The Scenic 340 Project is a grassroots nonprofit group formed in 1999 to oppose a VDOT plan to widen Route 340 to four and five lanes from Front Royal to Luray. Since that time, Scenic 340 has worked to change road-building policy at the state level, partnered with community members to conserve more than 2,300 acres of forest and farmland, and enhanced the scenic beauty of the historic Route 340 corridor.
After more than 20 years of the core leadership’s work, these self-proclaimed aging tree-huggers welcome with great enthusiasm the new energy provided by the Alliance. The current president and other volunteers see the mission statements of the two organizations meshing perfectly – both seeking to preserve and protect our natural environment and cultural resources in the Valley. And they look forward to working closely with the Alliance in the future, opening doors to even more conservation opportunities in Page and Warren counties.
The Scenic 340 Project works to preserve and protect the unique rural character, the natural environment, and the heritage of the Route 340 corridor – from Front Royal to Waynesboro. The Scenic 340 Project seeks to:
- Identify cultural and historic sites along the corridor
- Protect scenic views and air quality along Route 340 and from Skyline Drive
- Identify threatened or endangered species
- Protect the fragile Karst geology and ground water quality
- Foster economic development through heritage and tourism and by protecting productive farmland
- Work with local governments to advance land use planning tools
VDOT’s proposal to widen Route 340 to four and five lanes in 1999 endangered scenic viewsheds, Civil War battlefields, productive farmland, community identity and a growing heritage tourism industry. For more than a decade, Scenic 340 members were deeply engaged in the transportation planning process, promoting alternatives guided by Context Sensitive Solutions. Thankfully, VDOT abandoned the harmful plan, opting instead to replace four bridges in need of repair. Scenic 340 advocates for aesthetic and environmentally sensitive design in the bridge projects.
The Scenic 340 Project promotes the voluntary protection of working farmland, forests, and historic resources. The 20 miles linking Front Royal and Luray is rich with historic and scenic lands. In 2010, the Route 340 corridor of the Page Valley was designated a Special Project Area by Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The Department of Historic Resources declared the same area “eligible for listing as a Rural Historic District.” Landowners here have protected more than 2,300 acres with conservation easements, providing a critical wildlife travel corridor linking Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest.
With an eye to encouraging more conservation easements along the South Fork of the Shenandoah, Scenic 340 Project initiated a purchase of development rights (PDR) program in Warren County. The first landowner in the program recently completed a conservation easement, protecting 50 acres on the river.
Prior to VDOT’s replacement of the Overall Creek and Gooney Creek bridges, there was a spectacular canopy of redbuds through the corridor. Sadly the trees had to be removed for the road project. Thanks to Scenic 340’s ongoing work, native trees and shrubs will soon restore the corridor to its former glory!
Contact Scenic 340 Project
Paula Atwood, President
Tom Lockhard, Vice President
P.O. Box 340
Bentonville, VA 22610