Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed

Supervisors back scenic designation for Jordan River

See letter from County Administrator
John McCarthy to Virginia Dept. of
Conservation and Recreation

By: Kevin Allen, Rappahannock News Staff Writer

The Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors supported a movement Monday to protect the Jordan River under a voluntary state program.

The board authorized the Department of Conservation and Recreation to evaluate the Jordan's fitness for inclusion in the commonwealth's Scenic Rivers program.

Beginning in Shenandoah National Park, the Jordan winds 12.2 miles through Bean Hollow and Flint Hill through a mostly pristine area with several conservation easements before reaching its confluence with the Rappahannock River.

The DCR's Lynn Crump said at the supervisors' monthly meeting that the Scenic Rivers designation puts no restrictions on how adjacent landowners can use their land. The program is a voluntary action between local and state governments, she said.

But the designation has several advantages, Crump said. For example, the state has no eminent domain power in Scenic River areas; riparian landowners can benefit from land-use taxation on acreage next to the river; and dams cannot be built on a Scenic River without approval from the General Assembly.

A local group called the Jordan River Task Force brought the matter before the board. Joyce Harman, who headed the task force, said 100 percent of adjacent landowners know about the Scenic Rivers project and are in support of it.

Several county residents who own land along the Jordan were at the meeting and prepared to speak in favor of the designation. But their words were not necessary, because the supervisors did not need any convincing. The board supported the measure with little discussion and without any dissent.

Several county organizations also support the designation. Representatives from the Krebser Fund, the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Rappahannock County Conservation Alliance, the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection, RappFLOW and the Water Quality Advisory Committee wrote letters in support of scenic designation.

Rappahannock County High School's mapping team has also played a major role in the effort. Ninth-graders Justin Fitzmorris and John Mello presented several maps of the Jordan and its environs to the supervisors.

The state's Scenic Rivers system, which began in 1972, includes 486 miles of rivers on 22 waterways. Qualifying rivers are measured based on several criteria, including visual, historic and environmental considerations.

The Rappahannock River has been in the Scenic River system since 1985.

Six other county rivers are under consideration for scenic designation by the DCR. They are the Covington, Hazel, Hughes, Piney and Rush, as well as part of the Thornton River from Fletcher's Mill to Route 729.

©Times Community Newspapers 2007