Rappahannock among America’s most endangered rivers

The Rappahannock River, which begins as a trickle outside Chester Gap and empties wide and deep into the Chesapeake Bay, was named this week one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers.

The Rappahannock received the designation by the conservation group American Rivers because of the threat fracking could pose to clean drinking water.

“County and state leaders must act now in order to ensure that the Rappahannock River and the state’s clean water supplies are protected from irreversible harm by any future fracking operations,” says the group’s Jessie Thomas-Blate.

There are presently 85,000 acres in four counties downstream from Rappahannock County leased for oil and gas development and hydraulic fracturing.

American Rivers and its partners are calling on residents and local governments in Westmoreland, Essex, Caroline, and King and Queen counties to decide whether the new industry “has a place in their communities” and then establish local land use ordinances to protect the Rappahannock and its tributaries.

“We encourage local citizens and officials to think long and hard about if, or how, they will allow fracking in their backyards,” said Kristin Davis, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

In addition, American Rivers is calling on the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate to uphold Virginia’s new drilling regulations that help protect rivers and clean drinking water from industrial gas development.

America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2017:

1: Lower Colorado River (Arizona, California, Nevada)

2: Bear River (California)

3: South Fork Skykomish (Washington)

4: Mobile Bay Rivers (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi)

5: Rappahannock River (Virginia)

6: Green-Toutle River (Washington)

7: Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers (North Carolina)

8: Middle Fork Flathead River (Montana)

9: Buffalo National River (Arkansas)

10: Menominee River (Michigan, Wisconsin)

About John McCaslin 466 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.

1 Comment

  1. The threat of industrial fracking earns the Rappahannock River #5 ranking on America’s Most Endangered Rivers. Thank you to Friends of the Rappahannock for raising awareness of this threat.

    Shore Exploration has leased over 80,000 acres for fracking. But ironically, the biggest threat to the Rappahannock does not come from land leased for fracking – the biggest threat comes from conservation easements!

    Three Virginia Outdoors Foundation conservation easements in Essex County specifically allow oil and gas exploration, extraction, mining, and/or fracking right next to the Rappahannock River!

    The Blandfield Plantation easement allows 88 oil wells and 24 gas wells, and fracking fluid storage.

    The Beverly Marsh easement allows “extraction of oil and gas” in a pristine tidal marsh.

    The Kendale Farm easement was amended twice to allow “oil and gas mining” and “the right to explore for and extract oil and gas.”

    The owner of two of these easements is a Director of the Essex County Countryside Alliance. The other owner is friends with the President of the Essex County Countryside Alliance (who just happened to be on the Board of Trustees of Virginia Outdoors Foundation when it approved the 88 oil wells and 24 gas wells in the easement).

    Other conservation easements PROHIBIT industrial oil and gas operations. Is there any reason that Virginia Outdoors Foundation and these landowners won’t amend these conservation easements to PROHIBIT fracking next to the Rappahannock River?


    Terrell Bowers

    Bowers owns part of Fones Cliffs directly across the river from these easements.

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