On April 11, 2022, an 8.8 mile stretch of the North Fork, from Chapman’s Landing in Edinburg to the northern border of Seven Bends State Park was officially designated a Virginia State Scenic River by the VA General Assembly. Friends of the North Fork, Shenandoah County, and Seven Bends State Park coordinated efforts in applying for this special status in 2020. After a lengthy evaluation, Virginia’s Department and Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Board of Directors unanimously voted, in December 2020, to support the scenic river designation for this stretch.
The Scenic Rivers Act (the Act), found in Title 10.1, Chapter 4, § 10.1-400 through 10.1-418.1 of the Code of Virginia, was enacted in 1970 as a means of recognizing the Commonwealth’s scenic rivers and their immediate environs. In order to be eligible for Scenic River designation, a river must contain “superior natural and scenic beauty, fish and wildlife, and historic, recreational, geologic, cultural, and other assets.”
The Virginia Scenic River designation accomplishes the following:
Allows riparian landowners to continue using their land as they did before designation,except as provided in §10.1-407 (§10.1- 408),
Gives riparian landowners, local citizens, and local governments a greater voice in the planning and implementation of federal and state projects that might affect the river
Requires all state agencies to consider visual, natural, and recreational values of a Scenic River in their planning and permitting process
Requires authorization by the General Assembly for the construction, operation and/or maintenance of any structure, such as a dam, that would impede the natural flow of a Scenic River
Requires the Federal Energy Commission (FERC) to consider the impact of proposed hydropower or related projects on a designated Scenic River using the Scenic River report developed in the qualification process