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Staunton scenic river bill advances

SoVaNow.com / February 10, 2020
An additional portion of the Staunton River is on track to become a Virginia Scenic River following action at the General Assembly in January.

House Bill 1601, introduced by Del. James Edmunds, calls for an 11.5 mile stretch of the Staunton to be designated a Virginia Scenic River. The House of Delegates passed the bill by an 88-9 vote on Jan. 28, sending the measure to the state Senate. Edmunds’ bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources.

If the Senate acts favorably and Gov. Ralph Northam signs the legislation, the entirety of the Staunton River in Halifax County will become a state scenic river.

Edmunds’ bill covers the portion of the Staunton from the U.S. Route 360 bridge near Clover to the Staunton River State Park boat landing in Scottsburg.

Scenic river designation does not carry any special protections against development of Virginia rivers, but it does provide a marketing boost for tourism purposes and highlights rivers’ cultural, environmental and scenic value.

The addition of the Staunton 11.5 mile stretch has attracted the support of the Virginia Conservation Network (VCN), which announced Friday a list of numerous bills it is prioritizing for passage in the 2020 session.

VCN bills itself as a powerful, diverse, and highly-coordinated conservation movement focused on protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources.

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Virginia State Scenic Rivers program, which was established in 1970 by then-governor Linwood Holton.

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