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VA Mattaponi River Makes “52 Places” List

October 22, 2007

Richmond, VA – The water in the Mattaponi River may be more precious than gold. The river is part of a list of more than 50 places that could be considered the nation's "most threatened" by development.

A proposal to dam the Mattaponi and create a reservoir to provide water for the growing Newport News area has been debated for several years. Opponents say it would destroy Native American sacred land, archaeological sites, wetlands, and fisheries; backers counter that growth on the lower peninsula will stagnate without a fresh water supply.

Mike Bybee, an author of the Sierra Club's "52 Places" report, says the idea of creating a reservoir is not as simple an undertaking as was first presented to the public.

"Oftentimes, developers and local elected officials, who are very interested in growing their communities, don't often stop to think about the impacts that that kind of development would have. One of the biggest threats to all of our public lands is simply development -- the growth of these cities, the growth of communities and homes."

Bybee adds other studies have shown the reservoir is not needed. It's currently being challenged in federal court.

Read the full "52 Places" report online, at www.sierraclub.org.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - VA