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TideWriters Tales
Beaverdam Park-An Outdoor Treasure~Part II
By Hugh Davis

     Hugh resumes his interview with Chris Smith, the manager of Beaverdam Park 

"If your favorite outdoor activities are fishing, canoeing or boating," Chris continued, "Beaverdam Park has much to offer. As I said, boats, canoes, paddle boats and electric motors can be rented at the Roaring Springs Road entrance. Or, if you want to use your own equipment, you can purchase a daily launch permit, usable only at the Roaring Springs entrance, or an annual launch permit, usable at both entrances. Gasoline engines can't be used on the lake. However, if you have one mounted on your boat, you must disconnect it from the fuel tank.

     There are nominal fees to rent canoes, jon boats and jon boats with electric motors and a battery. There are daily launching fees for canoes and for boats as well as annual launch permits for canoes and boats. Boats and canoes launched at the Fary's Mills Road entrance have to have an annual launching permit, since that entrance is not manned by park personnel."

     Chris said channel catfish, large mouth bass, crappie and various species of sunfish are the most popular game fish in the reservoir. "People can fish from boats and canoes, the shore line and from the fishing pier at the Roaring Springs Road entrance. 

     “Fishermen have been bringing in some nice catches lately. Some of the bigger fish caught recently include one bass that was more than nine pounds and 23.4 inches long, three other bass more than eight pounds and about a dozen that were a little less than eight pounds. No citation crappie or catfish were caught in March, but a catfish was brought in that weighed just over nine pounds, and several crappie weighing more than a pound have been weighed in. 

     “Members of the park staff have no law enforcement authority. We report serious or repeated violations of our rules to the Sheriff’s Department. Game wardens from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries visit the lake from time to time to be sure all fishing and boating regulations are being followed."
The park provides a home to many species of wildlife. Chris listed deer, possums, raccoons, cottontail rabbits, gray and red foxes, mink, river otters, beaver and muskrats, among the mammals that may be seen in the park. 

     The most visible wildlife are, of course, the birds. I personally have seen or heard Canada geese, black ducks, mallards, wood ducks, laughing and ring-billed gulls, great blue and green herons, great egrets, wild turkeys, bald eagles, ospreys, belted kingfishers, six species of woodpecker and a host of other woodland species which commonly winter or nest in this area. In addition to wild birds, there are numerous domestic ducks and geese and half-wild Canada geese that beg for bread and other handouts near the two entrances. Besides these, twelve semi-wild mute swans now add touch of elegant beauty to the lake. These are all descended from a single pair that was introduced to the park and raised their first brood in 1999. One pair is now nesting within sight of the Fary's Mill Road bridge over the reservoir. 

     Less appealing to some people, there are quite a few snakes in the park. However, the only poisonous species is the copperhead. The northern water snake is relatively common and frequently mistaken for the poisonous cottonmouth or water moccasin. The northern water snake, while somewhat aggressive, is not poisonous. Other reptilian species include several species of aquatic turtles and land terrapins.
Even with all the opportunities for outdoor recreation that are available at Beaverdam Park, Chris and the Gloucester County Parks and Recreation Department have ambitious plans for further development. One project that is underway now and which Chris says should be open shortly is an interpretive trail along the shore of the East Fork. The trail will be primarily for use by school and youth groups. Signs along the way would be keyed to a brochure that explains what the students are to see and learn at each position.
Other long range plans include a fitness trail from the main entrance to the Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center on Route 17, another trail from the main entrance to the Gloucester Courthouse Historic District, a nature trail to the dam and finally, extending the multi-purpose trail down the south and west sides of the lake, back to the dam. This would lengthen the multi-purpose trail to about 20 miles.

     To reach the ranger station and main entrance to Beaverdam park, as you head south on US 17, pass Riverside-Walter Reed-Hospital and turn left on Business Route 17 into Gloucester Courthouse. After you pass St. Therese Catholic Church and the Pocahontas statue, turn left again onto Roaring Springs Road (Route 616.) Go about two and a half miles and drive straight into the parking lot. To use the Fary's Mill Road entrance, as you head South on Route 17, turn left on Fary's Mill Road (Route 606) at Ark. After about two and a half miles, cross a short bridge over Beaverdam Swamp, as it enters the reservoir, and immediately turn right into the park.

     To learn more about the park or for specific questions, you may call the ranger station at 804-693-2107 or send e-mail to csmith@co.gloucester.va.us

© 2001 Hugh Davis. All rights reserved.

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