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River access is essential

Living in a rural area, much of the leisure time for citizens is spent outdoors. This time of year, many local fisherman are gearing up for warm spring days to enjoy a day at the lake or river and leisure boaters are ready to enjoy some quality fun in the sun.

In light of this, access to the Staunton River via the Clarkton Bridge Boat Ramp is essential for those who enjoy time on the river.

At a March meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, VDOT’s Preservation Program Manager Antony Opperman said “the county lease for the boat ramp has expired.” Additionally, the Clarkton Bridge Boat Ramp is the only boat ramp into the Staunton River in Charlotte County.

The Clarkton Bridge Boat Ramp is essential to the county for a multitude of reasons. As the only access point to the Staunton River in the county, the ramp could serve in capacity for river rescues. If the ramp is closed, there may not be an immediate way for rescue boats to access the river in the county.

Additionally, the annual Striped Bass tournament occurs each year, and local fisherman utilize the Clarkton Bridge Boat Ramp during this time.

If the boat ramp lease is not settled before the annual tournament, the Clarkton Bridge access will not legally be usable during the tournament.

Furthermore, citizens should be able to access the river for their own enjoyment at any given time.

Opperman said the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) agreed to construct and maintain a boat ramp on county owned or controlled property.

“So therefore, since that lease has expired, the only public access legally to the river is contained within our 30 foot existing right of way,” Opperman said.

Phenix/Red House Supervisor Donna Fore said DGIF sent a letter to the county recently requesting to get the agreement resolved.

Fore said that citizens should be able to have access to the river and I agree.

River access via the Clarkton Bridge Boat Ramp is an essential, yet important feature I hope will remain in the county for years to come.

Italia Gregory  is community editor of The Charlotte Gazette. Her email address is Italia.Gregory@TheCharlotteGazette.com.