Letter – Massacred marsh

Published 8:15 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Windsor Castle is an urban park in Smithfield offering a variety of attractions to visitors such as special events, walking trails, canoeing, fishing and wildlife viewing. 

The park authorities promoted the natural habitat by creating artificial reefs whose benefits were documented by an Old Dominion University study. This and other efforts to maintain the environmental quality of the park were contributed by Virginia Master Naturalists, Smithfield Foods, the James River Association and National Wildlife Foundation. In my opinion these practices were recently betrayed by the Windsor Castle authorities by the “clear-cutting” of the marsh micro-ecosystem next to the fishing pier within the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act protection area. 

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For years I have documented the wildlife within the park and photographed the mockingbirds, redwing blackbirds, marsh sparrows and others that nested in the area and fed on the berries from the bushes that were obliterated during the recent massacre of the wetland vegetation.

What led to this action by the park authorities is unknown, but according to fishermen at the pier, they were told by the staff that a park official wanted to have a “clear view of Cypress Creek” from the top of the hill where the buildings are. The fishermen were not happy about it because the tall marsh grasses provided them with a wind barrier.

The park authorities in the past have been exemplary in restoring the grounds to original status after events were completed. Recently an area was covered with gravel during an event there and the gravel was not removed; this material is considered an “impervious surface” and regulated by the environmental officials, who may mandate its removal plus fines — another example of local government telling the citizens “do what I tell you but not as I do”?


Jose Hernandez