coast from the ever-pounding sea. They disappear if a storm washes them away. They have to be constantly reinforced and carefully maintained to withstand the storms. The Crescent has value far beyond the land contained in it, it sustains beauty and is a monument to all that have existed in this area at the base of Bull Run Mountain; from the Indians who lived here, to the frontiersmen who first ventured here, to the infantry armies who fought and died here, to the farmers who fed the cities to the east. If the Crescent falls apart, its beauty will vanish.
Money and power speak loudly around here. Who speaks for beauty?
Thomas Sheehan, Haymarket, VA