Monday, December 21, 2009

New River Access Opens

The addition of a new canoe and kayak ramp on the Smith River increases the total of official access locations to an unprecedented number for our region. The Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) and their Martinsville-Henry County Rivers & Trails Group is pleased to announce the opening of the newest access ramp at Mitchell Road Bridge in Axton, bringing the total to nine Smith River access sites across Henry County.

A 2008 survey of canoeists and kayakers across Virginia and North Carolina indicated that the section of river from Marrowbone Creek to Mitchell Road Bridge was the second most popular segment on the Smith River. This stretch of river is also very popular with float fishermen as well as canoe and kayak outfitters.

The Henry County Public Service Authority began construction of the Mitchell Bridge access in early December for Henry County Parks & Recreation, with planning assistance from the Dan River Basin Association. The access is located upstream, river-left of the bridge and has ample parking for vehicles and shuttle vans to safely handle boats and passengers. Educational signage planned for the site in the spring will provide information on the area’s natural assets.

The access also received some enhancements thanks to support from Patrick Henry Correctional Unit #28 and Prillaman Landscape Dimensions. Inmates from the prison removed litter and cleared the access area. Crews from Prillaman Landscape Dimensions planted nearly one hundred native trees and shrubs around the parking area and along the shoreline. Junipers, sycamores, tulip poplars, and sweet gum trees are featured, as well as a number of butterfly attractant shrubs including spice bush, red twig dogwood, button bush, witch hazel, three types of willow (goat, banker and black), choke berry, service berry, and fragrant sumac.

According to Brian Williams, Outreach and Education Coordinator for DRBA, "The plantings at the access ramps not only provide shade and beautification but will also protect the river banks from erosion. The trees and shrubs are part of a larger campaign to protect water quality in the region by increasing streamside buffers which absorb pollutants before they reach the river and reduce sediment pollution by keeping erosion in check."

Funding for these plantings was provided by ticket sales and donations from the first annual Smith River Film Festival at the Rives Theater in September and also from a re-showing of the films held at Philpott Lake in November. DRBA would like to thank all who participated in these events.

Photos by Jennifer Doss

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are there any new river access points planned for rivers in NC? I hope so! (especially on the Dan) We really need one close to the Harrington Highway bridge. Also on the Mayo near Rt. 135.