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Perhaps some have not read some of my commentaries in this newspaper about our precious county and how it is, in fact, protected from the ravages of development that some warn might be our fate. For one, all the major roads depicted in the art I’ve attached (Routes 7, 50, 66, and 29) lead economic growth along those corridors, bypassing Rappahannock County (the star drawn) completely.
This was reinforced last week when I was Easter shopping and took I-66 from Gainesville to Marshall, which has blossomed a lot since my last trip. Why? It has two easy access exits off 66. Economic progress in Rappahannock is not as easy. Some remember how much of the Fall “leaf peeper” traffic fell off after 66 was expanded from Washington, DC. Further, Rappahannock County does not have the population numbers feasible for any large box-type store to even consider investing here.
Now, however, think about the conservation easements Ron Maxwell mentioned in last week’s Rappahannock News. Those have steadily grown in the past two decades to encompass over 20% of the county, protecting our wildlife, our lands, providing the spacious views that we who live here (and tourists) enjoy. It’s why we have our dark skies so many can see the Milky Way and other constellation delights.
How else are we protecting our land? Some of our farmers have decided to use methods of carbon sequestration (no till, cover crops) to take carbon out of the air better, give healthier soil for better tasting, healthier produce, livestock, and yes, humans. Chef O’Connell used Farm to Table eons before it became a nationwide movement, listing his local sources in his menus. Planting trees is another way to help our wildlife. A while ago, the Town of Washington was able to plant 100 trees there and last year acquired the gift of 100 more for Town and also County residents.
To address the housing discussion: we are probably usually replacing those lost over time due sometimes to age, due sometimes to a few being repurposed into businesses. That can be remedied and blended into our villages & towns as stated in our Comprehensive Plan.
When retirees settle here, they usually refurbish/restore the purchased property which increases tax revenues and replenishes our county coffers while not adding children. This is a double-edged sword, as we need families with children to provide the continuation of population as elders pass. So there are goals to meet to continue to have the thriving community we cherish. I think we are doing well on all counts that I have described here and hope it reassures many enjoying it here, for now and our future.
The writer lives outside of Washington.