It took two years of work, but 6.5 miles of the South River in Waynesboro have earned recognition as a Virginia Scenic River.
The city of Waynesboro is working to turn the South River area into a beautiful recreational destination by creating a greenway and open spaces along the corridor. In April 2019, city council members began the process of earning a Virginia Scenic River designation by passing a resolution of support for the designation of the segment of South River that winds through the city.
With the resolution in hand, the next step was a float with DCR to evaluate the river segment’s environmental and historical qualities and special features. A report on the river as a resource to the community was completed in 2020, stating the river was, indeed, eligible for designation.
“There has been a great effort to restore the river. Now, people come from Richmond to fish, recreate and enjoy this bit of wilderness in the center of the city,” said Lynn Crump, Virginia Scenic Rivers Program Coordinator.
The General Assembly has the final say in whether a waterway achieves the state Scenic River designation. The South River scenic designation bill, patroned by Delegate John Avoli, passed in the 2021 session and was signed by the Governor, honoring the Waynesboro stretch of the river with its official designation.
Scenic River Designations: What you should know
In 2020, the Virginia Scenic Rivers Program celebrated 50 years, making it one of the nation’s oldest programs. The Scenic Rivers Program recognizes rivers in Virginia for their pristine beauty and important historic, recreational, and cultural value.
To receive a designation, a river segment must be at least five miles in length and be publicly accessible. The designation request must be initiated by the local government and evaluated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) on 14 criteria that include aesthetic appeal, recreational access, water quality, and habitat.