Agenda Item #5
This presentation was to have been Agenda Item #5 for the April 10, 2014 meeting of the Lancaster County Wetlands Board, by prior agreement with the Board’s staff. Because it was not included on the printed agenda there was question by the Board about allowing a statement. After further discussion – see below – the remarks of Ms. Kendrick were permitted.
Transcript of Remarks
by Beth Kendrick
Representing the Dymer Creek Environmental Preservation Association
Re: Lancaster County’s Proposed Simmons Cove Boat Ramp
Before the Lancaster County Wetlands Board
April 10, 2014
Good morning. My name is Beth Kendrick.
Thank you for letting the Dymer Creek Preservation Association speak to you about the Simmons Cove Boat Ramp Project.
(Interruption for discussion on whether to allow public comment on this project -
good information pertaining to the authority of the Wetlands Board provided by Jay Woodward of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission)
I did understand that because the County is the landowner here that your jurisdiction unfortunately…—our recourse to you is nonexistent.
The County intends to put a boat ramp on Simmons Cove at the headwaters of Dymer Creek. Simmons Cove is a small (50 yard wide) narrow cove with minimal water depth even at high tide. Most times, canoes are all that can navigate it. Because of the shallowness of the water, Simmons Cove has been relatively undisturbed for decades. Its shoreline has not changed since 1937 (DGIF).
The County intends to bulldoze down to the water, putting in a “large boat” concrete ramp, a small pier and a 35 car and trailer parking lot. Then because of the lack of water depth in this cove, dredge two to three football field lengths to reach navigable water.
By dredging in this small cove they will damage the benthic layer affecting the food chain and habitat of the cove. It will increase siltation, increasing turbidity, and decreasing sunlight penetration necessary for vegetative growth and oxygenation of the water. Dredging will destroy spawning habitat. It will damage the protective cover the cove provides for small fish, crabs, crustaceans and oysters from predators. Dredging will smother fish eggs, larvae of insects and possibly bury the oyster beds that are existant at the edge of this cove. This disturbance will allow invasive species such as phragmites to come in and invade the cove, choking out native vegetation.
The boats will cause oil, gas, bottom paint, human waste and trash to enter the system and, as it’s the headwaters, continue on down the creek. Because of the silting in, redredging will probably be necessary and therefore the habitat will be unable to correct itself from the initial invasion.
Simmons Cove and the adjacent Dunton Cove are home to two mature and three immature bald eagles who use them as fishing grounds, wintering and roosting areas.
Osprey, geese, herons (with an established rookery in Dunton Cove), waterfowl, fish, crabs, oysters, muskrat and a myriad of other wildlife use these protected coves as shelter and food sources or as a stopping point on their migration route. The Fish and Wildlife Service states that roads, docks, and motorized watercraft will disturb these eagles and the other wildlife living there.
When developing this site, I am sure the County looked at the VMRC (Virginia Marine Resources Commission) and DGIF (Department of Game and Inland Fisheries) guidelines for building boat ramps. These government environmental agencies have listed undesirable site characteristics and desirable ones.
Undesirable sites have:
- Less than three feet of water
- Are suitable for shellfish growth
- Have private oyster leases
- Are adjacent to wetlands
- Are difficult to navigate and a safety issue when crowded and
- Their proximity to a navigable channel is more than 50’
Simmons Cove has all of these undesirable traits.
Another problem this ramp will pose to Simmons Cove and Dymer Creek is erosion. Few banks have hardscape since there has been no need. The banks are mostly wetlands vegetation and cord grasses. Wave action from boats and motorized water vehicles will cause severe erosion. Trees along the water will be lost as their roots become exposed and fall into the creek creating navigation hazards. Landowners will have to use hardscape materials to protect their property. Riprap and hardscapes will take away the normal interaction between the upland and water habitats changing the ecology of the area.
The County’s own Comprehensive Plan (p. 5-13) states that “boating access areas with ramps are intensely used. Due to possible impacts boating can have on the environment it is important to target suitable areas for these facilities.”
This Simmons Cove project is the needless destruction of a healthy wetlands ecosystem.
The truth of the matter is that the Board would never have chosen Simmons Cove as the place to put a public boat ramp because of the very reasons I have listed. It is only being considered because the County made a deal with a developer: free land for a boat ramp. There are better places, better water and better access without this environmental destruction.
A recording of Beth Kendrick’s statement