On January 12, 2017, Dominion submitted revised applications for conversion of open space on 10 Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) easements in Highland, Bath, Augusta and Nelson counties that are on the proposed ACP route. The applications will be considered by the VOF Board of Trustees at its meeting in Richmond on February 9, 2017. Download the revised applications here.
Dominion first submitted draft applications in May 2016, and in its revised applications is seeking a permanent right-of-way within which to construct the ACP. Dominion claims to have reduced the direct impact on current conservation easements by 13 acres and offers to VOF new easements on land elsewhere in exchange for encroachment of existing easements.
Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby says the 21-to-one acreage swap offered is a “generous offer.” But the offer is insignificant compared to the damage the pipeline would cause to forests, waterways, and wildlife. Take this piece of land and let us destroy these others? Consider the words of Aldo Leopold, writer, ecologist, and author of Sand County Almanac: “Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left.”
Pipeline opponents say the Dominion’s proposed conversion would violate state law, specifically § 10.1-1704 of the Code of Virginia, which allows for easement conversions only if they meet certain conditions, including showing conversions are “essential to the orderly development and growth of the locality.” Greg Buppert, Southern Environmental Law Center, said, “There is simply no way for Dominion to argue that this is essential to those localities.” Localities will receive no benefit from the ACP.
Further, if VOF agrees to convert the easements, it would cripple the program intended to protect scenic and environmentally valuable property. Buppert noted, “The risk here for the easement program is significant. If the VOF says yes, they undermine the critical trust between the Foundation and the owner of the easement.” How many property owners will want to put land in conservation easement to protect against development if they see that VOF will allow construction of 42-inch pipelines on that property?
Although the January 12, 2017, deadline has passed for having your letter included with the advance packet for the VOF Board, you may still write to protest this unwarranted taking of land currently in easement. Send letters to:
Brett Christina Glymph, Executive Director
39 Garrett St., Suite 200
Warrenton, VA 20186
Read more about the ACP threat to protected private land on the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) Story Map page about the unprecedented request to VOF.