Our Story

Pictured above: Appomattox River west of Campbell’s bridge (Fleet Street)

THE NATURAL AND CONSERVATION SIGNIFICANCE OF THE APPOMATTOX RIVER IS ENORMOUS. Situated in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and a major tributary of the James River, the Appomattox River is a source of drinking water for the surrounding communities and the corridor falls within the priority area of the Governor of Virginia’s Conserve Virginia strategy which identifies land having the highest conservation value for the state.   The lower portion flows in an easterly direction across the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of south central Virginia from the Brasfield Dam at Lake Chesdin to its confluence with the James River in Hopewell.  It meanders through six jurisdictions: the Counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Prince George, and the Cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg; and is a valuable resource for commerce, industry, farming and recreation.

         The lower Appomattox is part of the Atlantic Flyway and the Coastal Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. The Appomattox also provides nesting, feeding and stop-over grounds for migrating birds and waterfowl. Wildlife that inhabits the river corridor of the lower Appomattox include beavers, muskrats and deer as well as song birds, herons, wood ducks and eagles.

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THE CENTRAL MISSION OF FOLAR is to conserve and protect the Appomattox River for all to enjoy, the means to this end focuses on a bigger picture that involves developing awareness, cooperation, community support and public policy, and the overall economic strength of the region.
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In keeping with its mission, the FOLAR works collaboratively to build and strengthen partnerships and strategies to:
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o Develop, maintain, and protect the Appomattox River Regional Greenway-Blueway Corridor, a 20+ mile waterway and trail system that includes 7 boat access points, 10 miles of riverside trails and 11 riverside parks. Our priority focus as a means to improved conservation, is the growth of the Appomattox River Trail (ART) as guided by the Appomattox River Trail Master Plan, developed through a generous grant from The Cameron Foundation.
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o Devote resources to protecting water quality and to land conservation; organize regular regional river cleanup campaigns.
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o Promote economic growth and healthy lifestyles through tourism and recreation programs. Support programming to expand regional education and environmental stewardship and offer the FOLAR Environmental Stewardship Scholarship in partnership with the John Randolph Foundation.

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HISTORY OF FOLAR – 20 years supporting our community and environent

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.

2000: Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) began as an all-volunteer group as an outcome of recommendations from a study that addressed a variety of growing water resource issues, commissioned by the Crater Planning District Commission (CPDC).
2001: The group incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit organization: .
2010: 10+ years on, the volunteers had successfully provided $2.5 million in improvements to park areas and river access points including about 10-miles of unconnected rustic trail at each location.
2014: Regionwide strategic planning determined that the community overwhelmingly wanted FOLAR to make its highest priority the completion of the Appomattox River Trail as a world-class regional trail system.
2015: FOLAR hired its first staff executive director to strengthen operations, increase fundraising.
2017: Master Plan completed to guide development of the Appomattox River Trail system as an accessible, multi-use, by-way for transportation and recreation. Funded through a generous grant from The Cameron Foundation
2018: FOLAR Regional Trails Program Director position was created to focus on trail and signage development and related conservation and educational programming activities.
2019: Master Plan implementation in progress in sections through public-private partnerships.

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The FOLAR Board of Directors includes appointed and interested community members from the six service area jurisdictions as well as representative of Virginia State University, National Park Service, Crater Region Planning District Commission, business/industry, and other relevant sectors.

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In 2016  The Friends of Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) Scholarship was established through a generous contribution from the Victor and Reiko Liu Charitable Fund. Through the FOLAR Environmental Stewardship Scholarship program, we enable talented and committed students to develop as community leaders with the skills necessary to make positive changes to their future communities.

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PARTNERSHIPS – The core of FOLAR’s work

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.

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MEET THE FOLAR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

 

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.

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Click here to see the FOLAR Bylaws.

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FOLAR STAFF:

Wendy Austin 
Executive Director
(804) 543-0325
WAustin@folar-va.org

Heather Barrar
Regional Trails Program Director
(804) 512-4486
HBarrar@folar-va.org

Kiffy Werkheiser
Development Director
(804) 928-6362
KWerkheiser@folar-va.org

FOLAR BOARD MEETING SCHEDULE:
THIRD Wednesday of even months (February, April, June, August, October, and December) at 5:00PM at the Crater Planning District Commission,
1964 Wakefield Street, Petersburg, VA 23805.  Public welcome.

  • April 21, 2021 – Virtual

    June 16, 2021 – Virtual 

    August 18, 2021 – TBD

    October 20, 2021 – TBD

    December 22, 2021 – TBD

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IN MEMORIUM

Eloise B. Ward

FOLAR lost a well loved and highly respected past board member with the passing of Eloise Ward on October 1, 2020. Eloise’s contributions were transformational in helping us meet our mission, especially the many hours she dedicated to helping with the River Clean-ups, RiverFest, and Paddle-or-Battle. Eloise served FOLAR as a representative of Colonial Heights and C.H.A.R.T. S. with integrity and passion. We at FOLAR will deeply miss Eloise and her enthusiastic support. READ obituary here.

Crater Planning District Commission

National Park Service