James River named most scenic plus protecting the diverse wildlife on our water bodies

BUCHANAN, Va. (WDBJ) – We are highlighting the James River this week as it is known for being the most scenic river in Virginia! “Our program oversees the scenic rivers program that actually creates over 100 miles of segments along the James that have been designated as scenic,” says Kelly McClary, Director of Division of Planning and Recreation Resources for Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

One of the designation criteria for the Virginia scenic rivers program is the repairing buffer that’s along the James River. “That ensures that the erosion and those kind of things that go through and into the river are protecting the river… Anytime you have a protection like that it will help with both flooding, erosion, and of course increase of diversity when it comes to any species,” says McClary.

Highlighting the James River plus how to protect the diverse wildlife we ​​see on our water bodies.(WDBJ7)

“Riverside erosion is a really big problem. If we have vegetation that kind of stops then we can kind of go into the river it makes it easy access for people, but it actually degrades the health of the river.” – Haley Olsen-Hodges, Director of Operations for Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center.

I spoke with Haley Olsen-Hodges, Director of Operations for the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center. She mentioned that one of the main issues that the center sees is individuals taking animals improperly from the waterways. “People think ‘I’ll keep it as a pet,’ but these things aren’t pets. They need really specific kinds of care to thrive and survive properly and unfortunately our reptiles and amphibians are not doing well specifically in this area of ​​Virginia… so leave things where they are,” says Olsen-Hodges.

Another issue that the wildlife center deals with is fishing gear causing harm to wildlife. “We see a number of different kinds of waterfowl and turtles and all sorts of critters that unfortunately don’t make it or die or are severely injured because of people not disposing of their fishing gear properly…We have all sorts of different kinds of birds including owls fly in and get caught and get tangled and a lot of them aren’t able to be found until it’s already too late or they are severely injured. That goes for hooks and the line itself.”

We know where we live is so special for many reasons. A reason we can add to that list is the diverse wildlife we ​​can see along our water ways. “One of the things people don’t know about the southern Appalachians is that this is one of the super biodiverse hotspots for a lot of things specifically related to water…Because of the water ways and because of the mountains we have some salamanders here that are only found in certain little areas and no where else in the world. For example the peaks of otter salamander is only found in the peaks of otter and no where else.”

Wildlife plays a role not only on the most scenic James River, but also on every water body here in Virginia.

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