Bat could bring delays to Loudoun County school construction

WASHINGTON — A 3-inch-long bat could mean months of delays for the construction of several new schools in Loudoun County.

“This is not a joke, this is real,” said Loudoun County School Board member Jeff Morse, who represents the Dulles District.

The Northern Long-Eared Bat is considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act and the problem for the school system is the bat’s migratory path, which includes parts of Loudoun County.

The clearing of land for construction in the bats’ flight path is prohibited between the months of April and August, according to rules set up by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This all comes down to our inability to conduct some of the ground work and site clearing during these transit periods for the bats,” Morse told the board during a meeting this week.

A new middle school for Dulles South is desperately needed to help with overcrowding. In order for it to open in fall of 2018, Morse said ground clearing at the construction site must happen this year.

In an attempt to meet the deadline, the school board voted to ask the board of supervisors to set aside $3 million for the school design process.

Morse said the inability to get the plans approved in time could delay the project by at least a year.

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