Nature and Wildlife on Appomattox River

Balancing nature and wildlife of the Appomattox
0 Comments | Progress – Index, The; Petersburg, Va., Aug 13, 2006 | by T DEVON ROBINSON
Editor’s note: Today, The Progress-Index continues its series on the Appomattox River. Each Sunday through August 27, we will examine the many ways that people are connected to the river, from a historical perspective, a current viewpoint and a look to the future. This week: Wildlife and Friends of the Lower Appomattox River. Next week: Lake Chesdin and the Brasfield Dam.

Although the Appomattox River drove the economy of the Tri- Cities for over 300 years, it currently looks nearly untouched by humans.

Where mill wheels once churned, box elders and trumpet creepers dominate the shore. Where hogsheads of tobacco were once loaded, snowy egrets now perch and water moccasins slither.

Through the efforts of the Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) these wild sections will not only be preserved but also enhanced to provide more access.

FOLAR is in the process of establishing blueways (boat routes) and greenways (nature trails) on the river, which will tie into historic sites along the river, parks and established stops on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, said R. Steve Thomas, an Explorer Scout Troop leader and member of FOLAR.

In the Tri-Cities, the fall line area marks where the majority of costal birds cease traveling west. From near the Brasfield Dam down to the James River and beyond, it is possible to see great blue herons, Canada geese, bald eagles, osprey and snowy egrets. Just east of the confluence of the Appomattox and James rivers, a pair of rare peregrine falcons occupies a nest on the north tower of the Benjamin Harrison Bridge.

There are three designated stops on the trail along the river, Thomas said.

Point of Rocks Park in eastern Chesterfield County offers the opportunity to watch tidal birds along its establish trails near and in its tidal freshwater marsh.

The other river stops include the Appomattox River Boat Launch, accessible from the Chesterfield County side of the Brasfield Dam and the Appomattox Riverside Park.

Along with coastal birds, other birds native to non-coastal areas can be found in the wooded and freshwater areas along the river.

In the river is a wide variety of fish, according to a report from FOLAR. They include resident fish — such as bass, mackerel, catfish and carp — and herring and shad, which migrate to the fall line in the spring.

Along with birds and fish, there are small animals that live in the trees and shrubs in the area. Along the shore, it is possible to spot beavers, rabbits, raccoons and water snakes, Thomas said.

Although there are forests nearby, there is not real threat of coming across larger animals, such as a bear, along the river. The largest animal that may be found at the river is deer and even that is a rarity.

“They’d much rather be in your backyard or your garden,” Thomas said.

– T. DeVon Robinson may be reached at 722-5160.

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