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) was formed in 2000 by the volunteers who worked on the development plans. FOLAR is comprised of representatives appointed from the six stakeholder localities and Virginia State University.
In 2003 FOLAR volunteers started working on a development of a new riverside park, that is now known as Appomattox River Regional Park. The park is sixty acres with walking trails, pier, overlook, pavilion, and a kayak/canoe boat launch. To date FOLAR has established a number of trailheads and parks for public use. FOLAR members have also held numerous river clean-ups and participated with other organizations in events that promote environmental awareness.
The central mission of FOLAR is to conserve and protect the Lower Appomattox River, the means to this end focuses on a bigger picture that involves developing awareness, cooperation, community support, and overall economic growth of the region.
In keeping with its mission, FOLAR:
• Develops and maintains the Regional Greenway/ Blueway Heritage Trail, a 22 mile trail system with 7 boat access points, 12 miles of walkable riverside trails and 11 riverside parks – all of which FOLAR created, improved, or maintains through its network of volunteers and donors.
• Devotes resources to monitoring and protecting water quality and organizes regular regional river cleanup campaigns.
• Promotes tourism and economic development by providing marketing materials and events like the annual “Battle of Paddle'” and the new “RiverFest.”
• Provides programming to promote regional education and stewardship including educational videos, teacher guides, and outdoor youth programs.
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 built strong partnerships with 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 and Fish and Wildlife Federation. The list also consists of many private partnerships that include major and minor businesses.
The FOLAR board 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.
For more information about FOLAR, our board members, meetings, and public documents please see GET INVOLVED