Statement from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Executive Director/CEO, Ron Tipton, regarding the proposed AT&T communication facility in Short Hill, Virginia
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is greatly concerned about the proposed AT&T communications facility in Short Hill, Virginia, a project that would threaten the scenic and cultural landscape of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in Loudoun County and the surrounding region.
The proposed 161,000-square-foot facility, which would replace the current underground communication station, is to be constructed at a height of 35 feet at the top of Short Hill Mountain, just two miles east of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. This new facility will produce a four-acre scar on the landscape and will be visible from the A.T. and the adjacent Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The structure will have night lighting that increases and exacerbates its visual impact, and will also affect the habitat of the Cerulean Warbler and other migratory birds. Additionally, significant noise pollution will be produced from the facility’s back-up generators, which will require frequent testing.
While AT&T has done an analysis of the potential visual impact of the facility from Harpers Ferry Road and Mountain Road, we are very disappointed it has not done a similar study for the adjacent Appalachian National Scenic Trail viewshed. As guardians of the A.T. and the surrounding landscape, the ATC encourages AT&T to conduct substantive and meaningful investigations to understand the visual, aural, and natural/cultural resource impacts on the Trail. The ATC also desires to be consulted early and often as plans are developed. The ATC will continue to gather research and data to better understand the proposed facility’s impact on the Appalachian Trail.
There are an estimated three million visitors on the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail each year, and the Trail section through western Loudoun County is increasingly popular. It is the ATC’s mission to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.”
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