The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Yes, let’s keep the trees

Bonnica Cotman, whose house backs up to the woods, has lived her entire 49 years among the trees and hidden swamps in this historically Black community of Brown Grove in Hanover County, Va.
Bonnica Cotman, whose house backs up to the woods, has lived her entire 49 years among the trees and hidden swamps in this historically Black community of Brown Grove in Hanover County, Va. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
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Regarding Tanya Finch’s May 23 Local Opinions essay, “Greed is destroying forests and the environment in Fairfax County”:

This is happening in many other places around the country. In mostly rural Hanover County, Va., we have a “development corridor.” What does this mean? It means that healthy ecosystems are being wiped out to build retrogressive housing developments. What do I mean by retrogressive? Housing developments with uniformly black roofs, dark siding and miles of blacktop, which contribute to local high temperatures and overall global climate change. I also mean large swaths of unsupportable grass lawns with pesticides, herbicides and other lawn chemicals eventually being drained into wetlands and rivers, including the Chickahominy River.

We are continuing to destroy large, natural areas and accelerate our own doom. It’s too bad we have to take the plants and creatures on the earth with us.

Judy M. Thomas,
Mechanicsville, Va.

Tanya Finch was right to advocate for maintaining Virginia’s forests by resisting housing development pressure. But she failed to mention the primary means for accomplishing her goal: permanent forest preservation easements. Government must offer competitive rates for forested land that can then be permanently preserved to counter the attraction of selling to real estate developers. Elect leaders who will fund the forest preservation programs that will save those old-growth trees and support the environment.

Will Geckle, Sykesville, Md.

Tanya Finch was spot-on. I grew up on Long Island during a period of explosive development. You could witness the loss of natural environment as much of Nassau County was paved over for one mall after another, one development after another, replacing what little nature was left with traffic, concrete and asphalt.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors must prioritize preservation of livable green space over unrestrained development to avoid a similar fate for our county and its residents.

Jim McMahon, Springfield

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