[Bristol-Birds] Meadowview Marsh was "For The Birds"

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2010 22:21:03 -0400

We were informed today, July 8, 2010, of a permit application submitted by
S&ME, Inc., for the City of Kingsport for the proposed aquatics center and
YMCA development at Meadowview Marsh at Reservoir Road and Wilcox 
Road in Kingsport.  It is a nesting site for the Virginia Rail and one of the 
best aquatic habitats in the Kingsport area and the region.  The
application states that they will be filling 18.7 acres of the 21.6 acres
wetland on site.  Both ponds are to be filled for parking areas.

The attached file meadowview marsh map.pdf shows the proposed
wetlands impact of the development.  Below is an air photo of the site.

The Bristol Bird Club made a successful stand to save part of the marsh in 
late 1992.  We appeared with other interested birders, provided an 
attorney and went before a city planning leader at a hearing to present our 
concerns.  We were joined by the Watauga Audubon Society and the Tennessee
Ornithological Society.  Area bird clubs were more focused on conservation
in the 1990s.  Many of our birders now have different agendas.  

About 1984, it was designated as a very special birding and refuge area.
Local area conservationists and community leaders called it a shinning
example of cooperation among industry, conservationists, and community.
Eastman provided the use of the land and materials and a fence.  Audubon
built and maintained a trail, scout groups did service projects, and hundreds
of people enjoyed it.  There was a neat refuge sign and a box that provided
a nice folder being distributed to visitors.  The words "Tennessee 
Society" appeared on the sign.

Naturally wet, it was made wetter.  Three man-made pits were allowed to fill
with water to become a pond ecosystems.  They will now be filled to provide
parking lots for the new project.

It became an important stopover for at least 10 migratory species -- Least
Bittern, Blue-winged Teal, American Bittern, American Woodcock, Common
Snipe, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Sora, Swamp Sparrow and the Northern
Waterthrush.  It was once the only known nesting site in the
state for the Virginia Rail (that has changed).  It is a neat flight area for
breeding woodcocks.  You could enjoy seeing gentians, musk mallows,
monkey flowers, and a whole community of plants unusual for Eastern

When the Kingsport Convention Center and the city began to make plans
to move Reservoir Road, they were planning to put the
road just 50 feet from pond number 2.  Part of the marsh was expected to
be chopped off.  It was then believed by Audubon that growing development
pressure to fill the whole thing in to create prime real estate was going to
someday happen.  Someday has happened.  The plans for prime real estate
now call for filling the whole thing in.  

An effort to convince the mayor, aldermen, and Planning and Zoning people
was made in November 1992.  It was successful.  The road was relocated
to save Meadowview Marsh and leave it as it was.

The Eastman Chemical Company placed a newspaper advertisement in each
of the Tri-Cities three newspapers and it covered about half a page.  They
supported our cause to save Meadowview Marsh for the birds.

Meadowview Marsh was for the birds when we were one and had a loud and
single voice.  It was before personality, jealousy and territorial bickering 
began to silence, divide and isolate communication and communities among 
birders and naturalists.  And special creatures are losing a place to inhabit 
and breed.  Are we leaving and not looking back ?  Do we know what is being
lost ?  Do we care ?  



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