By Officer Lee Sillitoe
Watershed Property Manager
Plan Ahead & Prepare
- Know Before You Go. Check the weather forecast and water levels before your trip. Stay updated on changing conditions at www.riverfriends.org. River levels greater than the following indicated levels are considered unsafe:
– Fredericksburg gage: 3.2 ft
– Remington gage: 5 ft
– Culpeper gage: 4 ft
- Consider taking a weather radio and watch the weather during your trip. Upstream thunderstorms can cause the river to rise rapidly.
- Use a river map to plan the trip (www.riverfriends.org).
- If you are cold, wet, hungry, or dehydrated you will be preoccupied with your own discomfort and disregard impacts you might be making to the environment. An environmentally responsible outing starts with gathering all the information and equipment you need to keep yourself safe and comfortable.
- Avoid spreading invasive species by cleaning shoes and equipment, to remove hitchhiking weeds, seeds and other plant materials.
Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Camp on existing campsites. Consult the Rappahannock Water Trail Map and Guide for campsite locations.
- At campsites, focus activity where vegetation is absent.
- When hiking, walk single file down center of trail (even when muddy) to protect vegetation.
- Leave your campsite cleaner than when you arrived.
Dispose of Waste Properly
- Pack it in, pack it out!
- Use a portable camping toilet to pack out human waste, toilet paper, and tampons or dispose of human waste by depositing it in a hole 12 inches deep, and at least 100 feet from any waterway.
- For guidance on proper methods of disposing waste, visit Leave No Trace at www.LNT.org
- Don’t throw trash in river, on land, or leave at campsite.
Leave What You Find
- Appreciate historical structures like locks, dams, and mill foundations, by leaving them undisturbed.
- Do not build structures or dig trenches in campsites.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Consider using a camp stove for cooking and use existing fire rings for campfires.
- Collect firewood from driftwood debris piles, rather than from the forest.
- Consider bringing your own firewood or charcoal.
- Burn all wood to ash. Extinguish fires completely with water.
- Pack out any campfire litter. Never burn trash.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Never follow or approach animals.
- Never feed wildlife. Store food and trash securely, preferably in a strapped cooler.
- Keep pets on a leash or leave them at home. Pack out their waste or bury in a hole 12 inches deep and at least 100 feet from any waterway.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Do not discharge firearms except for lawful hunting.
- Let nature’s sounds prevail.
Leave No Trace Fishing
- Do not discard monofilament fishing line in the river or on the riverbank – it is a danger to humans and wildlife.
- Use commercially available alternatives to lead sinkers. Lead sinkers pose a serious threat to birds that ingest the lead when eating fish.
- Do not spread non-native plants and animals. Never release live bait such as minnows, leeches, or worms into the river. Pack them out and dispose of them in the trash.