Volunteers to help clean up Pocahontas State Park after severe damage from storm

Volunteers to help clean up Pocahontas State Park

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Leaders with Pocahontas State Park are calling for help in cleaning up damage from the heavy rain and flooding on August 15.

Rangers said the park received nearly 10 inches of rain in a matter of 12 hours.

This caused severe flooding and damage in the park – particularly the trail system and the area of the Swift Creek Lake.

While the park has sustained damage in previous storms, rangers said this was quite different.

“A lot of erosion from so much water happening in such a short period of time,” said Clark Jones, the Mountain Bike Trail Manager with the park.

Jones built nearly every mountain bike trail in the state park. However, a vast majority are now closed due to that erosion.

“We have 45 miles of single track here at Pocahontas and I would say maybe half – they all got impacted in one way or another, but there are various degrees of how they were impacted,” Jones said.

Mountain bike trails are closed for the time being; orange tape is strung across the trails.

However, there is a plan to clean up the damage.

“The volunteer community, they’ve done a lot to help over the years,” Jones said. “That’s through Friends of Pocahontas [State Park], rvaMORE, RVA Trail Report.” Those groups have put out the call for volunteers to gather Saturday, August 22 to help clear the easiest damage along the trails and lake.

“Cleaning drains, raking debris off of the trails and then documenting any damage that actually requires a specific fix,” Jones said.

However, the Swift Creek Lake floodplain area saw severe damage as well.

“Where we have our boat ramp, our boat rental facilities and a large fishing area footbridge, that was heavily impacted,” said Kevin Faubion, Assistant Park Manager of Operations at the park.

Faubion said two visitor vehicles were flooded, and the boat rental facilities were washed away.

“The buildings down there just floated downstream,” he added. “It snapped off all our canoe racks. We were able to locate about 2/3 of our canoes and kayaks, but several of those are missing downstream. We’ve got paddle boats in trees, and then below the dam itself where the water was very high, we’ve got probably dozens of life jackets hanging from the trees where they were deposited.”

There are two time frames for volunteer work on Saturday:

  • 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Trail assessments/repairs along with a group who will scout the lake for debris
  • 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Trail assessments/repairs along with a group who will scout the lake for debris

“We’ll have a group getting out on the water in boats to retrieve those kayaks and boats, canoes, life jackets and paddles that have been washed downstream,” Faubion said.

To sign up to volunteer, click here.

However, this is not the only weekend clean up events will take place.

“Moving forward every weekend, that’s going to continue,” Faubion said. “[Jones] is going to keep the groups moving, get the trails back in working order… there’s a great sense of achievement to say I got this trail back up and running and now I’m enjoying it with my friends.”

Some of the mountain bike trails that were not severely impacted could open as soon as next week, according to Jones.

To view the trails that are currently closed, click here.

Volunteers are asked to gather at the Swift Creek parking lot (7298 Courthouse Rd, Chesterfield, VA) and the Loop Forest parking lot (7296 Courthouse Rd, Chesterfield, VA).

Attendees are asked to bring work gloves, sturdy work shoes, face masks and water.

The park is open, but nearby roads may have closures that impact access to the area.

The park is open but please watch for signage showing closed areas. The boat ramp/launch and boat rentals are...

Posted by Pocahontas State Park on Monday, August 17, 2020

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