If you know me, you know I am passionate about two things: conservation and recreation. I spend my workdays advocating for public river access on the James, from the Alleghany Highlands to the Chesapeake Bay. When I’m not advocating for access, I’m usually enjoying the fruits of my labor.
The Huguenot Flatwater put-in is a popular kayak access point on the James River in Richmond. Credit: Elli Morris
Public river access is important to our uniquely Richmond way of life and we need more of it. Access contributes to a better quality of life for residents of our region and creates business opportunities (think Riverside Outfitters). An expanded network of access sites will lessen human impact on special places like the James River Park System and meet the recreational needs of a growing population. Access to the James makes our favorite river pastimes, like rafting and kayaking the Falls of the James, rock-hopping at 42nd Street and Pony Pasture, swimming, and fishing.
November was an exciting month for river enthusiasts in our region. Numerous public river access projects are in the works, and the good news is they are not confined to the city limits. Localities above and below Richmond are doing their parts. Chesterfield County is moving forward with an exciting proposal to create a 109-acre riverfront park on the James at Falling Creek. This project recently received a $302,000 grant from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation and will feature boating and fishing access as well as a trail network connecting to Drewry’s Bluff and Falling Creek Linear Park and Ironworks. Goochland County plans to construct a canoe launch at Tucker Park to be complete in 2016. A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the park a two weeks ago. The City of Richmond also announced plans for the Intermediate Terminal and the “Sugar Pad” two weeks ago. Local civil engineering and design firm, Timmons Group, has been contracted to develop conceptual plans for the site and will hold public meetings beginning in mid-January 2016 to discuss project concepts and design recommendations.
As these projects are getting underway, the James River Association continues to work with Timmons Group, 3north, and the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission to finalize a draft of the Regional Rivers Plan. This plan, one of four recommendations of the Capital Region Collaborative’s James River Work Group, is expected to catalyze public river access projects on the James, Appomattox, Chickahominy, and Pamunkey Rivers. The plan is expected to be complete in early 2016.
More river access is on the way, RVA!