Invitation for Public Review and Comment
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is seeking federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to improve public access to lands and waters in the Commonwealth. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is managed by the National Park Service and administered in Virginia by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. As part of the project planning process, the DWR is required by the National Park Service to consider potential project impacts, as defined in the National Environmental Policy Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. The DWR is working with regulatory and consulting agencies, like the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We also invite and welcome your input on the proposed projects, outlined below.
Public Comment Period: The Department of Wildlife Resources invites public comment on any of the projects and probable impacts associated with them during the comment period of April 22 through May 21, 2022. Comments received will be forwarded to the federal and state authorities for consideration. Please use the comment form provided below.
Westmoreland County – Acquisition for Public Access to Lands and Waters
The project includes the acquisition of ±2.6 acres along Branson Cove from a private owner to provide, at a future date, public access to Branson Cove and the Potomac River. No immediate land improvements are planned. The DWR envisions improving the boat ramp, providing an ADA-accessible fishing pier and a hand-launch site, and providing a gravel parking area. The project is consistent with identified public boating access needs of the DWR and addresses identified County and regional needs for access to the Potomac River, an American Heritage River. This location will provide access to the Potomac River Water Trail, the Potomac River Long-Distance Water Trail, and the Westmoreland County Water Trail. The project meets goals and recommendations in the Westmoreland County Comprehensive Plan, the Strategic Tourism Plan for the Northern Neck of Virginia: 2019-2023, and the Northern Neck Planning District Commission’s 2021—2022 Work Plan.
- Coles Point Boating Access Grant Description (PDF)
- Coles Point Boating Access Environmental Assessment and Plan (PDF)
- Project Maps (PDF)
Grayson County – Improving Public Access to Waters
The project includes improving four existing DWR sites that provide water access to the New River. The proposed work will utilize the existing footprint and gravel launch at boating access sites at Mouth of Wilson, Bridle Creek, Independence, and Baywood and provide an upgraded concrete launch. This improvement will allow for a more diverse recreational opportunity by allowing access to a larger variety of watercraft. Providing public water access is consistent with the DWR’s mission to connect people to the outdoors, and the current and future improved sites in this proposal are integral components in delivery of that mission. Access to the New River has been identified as a user priority in the DWR’s 2019 Boating Access Site and Facility Management Plan, as well as in the Grayson County Comprehensive Plan. The upgrades access sites will improve river access along the New River Trail State Park. The New River has been designated an American Heritage River. It is a unique and positive asset to the citizens and visitors of Grayson County, in its beauty, its recreational value, and in its economic (tourism) value.
- New River Boating Access Grant Description (PDF)
- New River Boating Access Environmental Assessment and Plan (PDF)
- Project Maps (PDF)
Wythe County – Improving Public Access to Lands
This project includes providing a 2,000-foot barrier-free trail at the DWR’s Big Survey Wildlife Management Area (WMA), demolishing an existing structure and erecting a new operations and maintenance building. The barrier free trail will provide recreational and health benefits. It would create a specialty trail 9 feet wide, made of crushed compacted limestone. The proximity to interstate corridors and the diversity of wildlife habitats adjacent to the forested areas provide an excellent opportunity to address the needs of limited-mobility wildlife enthusiasts, giving them greater opportunities to pursue a variety of wildlife-dependent recreation and other compatible uses, consistent with DWR and County goals and priorities. The operations and maintenance building will directly increase staff ability to do habitat work, maintain roads and parking, and increase access to Big Survey and surrounding DWR management areas.
- Big Survey Site Improvement Grant Description (PDF)
- Big Survey Site Improvement Environmental Assessment and Plan (PDF)
- Project Maps (PDF)
Washington and Smyth Counties – Improving Public Access to Lands
This project includes enhancing facilities by replacing two sections of degraded road (totaling approximately 3.5 miles, with average width of 18 feet), one re-asphalting and one replacing culverts; installing 4 vault toilets and a handicap accessible parking at each site; and installing a boating access courtesy pier on the DWR’s Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The first section of road repair would repave a section that has crumbled and in disrepair. The second section would replace and fix culverts that are no longer serviceable. This would ensure continued access for a wide variety of users and ensure continued access to the DWR’s lands and facilities. This project would install 4 vault toilets, which will provide amenities which would help with DWR’s goals of opening their lands to a wider range of users. These would all be ADA accessible and have accessible parking spaces with them. Finally a courtesy boarding pier would be added at the boat ramp at Laurel Bed Lake (within the Clinch Mountain WMA) to allow for users to more easily access their boats when launching and retrieving.
- Clinch Mountain Site Improvement Grant Description (PDF)
- Clinch Mountain Site Improvement Environmental Assessment and Plan (PDF)
- Project Maps (PDF)
The comment period has closed.