CONTACT: Paula K. Jones (434) 856-8176 Sept. 6, 2005


LYNCHBURG – Along two miles of the South Fork of the Rockfish River in Nelson County, the land appears scarred and barren but things are, as we know., not always as they seem. The dump trucks, backhoes and bulldozers that have rumbled through this mostly peaceful area since early June are, in reality, there to make things better.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has been helping this stretch of the South Fork of the Rockfish River to return to a more natural state. In addition, the work has been done to offset damage done to several streams in Amherst County during the construction of the U. S. 29 Bypass of Madison Heights, as is permissible by regulation.

The goal of the approximately $1.4 million project is to lengthen and slow down the stream and to bring it back into one single channel. Over years the stream has been changed through various human actions and acts of nature. To improve what time has caused, crews have been busy laying back the slopes along some sections of the 11,000-foot project. In addition, vanes of large rock have been erected at various spots to create pools. These pools will help in times of flooding and serve as home for native fish.

Once this initial work is complete, VDOT and its contractor will prepare for the planting of about 22,000 native tree seedlings along the river banks to help stabilize the ground further and create a more natural area.

Over twenty area property owners participated in the program by allowing conservation easements. Many of the residents have taken an active interest in the project and have looked forward to seeing the changes that are creating the “new” river.

The Friends of the Rockfish Watershed and the Agelasto Family are offering tours of the Rockfish River restoration project on the Agelasto property and Phase One of the Rockfish Valley Loop Trail. The public is invited to join them at the intersection of Route 151 and the South Fork of the Rockfish River (1.5 miles south of Nellysford) in Nelson County on Saturday, September 17 between 10:00 a.m. and Noon or Sunday, September 18 between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.