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.
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 2019, 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.
Public Input Received in Spring 2020
On March 25, 2020, county staff presented both projects in detail through an online meeting format in order to receive public input. The presentation detailed proposed designs, original cost estimates, and necessary cuts to fit the project budgets. Following the presentation, attendees were encouraged to take a survey to provide feedback and input. The recorded presentation can be viewed below along with the survey results.
Staff continue to work on development of the projects at Crimora Park and Dooms Crossing. Next steps include completing historic and wetlands reviews, finalizing design and site plan development, and beginning the procurement process to contract out the construction work.