The Rappahannock River Recreational Access Guide

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    The Rappahannock River Recreational Access Guide

    Planning Environmentally Low-Impact Recreational Access on

    Riparian Lands

    Friends of the Rappahannock

    Fredericksburg, Virginia

    2007

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    River Access Guide Contributors

    Jennifer Allen, Friends of the Rappahannock, Project Manager/WriterJohn Tippett, Friends of the Rappahannock

    Dave King, Fredericksburg Public WorksErik Nelson, Fredericksburg Office of Planning and Community Development

    Hal Wiggins, U.S. Army Corps of EngineersJessica DeWitt, Friends of the Rappahannock, Intern

    Acknowledgements

    We sincerely thank the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network for the grantfunding the development of this guide. We also are grateful to Kyle Schatz and Carol Brooks forcreating much of the artwork in this guide.

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    Table of Contents

    1. Introduction

    2. Low-Impact Recreational River Access: Guiding Principles

    3. Smart Access Planning: Practices

    4. Corridors for Wildlife: Practices

    5. Preserving our Natural Heritage: Practices

    6. Healthy Waters: Practices6.1. General Soil and Erosion Control6.2. Riparian Buffers6.3. Wetland Protection

    7. Go Native: Practices

    8. Scenic Integrity: Practices

    9. Respect Historical Resources: Practices

    10.Recreational Infrastructure: Design Examples, Specifications and Recommended Resourcesfor Further Information

    10.1. Environmentally-Suitable Materials10.2. Erosion and Sediment Control Measures during Construction10.3. Trails and Associated Features

    Trail Corridor WidthsTrailbedSurface Water Control on TrailsTrails in Wet AreasRiver OverlooksVehicle/ATV ExclusionBenches

    10.4. Primitive Campsites

    10.5. Non-Motorized Boat LandingsSite SelectionPermitsDesign AspectsBoat Landing Construction Methods and Materials

    10.6. Access Roads, Parking Areas, and Signs

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    10.References

    11.AppendicesAppendix 1: Observable field indicators of wetland hydrologyAppendix 2: Native woody plants for stream restoration

    Appendix 3: Virginia plant nurseries and suppliers of native plantsAppendix 4: Suppliers of geotextile and environmentally-friendlybuilding materials

    Appendix 5: Sample bench and kiosk designs

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    1. The Rappahannock River Watershed

    The Rappahannock River flows swiftlydown from its headwaters in the BlueRidge Mountains, winds through the

    rural Virginia Piedmont, and gentlythrough our tidewater landscapes to theChesapeake Bay. Throughout thiswatershed, the river is valued for its:o Unassuming beauty and offerings of

    outdoor recreation and spiritualityo Plentitude of clean water for

    agricultural irrigation, livestockwatering, and fisheries and shellfishindustries

    o Strength to power various industries

    such as mills and electricity, ando Historical role as a navigable

    waterway for consumable goods, a natural feature utilized during the Civil and RevolutionaryWars, and a sustaining resource for Native American tribes.

    The river freely provides these ecological, scenic, historical and socio-economic services, greatlybenefiting Virginias citizens currently and throughout historical times. To continue providingthese services, mankind must serve as good stewards of the lands and waters within theRappahannock River watershed. What does it mean to be a good steward? In the context ofconserving our natural resources, being a good steward means to live lightly on the land and torestore impaired natural resources.

    This river access guide has been created to help citizens plan for future river recreational accessthat floats lightly on the water. Desired recreational uses include, but are not limited to,canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting.

    The goal of this guide is toprovide assistance on balancingtwo common, yet oftenconflicting natural resourcemanagement objectives:providing public recreationalaccess and protecting theecological, scenic, and historicvalues of this significant regionalresource. Our philosophyregarding public recreational useof the Rappahannock River isManagement throughInfrastructure public

    The Rappahannock River Watershed

    K. Schatz

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    recreational use can be proactively managed to protect this natural resource by appropriatelyplanning, designing and managing river access points.

    In The Rappahannock River Recreational Access Guide, we provide guidance in the form of alist ofGuiding Principles on planning and constructing low-impact, environmentally-sensitive

    infrastructure common to river recreational access points, such as river trails, boat landings, andprimitive campsites. In separate sections, each Guiding Principle is accompanied by a series ofBest Practices, or recommendations, on how to implement these Guiding Principles. Sincecertain topics, such as trail or boat launch design can be technically involved, we have providedan additional section on the nuts and bolts of more complex topics.

    This guide provides information about several river recreational access topics, none of which canbe fully explored in this guide. As such, we have structured the guide as the starting point whenplanning a new river access point each section of this guide also includes a Resource Boxlisting references that will provide more technical expertise for a particular topic.

    The Rappahannock River Recreational Access Guide is appropriate for river access points abovethe fall line (the zone between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain physiographic regions) thisgeographic scope essentially is the lands and waters upstream of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Inparticular, this guide will be useful for planning future river access points on FredericksburgsWatershed Property. Much of this watershed property (4,232 acres preserving 65.7 miles ofriparian buffer along the Rappahannock and its tributaries) is protected from future landdevelopment under a permanent conservation easement, though certain uses such as low-impactoutdoor recreational activities are permitted. The purpose of this easement is to (City ofFredericksburg 2006):

    (1) Protect the natural environment and habitats, including the viewscape to andfrom the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers;

    (2) Protect the water quality of the Rivers and to provide adequate public watersupplies;

    (3) Protect the historic and archeological resources(4) Prevent residential and commercial development; and(5) Allow reasonable use and enjoyment of the Property by the general public.

    This guide will be useful in encouraging compliance to the goals of this easement.

    Although the geographic intent of this guide is limited, many of the Guiding Principles andPractices can be used in the lower Rappahannock River basin and in other watersheds.

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    2. Low Impact Recreational River Access: Guiding Principles

    The Guiding Principles for planning and constructing environmentally-sensitive recreational river access are as follows:

    Smart Access Planning River access points are planned from a regional perspective,focused on not only providing non-duplicative recreational opportunities but also onconserving natural and historic resources.

    Corridors for Wildlife Riparian forested corridors are protected to provide habitatconnectivity for wildlife dispersal, migration, and potentially breeding habitat use.

    Preserve our Natural Heritage The conservation areas of rare, threatened and endangeredplants and animals is actively avoided to preserve these species and their habitats forgenerations to come.

    Healthy Waters Water quality is protected for recreational uses, aquatic life, wildlife, theproduction of edible and marketable fish and shellfish, and the drinking water supply.

    Go Native Non-native, invasive plants and animals are not intentionally introduced to newsites, and unintentional introductions are quickly controlled.

    Scenic Integrity The natural visual quality and the sense of place is preserved.

    Respect History Historic features are respected as part of the landscape and are notdisturbed.

    K. Schatz

    C. Brooks

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    3. Smart Access Planning: Practices

    Smart Access Planning is a planning approach based on a regional perspective rather than asingle landowner or county basis. Why plan with a regional focus? A regionally-based plan canbalance the desire for additional public river access points while also protecting the ecological,

    historic and scenic values of the river and its surrounding landscapes.

    Practice: Promote regional planning to avoid non-duplicative access. An example of

    duplicative access is adjacent counties or landowners installing boat launches on either side oftheir boundaries.

    Practice: Develop regional river accessplans from a Green Infrastructurephilosophy rather than from a gray (orbuilt) infrastructure perspective.

    Green infrastructures are our naturallandscapes and riverscapes aninterconnected