Conserving Earns Kudos in Virginia

An osprey in James City County eyes a visitor along the Capt. John Smith Water &  Auto Trail, the subject of an award.
An osprey in James City County eyes a visitor along the Capt. John Smith Water & Auto Trail, the subject of an award. (By Steve Helber -- Associated Press)
By Tara Bahrampour
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 16, 2006

Seeking to preserve the state's most attractive corners for future generations, Scenic Virginia gave out awards and honors this month for various conservation projects along mountains, rivers and byways.

The nonprofit organization, eight years old and based in Richmond, aims "to preserve, protect and enhance the scenic beauty and community character of the commonwealth." It started giving out the annual awards a few years ago.

Counties, cities, towns, organizations and individuals nominate projects that have preserved scenic spots or taken other steps to enhance them.

"We're really looking for the best of the best," said Leighton Powell, the organization's executive director. "It doesn't have to be the biggest project."

In the recent past, Scenic Virginia has given awards for the preservation of scenic views at Monticello and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Powell noted that the North Carolina segment of the parkway had a scenic designation for years. "They've pulled in more tourist dollars than the Virginia portion," he said, "and we're hoping that this will even it out."

Here's a rundown of this year's awards.

· Best Preservation of a Scenic Viewshed, to a group of public and private organizations that collaborated to buy 250 acres to prevent future development on the western ridge and the top of Tinker Mountain, in southern Botetourt and northern Roanoke counties. According to Scenic Virginia, it was the first successful effort of its kind in the Roanoke Valley.

· Best Preservation of a Scenic Water Corridor, to the City of Fredericksburg for protecting 4,200 acres along the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers from development.

· Scenic Hero, to Friends of the Rappahannock. The nonprofit organization was praised for two decades of work to promote the river and its tributaries. In recent years, the group successfully pushed for the removal of the Embrey Dam, making the Rappahannock the longest free-flowing river in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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