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and Team / Co
Jul 22, 2013
Arlington, VA
We just posted a front page article on the clearing going on at BGW along the Colonial Pipeline.

We received pictures of the clear-cutting from a source late last week, and what we saw concerned us: there has been a significant loss of trees in the area.  We did some investigating and discovered that the park is required for safety reasons to keep the right-of-way visible from the air.  We have also been assured that the park is doing everything it can to mitigate the affect, and the landscaping teams is working diligently to improve the appearance.

Hopefully, the article answers all of your questions, and we will let you know, if we get a preview of the new landscaping.
Honestly, one thing we couldn't figure out is why the clearing is happening now. We have several plausible theories, but no actual data. Presumably, since the structures pre-date the pipeline they are grandfathered. That said, the trees have been there for years, as well. I can't imagine that anything besides the shrubbery will be affected, but the whole thing is a bit puzzling.
These guidelines have been in place since the park was built. Nessie has a cantilevered supports over the pipeline and were done in concert with pipeline guidelines. The landscape department has, since the park been opened, been in constant touch with pipeline representatives. The flyovers are taken very seriously and even if equipment, eg, backhoe, is parked over the pipeline, a phone call will be soon to follow. In the past small shrubs, hedges in Italy, have been allowed, but trees have not been allowed ever. The pipeline is only a few feet deep in places and approximately 20' deep in others. it is certainly possible that the clearance limits have increased to require this tree work.
Great write up, Nicole.

It is a somewhat sad state of affairs for the park, but I do not think it will affect the park's title of World's Most Beautiful Theme Park. (Not to mention the fact NAPHA hasn't put out that survey since 2012 :p) A thing to keep in mind is that it is winter, and the trees are barren, pictures may depict unusually clear lines of sight, but they very well may dissipate (at least a little) once weather is warmer. The park has naturally clear views through trees in the winter/early spring compared to other times of the year.

Concerning the fact why the clearing occurred now, my inductive conclusion would be that the pipeline stopped allowing the park any special exceptions they had previously. The park has kept the utility zone mostly clear in the past, excluding what I believe were buffer zones, which the park had probably requested so there would be no ability to see across half of the park. And of course, trees directly over hamlets seemed to also have an exemption from the rule. It seems those exemptions are gone now. In fact, most of the trees next to the Wild Reserve over the pipeline area were not actually indigenous, just some that were replanted from a previous clearing to keep seeing to Killarney a minimum.

Shade-wise, I believe the only two areas affected in that respect will be the south end of Da Vinci's Garden of Inventions and potentially Heatherdowns near Loch Ness Drinks. The trees I suspect to be cleared beside the Wild Reserve were not shade providers, that is unless other trees near the utility zone were cleared also.

Not all hope is lost though, the park can still plant smaller shrubs, and if I reckon correctly, shallow-rooted evergreen trees over the pipeline area. There are many that the park could plant that would not largely interrupt the sight of the utility area from above, but still improve the sight issues inside the park. Privacy evergreens and tall growing shrubs, all of which the park has great experience with, could definitely be possibilities. I have confidence the Landscaping team will be able to, at the least, attempt to mask the sight issues inside the park. Their attempts may not immediately have an effect this season, but I definitely believe it will get better as time goes on.

Ultimately, there's nothing the park could have done to prevent this or even prepare for it. As unfortunate as it is, I don't think it should be something to dwell over.
Zimmy said:
It was built as a strategic resource.

I think Zimmy is on point.  By being able to inspect from the air (or satellite) they can verify the integrity of the pipeline more easily.  I know gas prices are down currently but it makes me wonder if there have been any problems or intelligence of anything planned by the bad guys.  I believe this pipeline (along with two smaller ones) deliver a great deal of the fuel (even jet fuel) for our region from the Gulf coast of Texas.  I hope the results can be mitigated but I can only imagine an ugly treeless scar running through the forested area of the park. :(

Edit: The Colonial Pipeline covers a lot of territory. Surely BGW is not the only company or attraction impacted by this new clearing requirement. Hopefully the historic areas miss the path.
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Great article
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To be clear, there are not trees directly above the pipeline unless they were put there recently. The local pipeline representatives are very familiar with their right of way through the park and inspect it by foot each year or more often as needed. Much of the pipeline is buried under service roads such as First Aid, Italy service, and the road across from first aid that goes down the hill to Nessie service building. There is a portion of the rain shelter adjacent to the Loch Ness rail crossing that was about a foot too close and its removal was planned at one time.
Regardless of what was allowed on the right-of-way previously, the pictures we saw showed extensive clear-cutting , creating wide site lines that were not there previously.

The question I am asking is why is the clearing so much more noticeable and dramatic now. Something must have changed.
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That is a shame as there were many mature native trees along the right of way. The Dawn Redwoods at the end of Da Vinci's Cradle may have reached a size that their roots are an issue. The clearing limits may have also been changed for pipelines in general and BGW will have minimal say on that. The actual right of way is larger than the footprint of trees that was allowed. Any chance the photographs can be posted? Also when the trees that are left leaf out it will make a huge difference. The park in the winter without leaves seems much smaller as most all villages are visible, where not during the summer and fall.
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