In 1997 the National Park Service and the Crater Planning District Commission began a series of meetings to start the planning process for a development of an Appomattox River Corridor Plan. The Plan was funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program. As a result of the initial studies the cities of Petersburg, Colonial Heights and Hopewell together with the counties of Dinwiddie, Chesterfield and Prince George were identified as stakeholders along the lower Appomattox river. The meetings focused on addressing the public river access and in establishing a trail from lake Chesdin to Hopewell. This Greenway/Blueway plan concentrated on developing a 22.8 mile long trail that would become an access (on foot, by bike or boat) to the scenic Appomattox river to public.
The Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) that organized volunteers who started working on this project was formed in 2000. This organization is made up of representatives appointed from the six localities, the stakeholders and Virginia State University. Our mission is to protect and conserve the Appomattox river. To date FOLAR has established a number of trailheads for public use. FOLAR members have also held 15 river clean-ups, participated with other organizations in events that promote environmental awareness.
In 2003 a core group of FOLAR volunteers started working on a development of a new park, that is now known as Appomattox River Regional Park and has doubled in size within a four year period with a potential of having added 60% of it’s current acreage (30 more acres) this year. FOLAR meets bimonthly to establish goals and update members on progress of projects. It is an organization that consists of volunteers who are serious about the projects they take on that results in a good track record of a list of successfully completed assignments.
Additional positive characteristics of the work FOLAR does are numerous partnerships that have been developed over the time with different organizations and entities. FOLAR is or has partnered with some of the following organizations: The counties of Dinwiddie, Chesterfield and Prince George, also the cities of Petersburg, Colonial Heights and Hopewell, state agencies like Department of Conservation and Recreation, Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Forestry and Soil and Water Conservation Districts. It has also reached out and received support from some federal agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Park Service. Also several grant programs that include John Randolph and Cameron Foundations. At the local level FOLAR regularly partners with James River Association, Friends of Chesterfield Riverfront, and Fish and Wildlife Federation. The list also consists of many private partnerships that include major and minor businesses.