Did you know the Rappahannock River is the longest free flowing river in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed? Flowing 195 miles, it is home to a diverse aquatic ecosystem, provides recreation for people all over and a beautiful scenic view. Friends of the Rappahannock is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, educating and improving the river pollution problems facing the Rappahannock River every day. They strive to make a cleaner river so that we, along with the riparian habitants, can have a safe and cleaner environment. As this week’s Friday Focus, we reached out to Nick Cadwallender, Development Coordinator for Friends of the Rappahannock, to learn more about their organization and how they work to make a difference.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
A: Friends of the Rappahannock is the voice and active force for a healthy and scenic Rappahannock River. We advocate for a cleaner river by engaging stakeholders in developing solutions to river pollution problems. We lead restoration projects of degraded areas that cause pollution by bringing the community together through grassroots action. We invest in educating the next generation of river stewards. More than 6,000 students attend our educational programs annually.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: There are two seminal moments in the advocacy efforts of Friends of the Rappahannock. The first was on February 23, 2004 when the Embrey Dam was removed, making the Rappahannock the longest free flowing river in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. For the first time in over 100 years migratory shad and herring were able to spawn in traditional grounds in the headwaters of the river.
The second was January 11, 2011 when the City of Fredericksburg placed 4,232 acres of riparian land in permanent conservation easement. The easement will forever protect the river health and beauty for future generations to enjoy. Friends of the Rappahannock worked with numerous stakeholders over many years to bring about these two important conservation efforts.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Our biggest challenge is to fund the growing demand for our education and restoration resources in a community that continues to explode in population. The generous support of communities along the river is increasingly important as development and population crowd our precious natural resources.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: Saturday, June 4 at Old Mill Park Rock, The River FXB 2016 combines activities from various communities who benefit from , are inspired by and enjoy their time on the Rappahannock River. They can participate in adventures such as foot races, multi sports on the river and other outdoor activities. Participation will include adults, kids, as well as furry friends. Unique art and crafts will be displayed, enjoyment of the best local craft beer, tasty food and live music all day.
Saturday, September 17, RiverFest 2016. Come and save the river while enjoying live music, all you can eat crabs, beer, fried catfish and hush puppies, live silent auctions and boat rides.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: Friends of the Rappahannock has lots of volunteer opportunities including tree plantings, river cleanups and hands on river bank restoration projects. Community groups, school groups, church groups and businesses are welcome to join us for these many opportunities.