It is important these days that we assume positive intent from others. We must believe that politicians are doing their best to serve the constituency that has sent them to their office. Personally, I’m working to look for the best in all of our representatives, whether red or blue, liberal or GOP. I strive to resist my primitive urge to pick a side but first to learn what politicians are working to do, regardless of their party affiliation.
We have an election coming up and I love the Shenandoah Valley. I have deep roots here as do many of my neighbors. The mountains to the east and west provide the backdrop to more than 10 generations of my family on both sides. I want those mountains, the rivers, and the scenery to be here for my children and theirs. For these reasons, I’m disheartened when I see that local politicians are putting their names on bills that will imperil these streams and mountains, making them vulnerable to unfettered development or waste. We have to be good stewards of this land.
Tony Wilt has a long history of siding with unfettered, unsustainable development of this land I love. In 2011, Wilt authored a bill that would provide stormwater management fee waivers to state and federal agencies. In 2016, he again co-authored a bill that would provide for certain municipalities to get a pass and opt out of erosion and stormwater management programs. In 2014, Wilt co-authored legislation to reduce clean air standards for energy producers. In 2015, he authored a bill that would take enforcement power of the Scenic Rivers Advisory Committee away providing for less oversight on all projects.
Scenic rivers in Virginia include the Calfpasture, the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, the Rapidan River, as well as many others. I’ve shed and camped and paddled those rivers as have many of my friends and family members. Removing simple, commonsense protection for these rivers could change them forever. If we neglect good stewardship of our land and water, it will be gone in perpetuity. Native trout are hard to bring back, as are old-growth forests and meandering rivers. These aren’t just bad policies. They’re threats to the very character of the Valley.
Wilt is a lifelong Shenandoah Valley resident, but for some reason, he lacks either the desire or the acumen to promulgate legislation that will protect the scenic value of the Valley for generations hence. Even worse, he’s worked for years to repeal good ideas from the Code of Virginia that will ensure smart, well-reasoned progress. We must assume the best of intentions from our politicians in both parties, but when they show us time and time again that they don’t have the Shenandoah Valley’s best interests at heart, it is our responsibility to vote them out of office.
Peter Barlow lives in Rockingham.