The Smith River has long been a destination for paddlers, hikers and fishermen and now it’s easier than ever to access and enjoy thanks to partnerships that help develop Henry County’s newest recreation and tourism project, The Smith River Blueway. A public dedication at the Great Road River Access was held to celebrate the completion of this milestone in outdoor recreation for the community.
Henry County officials and board members were joined by representatives from Henry County Parks and Recreation, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation tourism division, the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, the Dan River Basin Association, the Army Corp of Engineers, Eastman Chemical, and local river enthusiast for the event. “The Henry County Board of Supervisors recognizes the importance of having quality recreational opportunities for our citizens and we value the significance of tourism. The Smith River Blueway is a wonderful amenity for both our residents and visitors to our community to enjoy” said Jim Adams, Chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
The Smith River Blueway is an official water trail helping river users have a safe and enjoyable experience by providing access ramps, informational signage, and brochures. Large brightly colored signs with the Blueway logo are installed at each access point providing estimated times and distances to the next take out point and safety tips on the front while the back side has the access name clearly is visible from the river. The brochures contain a map, river info and the river access locations. “There are eleven river access points along the River, but a lot of people may not realize where they are or what they are,” said Roger Adams, Henry County Director of Parks and Recreation. “The maps, brochures, and signage will help boaters find and navigate to the best spots on the river.”
The Blueway project also will help raise awareness of the Smith River as a recreational destination and an important environmental resource, while providing navigational information, and make getting on and off the water easier. “Being able to experience the river firsthand instead of just driving over a bridge and looking at it is just one reason the Blueway is important,” said Brian Williams, Project Manager with the Dan River Basin Association. “People using a resource are more likely to protect it when they learn about it. The Blueway is not just about paddling or fishing, it’s about education and conservation.”
Henry County Parks and Recreation, The Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) and MHC Tourism partnered to bring the vision to reality. Henry County began installing the actual river access locations through a partnership with the Parks and Recreation department and PSA with assistance from DRBA over 10 years ago and now there are officially 11 locations for launching canoes, kayaks or just fishing and picnicking and just enjoy the beauty of the river. “The Smith River Blueway is a popular tourist attraction for Martinsville-Henry County, and its popularity among boaters and fisherman continues to grow. Now with the activation of the Blueway signage, maps and brochures, the Smith River is even more tourist-friendly. We look forward to meeting more out-of-town visitors who make our community an exciting outdoor recreational hub.” – Beth Stinnett, Martinsville Henry County Tourism office.
Additional information about the Smith River Blueway Project is available on the County website at www.henrycountyva.gov.