Public meeting scheduled for South River recreation access

augusta countyAugusta County is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, March 25, to solicit ideas from residents on improving access to the South River.

The meeting will be held at the Crimora Community Center from 5-7 p.m.

Brief presentations will take place around 5:15 p.m. and 6 p.m., and citizens are encouraged to drop in as they are able.

Those interested in fishing and boating the South River are invited to attend, hear about the projects at Crimora Park and Dooms Crossing, and give feedback.

Augusta County received grants for two projects through the DuPont Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) settlement to improve access to the South River.

The two grants, both in the amount of $100,000, will go towards the projects at Crimora Park and Dooms Crossing.

“It is so important to hear what the public would like to see done in these two areas. This information is vital to guide the forward development of both access points,” said Nick Grow, program coordinator for Augusta County Parks and Recreation.

The project at Crimora Park will focus on improvement of current river access. This meeting will give citizens the chance to review staff concepts and provide input.

The Dooms Crossing river access project will be a second phase as the county previously received funding through the DuPont NRDAR settlement to stabilize eroding stream banks, remove portions of an old failed dam, and remove log jams. The prior grant also included acquisition of approximately 6 acres of land on the south side of Dooms Crossing Rd.

In September, the Parks and Recreation department administered a survey to gather public input on recreational river access in the county, particularly focusing on the South River. Survey outcomes helped to focus initial staff efforts in submitting grant requests to the DuPont NRDAR settlement.

Survey results also indicated considerable interest for new or improved river access on the South River at Harriston, Dooms Crossing, and Crimora. Since readily available land could not be identified at Harriston, staff submitted grant proposals for both Crimora and Dooms Crossing and received funding for both.

The DuPont NRDAR settlement was established as a result of DuPont, an industrial facility in Waynesboro, releasing mercury into the South River between 1929 and 1950. The effect of that release continues to this day and has greatly impacted the entire Shenandoah River watershed.

The settlement, negotiated and administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Secretary of Natural Resources, offers $42 million to be used for restoration projects that specifically restore natural resources and services injured by the mercury release.

Several grant/project categories have been established for the settlement, one of which is recreational fishing access. One of the greatest impacts of the mercury release was damage to the fishery in the Shenandoah River watershed, which includes the South River.

That damage resulted in fewer fishing trips and diminished value of the rivers in the watershed as a recreational resource. Both of the grants awarded to the county were allocated through this recreational fishing access category.

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