Partners from the Dan River Basin Association, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Martinsville-Henry County EDC’s Tourism Office, and representatives from Franklin County gathered Sunday afternoon for the official opening of the Philpott Lake Blueway with a celebratory bell ringing.
The Philpott Lake Blueway is a system of water trails easily accessible from surrounding parks, boat launches, and campgrounds; covering parts of Henry, Franklin, and Patrick Counties. The Blueway is designed primarily for non-motorized craft like canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards, but any boater can utilize the water routes. The informational signage recently installed at each of the nine access points around the lake, are reference maps for boaters to guide them from one location to the next, with distances and suggested routes to scenic hotspots to discover!
Brian Williams, Dan River Basin Association, says, “The Blueway is a series of suggested routes, a water trail, that provide boaters with information allowing them to plan day trips to suggested sites accessible from each launch. Some of these sites are not well known and we designed the routes to help people navigate the lake and find those destinations and routes.”
Remarks were given by Christopher Powell, Director of Operations for Philpott Lake, who spoke about his appreciation for the partnerships that made this project possible.
Craig (Rocky) Rockwell, former Director of Operations for Philpott Lake, gave a brief history of the project and the importance of partnerships. He said, “We have seen the increase in tourism and in particular the rise in the number of paddle crafts at our campgrounds and lake access sites. This Blueway will help guide lake users and draw more people to the lake knowing they have destinations to reach, and encourages people to get out and safely explore the lake.”
Tim Tatum, with the Franklin County Board of Supervisors, recalled his family roots growing up along the shores of Philpott Lake and appreciated that what seemed to always be our little secret here in Southwest Virginia, is no longer a secret and no longer just for motorized craft.
Issac Sarver, Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) spoke on the importance of water access to our tourism economy and pointed out that each year they gather survey data to help create the Virginia Outdoors Plan. This data shows a dramatic increase of survey respondents asking for more water access for both lakes and rivers.
Brian Williams of the Dan River Basin Association thanked the partners for the collaborative project and helping to create the first official Blueway in our region. He said, “We are seeing more and more users with not only destinations to visit, but also travel tines and safety tips. Water trails are becoming increasingly popular and now we have our very own right here on one of the most beautiful lakes in Virginia.”
Assistant Director of Tourism, Beth Stinnett, added “We hope that this project helps get more people out and the water and gives them that confidence that they may have been missing to do so. Philpott is beautiful, but you have to be out there -on the water- to truly appreciate the magnitude. We hope to see you out on the water soon!”
The ceremony concluded with the traditional bell ringing to christen the new Blueway water trail.
Philpott Lake Blueway partners include: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Dan River Basin Association, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, the Virginia Master Naturalists, and the Tourism Offices of Henry, Patrick, and Franklin Counties.