Sunday, December 10, 2023

A Call for Conscientious Consideration: Prince William Digital Gateway Threatens Land, Water, Heritage

December 8, 2023


A Call for Conscientious Consideration: Prince William Digital Gateway Threatens Land, Water, Heritage 


Woodbridge, Virginia – The United Tribes of the Shenandoah, alongside a diversity of community faith leaders, will host a peaceful prayer ceremony on Tuesday, December 12, at 9 AM at the Sean T. Connaughton Plaza located between the James J. McCoart Building and Development Services Building at the county government complex in Woodbridge, VA.  The prayer vigil will precede the scheduled public hearing to consider the Prince William Digital Gateway.


Those gathering will plead for environmental and cultural preservation in response to the imminent threat posed by the proposed project. If approved, the Prince William Digital Gateway would be the largest data center development in the world.  Its creation would bulldoze up to 2,000 acres of rural, agricultural and residential land, directly impacting the Manassas National Battlefield Park and Conway Robinson State Forest, further industrializing the Occoquan Reservoir watershed - a critical source of drinking water for the region.


Most responsible citizens and officials believe there is a balance which can be achieved between progress and preservation.  However, there are some elements of our community and government so preoccupied with commercial interests that they are willing to brusquely sweep aside any obstacles.  The irreplaceable historical and cultural sites of Prince William County are not something to be arbitrarily sacrificed for a fast buck.  Development that is smart and careful can be accomplished, if there is a will to do so.


The environmental community has consistently advocated for more stringent measures to safeguard natural and cultural assets in the path of this destructive proposal, which is also situated in one of the nation's most historically sensitive corridors.  It seriously threatens the preservation of African-American and Native American heritage. A recent study funded by the HOA Roundtable of Northern Virginia highlights a lack of attention to the Native American history in the area, particularly the dominance of the Manahoac Confederacy of Virginia in the Gainesville area before European settlers arrived.


Matthew “Maasaw” Howard, a Native American historian, has written a study that highlights a blatant lack of acknowledgment of tens of thousands of years of pre-colonial history. Maasaw emphasized the need to include this rich history in the county's narrative.  His study further indicates that resources and sites associated with historically marginalized communities has not been adequately assessed.


Superintendent Kristofer Butcher of the Manassas National Battlefield Park has made an urgent call for the initiation of a Cultural Landscape Report, which would provide a comprehensive analysis of the physical history, existing conditions, and recommended treatment actions to preserve, restore, or rehabilitate the landscape.


This call to action is not just a plea for preservation. It is a plea for conscientious consideration and a commitment to the sustainable and respectful development of the Prince William County landscape.


What: Prayer Vigil to precede the public hearing for the Prince William Digital Gateway

When: Tuesday, December 12th at 9 AM

Where: 1 County Complex Court, Woodbridge, VA (see map on following page)

Media Contacts: 

·       Prayer Vigil: Sheila Hansen, 540-270-3742,

·       American Indian Habitation in Gainesville, VA: Matthew “Maasaw” Howard,

·       To arrange interviews: John Steinbach, 703-822-3485,




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