ROCKFORD — Officials cut the ribbons on two new canoe access points on the Fisher River on Wednesday.
Surry County Parks and Recreation Director Daniel White said after Wednesday’s ceremony new canoe access points at Bray Ford Road and Hamlin Road on the Fisher River are now officially open to the public for use.
What’s more, White said not one dime of the costs came from the county’s coffers.
“(The N.C.) Wildlife (Resources Commission) completely funded the construction,” said White.
White explained that once the county entered into a memorandum of agreement with the state agency, the Wildlife Commission designed the access points, applied for the appropriate permits and completed the construction.
“They have a team of talented individuals,” said White, noting that they actual construction work on the sites took less than seven work days.
The county’s end of the deal is it will maintain the facilities, said White.
The Bray Ford and Hamlin Ford access points are much smaller than other points such as Burch Station, which is located on the Yadkin River at the mouth of the Mitchell River, according to White.
The access at Bray Ford has about 10 parking spaces and includes a sidewalk which leads to the river, said White. There are rails on which a canoe or kayak can be placed and slid to the river. After that, the access point uses a natural sandbar to provide access to the river.
White said Hamlin Ford has only two parking spaces, and a trail leads to the river. It, too, has rails on which a person can slide a boat. Both of the new sites have a turn-around point for use by commercial paddling companies and private paddlers.
Doug and Hannah Hollyfield donated the property for the Bray Ford point, and White said the Hamlin Ford site is located in a right of way.
The county already contains a number of paddling access points, according to White. Surry County operates one point on the Mitchell River and the Burch Station access. Fisher River Park can be used as a third access point for the Fisher River, and the city of Mount Airy has two access points on the Ararat River. Elkin also operates a canoe access point on the Yadkin.
White said the Fisher River can make for an enjoyable alternative to the larger Yadkin River.
“It’s a beautiful little river,” said White, noting the large cliffs and flowers that are visible in certain seasons.
White said his department, through its relationships with the Wildlife Commission and other entities, is on a continuing mission to make the county’s natural resources readily accessible.
“Providing these public access points is important to give people the opportunity to enjoy our county’s wonderful natural resources,” said White.
These resources aren’t just used by county residents, however. Citing a 2008 study, White said the average paddler who stays overnight for a trip in Surry County injects more than $500 into the local economy.
White said the county isn’t complete with its work in building a paddling infrastructure in Surry County. His department is eyeing an additional location on the Yadkin River, which has been a state water trail since 1985. A public access point in the Rockford area would compliment access points at Burch Station, Pilot Mountain State Park and one at N.C. 601 operated by Yadkin County.
Additionally, White said his department is working toward garnering a foothold on the Ararat River. Any access points would be down river from the two operated by Mount Airy.
“We are always communicating with landowners in an effort to expand our paddling and floating infrastructure,” said White.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.