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Special Interest Groups Have Bigger Agenda
Copyright DC Watch, March 6, 2003
By Marie Nelson

The Sierra Club's campaign to make Rock Creek Park a car-free zone looks only to a narrow portion of the environmental interests and not to what is best for DC overall. Under the guise of saving Klingle Valley, they have engaged in a high stakes fight to seize Klingle Road and even more of Beach Drive. Their publications boast about the success of now having twenty-one miles of Rock Creek Park as a car-free zone. That means miles of historic parkways, originally designed and dedicated for motor vehicle use, are inaccessible to those of us who do not choose to bike or unable to walk. This approach ignores what's in the best overall public interest of DC.

The local Sierra Club also seems to ignore the fact that the city intends to rebuild a road in Klingle valley sufficient to support motorized back hoe truck use and emergency vehicles, and insists that it will be more expensive to rebuild a road that cars could use. If Sierra Club condones the rebuilding of the access road, why then is it claiming it will be too expensive to rebuild the road for public vehicular use? If costs are the concern, why waste money adding a road called a hike/bike path? Sierra Club's tactics to close our historic parkways would have us focus narrowly on a tiny tributary in the Klingle watershed. This myopic view not only ignores the very real air quality concerns of our city, it shifts the focus away from serious environmental concerns. According to the EPA, our biggest water pollution problem is the Anacostia River (Rated #1 of 36) in northeast DC. By contrast, Klingle valley, in Ward 3 of northwest DC, is near the bottom, listed as a "low" priority. Moreover, Ward 3 is the greenest in the city, having as much green space as the rest of the city combined. Making Klingle valley a top environmental concern turns reality on its head, and ignores the true concerns of our urban environment.

Concerned citizens and activists should focus on issues of true gravity. Significant environmental concerns face our city: We have too many code red days. Sierra Club is suing DC over air pollution. EPA just downgraded our air quality rating. Sewers overflow into our streams and rivers. Our drinking water system is antiquated. At the same time, we must sustain development and economic revitalization. Over 57 organizations across the city, which include 10 ANCs from wards 1, 3, 4 and 5 who have come out in favor of restoring Klingle Road to its dedicated purpose. Next week is the hearing on both the Mayor's bill and the Council's bill. The DC Council has a choice. Be guided by the grassroots of this city and those who give "great weight," or be guided by small special interest groups with a narrow agenda.

For additional information, please email support@repairklingleroad.org