The proposed greenway network for Nelson County (Figure 5) is designed to capitalize on the County’s abundant natural resources, scenic viewsheds, and eco-tourism potential. The conceptual greenway corridors developed for Nelson county uses primarily river corridors, ridgelines, and an overhead transmission line corridor. Unlike the other counties in the region, Nelson County has no gas pipeline
corridors. Based on citizen and county input, greenways were developed to meet the following local goals:
Ø For increased recreational and tourism opportunities, provide connections to key destination points and attractions including:
§ George Washington National Forest, Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, the Blue Ridge Rail Trail, Lesesne State Forest, and the Appalachian Trail;
§ Local wineries and orchards;
§ Historic sites such as Oak Ridge, churches, and historic markers;
§ Scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Rockfish River, Tye River, and James River;
§ Local business such as Bed and Breakfast’s, antique stores, etc.
Ø Develop greenways for open space preservation and stream protection.
Ø Provide connections to communities and community facilities in the population centers of Nelson: Routes 6 and 151, Route 29 corridor, Lovingston, and Wintergreen.
The conceptual greenway network developed for Nelson County is summarized below.
James River Corridor
Forming the southern border of the County, the James flows from southwest to northeast, meandering considerably throughout its length. Multiple boat landings make the river accessible at various locations, and in many ways the river is an active blueway. The James is a valuable recreational, scenic, and tourism resource. Canoeing and fishing are especially popular on the River.
To enhance this resource, a greenway is proposed for the entire length of the River in Nelson County. The James River Greenway would connect Nelson to Albemarle County, and would link to the James River Wildlife Management Area located in the southeast section of the County. Significantly, the River would tie Nelson directly to the developing regional Greenway framework.
Rockfish River Corridor
The North and South Forks of the Rockfish River converge near the intersection of Routes 6 and 151; from there, the River continues south to the James River, traversing Route 29 at the Hurricane Camille/Nelson County Wayside at Woods Mill. In addition to its scenic beauty, a portion of the South Fork is a stocked trout stream.
As shown on the Greenway Plan, the River’s location adjacent to primary roads offers linkage to key attractions such as wineries, bed and breakfast operations, and schools. The section running east-west along Route 151 is situated within a broad floodplain that holds strong potential for development of a linear greenway with trails. The conceptual greenway would enhance recreational opportunities, connecting to many destinations. In the northeast corner of the County, an abandoned roadbed could potentially be used to connect to the Appalachian Trail.
Tye River/Piney River/Blue Ridge Rail Trail Corridor
The Tye River flows south from the County’s northern border to the James River, and is joined in its course by Piney River, which forms a portion of Nelson’s western border. Sections of the Tye are home to wild trout populations, while another section is stocked. Linking the two rivers, the Blue Ridge Rail Trail is currently being developed on an abandoned rail line as previously described.
As the Rockfish River does in the eastern portion of the County, the greenway system formed by the Tye, the Piney, and the Blue Ridge Rail Trail spans the western edge of Nelson from north to south. Also like the Rockfish, this system provides key connections in addition to recreational opportunities. Crabtree falls, the George Washington National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, orchards, and the James River are key destinations along the greenway.
A small greenway spur connecting the Montebello Fish Hatchery to the Appalachian Trail would provide a critical link, and offer an alternate means of accessing the hatchery.
Central County Connector
A series of streams in the center of the County would provide connection from the Nelson County Wayside at Woods Mill to the Tye River near its confluence with the James. Relying primarily on Davis Creek, Dillard Creek, and Rucker Run, this conceptual greenway would link to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation Conservation Easement at Woods Mountain and to Lovingston. The corridor also passes close to Oak Ridge, a historic site in the south-central portion of Nelson.
Hawkins/Findlay Mountain and Utility Corridors
Hawkins Mountain and Findlay Mountain form a narrow linear ridgeline in the southern section of the County, offering potential scenic viewshed opportunities on either side of the ridge. Running parallel to the ridgeline, and extending the corridor to the northeast is a utility easement with overhead transmission lines. By utilizing these features in combination (or as alternates), connection could be made from the Tye River to Walton’s Mountain Museum and Schuyler Elementary School on the County’s eastern border.