RIVER RANT: Should Pipeline, heron rookery be kept a secret?

Great Blue Heron rookery at Pipeline Rapids WalkwayIf you have ever been to the Pipeline Rapids Walkway in spring and early summer, the Great Blue Heron rookery is amazing. It is a great example of the health of the James River in downtown Richmond and a fantastic place to watch the beauty of nature year-round. But some have complained that it needs fewer people visiting, not more. There is a proposal in the 2007 Downtown Master Plan that would have a boardwalk build beneath the double-track CSX viaduct to replace the existing narrow metal catwalk. Should there be more access to this area or is the current structure enough? Should the area remain one of downtown Richmond’s best kept secrets?

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6 responses to “RIVER RANT: Should Pipeline, heron rookery be kept a secret?

  1. I’ve been sharing this secret for years. There are two main problems with the pipeline walkway.

    1. It is inaccessible for many. The runged ladder obviates use for most elderly, handicapped and less fit folks. My wife, parents and friends with bad knees (me sometimes) just won’t or can’t go. For those who don’t want others to share, I say well, … I won’t say now, but they are selfish elitist who really don’t want to make the river accessible to all, despite their many protestation. A boardwalk and no go zones would alleviate some of the potential damage of overuse.

    2. It is a legal liability to the park and city. The current pipeline rails and grates were not made for general use. Also a portion of the “trail” is flooded during high water. I’ve been on a guided tour with children (not mine) wading through swirling water. By encouraging the public to use this walkway, the parks assumes a responsibility. An upgraded boardwalk would go a long ways towards helping.

    The park and its supporters need to do much more to make the river accessible to the general public, not just the fitness and outdoor crowd.

  2. I think it should be kept secret. There are already people starting to hang out down there drinking and trashing the place. That has already happened at Pony Pasture and Belle. I would like to paddle and hike in the park without seeing drunks/drugs and people exposing themselves and having sex in plain view. Where are the police?

  3. I think you could make the argument that the more legitimate users you have in the park, the less frequently you would see behavior like Alice mentioned. I was at Pony Pasture last weekend and was amazed by the lack of trash and general feel of the crowd there. Belle Isle north isn’t too bad anymore either. It’s the more remote areas like the South side of Belle Isle and 42nd street that see the party crowds trashing the park.

  4. leave pipeline alone! not m any more places like it.

  5. I’ve been down on this catwalk many times and love that I usually have it to myself. The problem with making it a boardwalk would be that too many people might ruin the serenity. Spending millions to spruce it up and make it “legal” for insurance is a cop-out. I say leave it and let’s enjoy it in moderation.

  6. “Spending millions(?) to spruce it up and make it “legal” for insurance is a cop-out”

    It’s only a cop out till you get sued. Then nobody gets to use it.

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