Work has begun again along Happy Creek, following a revised erosion and sediment control plan and the posting of work plans and permits on site as required (but which did not occur in October when the work began).
However, the plan does not reflect natural stream design standards that recommend more trees and less rock. Though a reduced amount of riprap is now called for, the current plan still shows both banks lined with riprap, some sections five feet up the bank from the water’s edge, other sections with riprap up to the original 15 feet.
Disappointingly, it seems that what the Happy Creek Coalition requested is not being granted by Town officials. The coalition requested:
- For the Town to follow best management practices for water quality in consultation with environmental experts, federal agencies, and local conservation organizations
- Limited use of riprap, only in areas as needed around bridges instead of the current plan which will channelize the stream, increase stormwater velocity and water temperature and destroy wildlife habitat
- Leaving the tree trunks in place to reduce soil disturbance and increased erosion
Front Royal has held a Tree City USA designation for 21 years and has received the Growth Award for 19 years running, the longest in the state. But, as a result of the destruction along Happy Creek, the town may lose this honor. Additionally, the Urban Forestry Advisory Council has resigned en masse in protest to the fact that the Town has continued to ignore the efforts and solutions of community volunteers including the Beautification of Front Royal Committee and the Tree Stewards, among other civic groups.
In the course of advocating for a better plan for Happy Creek, we heard a lot of misconceptions, some specific to this project and others misunderstanding the function of a riparian buffer. We’ve compiled these on our website here as a resource.