Cat Point Creek Watershed

Chesapeake Bay Foundation trip June 27, 2001

Find out how we conserve and protect the unspoiled beauty of our creek.  From the heart of the Northern Neck peninsula flows a hidden passageway to the Chesapeake Bay.   Cat Point Creek is 19.32 miles long and the watershed consists of 46,800 acres of hilly terrain that includes many farms, towns, streams, millponds and wetland estuaries. In the early 1980ís, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries constructed a dam at Chandlerís Mill Pond, near Montross.  See EPA EnviroMap for environmental information.   It makes its way to the Rappahannock River winding through Westmoreland and Richmond County from 170 feet of elevation down to 6 feet above sea level. 

We hope to share it with the generations to come through our activities and programs.  Please spread the word - your appreciation for natural beauty can help us increase public awareness.  We recognize the treasure we have, after your visit we hope you will too!

Photo by Hugh Markham

Water Clarity and Quality
Testing

photo by Hugh Markham

The citizens action committee clears debris to make a new water trail on Virginia's Northern Neck

Photo by Hugh Markham

Doug Fleet - Photo by Ray Petrie

Fishing is great on Cat Point Creek.  There are large expanses of unspoiled wetland habitat perfect for the Large Mouth Bass, Ring Perch, Crappie, Herring, Rockfish and Catfish.  Doug Fleet, a local Forestry Consultant, loves casting jigs by the shoreline.

Cat Point Creek is the home of Bald Eagles, Osprey, Blue Heron, Wood Ducks, Otter, Beaver and many varieties of salt and fresh water plants.

Menokin Bay is part of Cat Point Creek - Photo by Ray Petrie

 


Watershed Committee was formed

In 1995 our local RC&D office, The Tidewater Resource Conservation and Development, offered guidance and encouragement for our group. Concerned citizens and property owners within the watershed were gathered to express their knowledge and interests relating to the creek.   A steering committee took shape and the members arranged to have frequent meetings to decide how we could best shape the future of the creek.

We learned that the importance of developing a stewardship plan was critical because Cat Point Creek is ranked as a high priority watershed for non-point source pollution attributed to rural land use that occurs on highly leachable and erodible soils. Our mission was clear and the management plan that followed was a reflection of the diversity and creativity of the group.

A wide array of issues was represented by the watershed steering committee. The experience and knowledge of each committee member was helpful in examining issues from many perspectives. We focused on the most important concerns and these became the heart of our management plan. Items such as water quality, public access, farming stewardship, zoning and development, natural resource protection, erosion control, and community watershed education were deemed to be our highest priorities. We knew that with our strong concern for the preservation and protection of the creek, we could find many ways to study and improve the water quality.

Our plan included more opportunities to garner support from individuals and government agencies. We soon recognized that a large number of State and Federal departments would be valuable resources for our project. As an example, our plan called for creating mobile timber bridges. These bridges would allow stream crossing in an effort to minimize runoff from logging operations. The Virginia Department of Forestry was pleased with our efforts, and currently manages the timber bridge loan program. This is a very convenient relationship since they are often the first to know of logging operations where timber bridges could be beneficial.

As we studied each issue we relied on our Watershed Coordinator, Theresa Tabulenas to help us deal with technical aspects such as nutrient loading in relation to the Chesapeake Bay. Many of the solutions involved public awareness and community involvement. Once the committee was able to identify a problem and establish a relative importance, the brainstorming sessions brought many possible solutions. Again, Theresa was able to seek out funding or utilize existing agencies to create a higher profile for the interests of the committee.

The committee took into account concerns for regional tourism. The same aspects of Cat Point Creek that endear it to the residents are appreciated as tourism assets. The variety and abundance of fish and wildlife make the creek a natural attraction to eco-tourists. Canoeing, fishing, hiking and communing with nature are never more precious than in the Cat Point Creek watershed. As the owner of a campground on the creek, I feel the committee has kept the interests of all concerned. Protecting the pristine nature of Cat Point Creek is a value to local citizens. We all enjoy the beauty of the watershed as well as the economic impact of tourism.

The committee meets on an infrequent basis now to review and monitor the progress of the project. New issues are addressed as they arise and solutions are developed accordingly. I commend all who have become involved with the stewardship of Cat Point Creek. The project that once seemed too vast to be manageable has been able to have measurable effects on many levels.

 

Image courtesy of Northern Neck Planning Commission

Partial view of the
71 square mile
watershed

Detail View (150k)

Vision Statement

To establish a conservation perspective among residents and policy makers in order to maintain the intrinsic qualities of the watershed while recognizing and facing the inevitability of change.

Mission Statement

A voluntary group of concerned citizens sharing values which focus on the conservation of natural resources and the preservation of wildlife habitat and water quality, who are determined to protect these values.