Record rainfalls have hit the Historic Port of Falmouth Park hard. According to the National Weather Service, different parts of Stafford County received rainfall amounts in a range of six to fifteen inches during the month of July alone, most of which eventually flowed down the Rappahannock River to the Historic Port of Falmouth Park. The floods did not arrive empty-handed: debris, including massive tree trunks, washed down during each of the many heavy rainfalls, leaving the park covered with piles of trees and branches making it unusable.
Not only has this affected the many visitors to Falmouth Beach, the Belmont-Ferry Farm Trail and the soccer/rugby field located at the park, but the incredible volume of debris left behind by the flooding is also threatening the Yankees in Falmouth Event, held annually in September. The event is held on the grounds of the Moncure Conway House with parking available at the Historic Port of Falmouth Park.
“We are looking at a huge recovery effort during our busiest time of the year,” said Michael Morris, Director of Stafford’s Parks, Recreation and Communities Facilities (PRCF). “We had to be creative and innovative in accomplishing this cleanup with the resources we have available and still completing our mission of providing camps, parks and activities to visitors all summer long.”
County staff decided that the most effective way to clean up the park was to team up with other County departments. By pulling together resources, they can accomplish the work in-house at a fraction of the cost, saving the County both time and money. Staff from PRCF, Public Works and the R-Board are working overtime on weekends to clear the park and the Belmont-Ferry Farm Trail while attending to their regular jobs during the week. On the first work weekend over July 25, approximately 75 dump truck loads of debris were removed. The goal is to get a portion of the beach opened, and the parking lot and trail cleared before the Yankees in Falmouth event on September 8.
“This is a wonderful example of how local government goes above and beyond to remedy a difficult situation for our patrons as well as our community partners. We took a completely unexpected, devastating situation and figured out how to turn it around with the resources at hand,” said Board of Supervisors member Tom Coen, George Washington District. “Regardless, the flooding issues are a recurring problem in that area. My goal has always been to work with the County to find a long-term solution.”
While work continues on the main areas, the worst areas, where debris is harder to reach, will be fenced off. The debris will be piled until it can be burned later in the year. Open burning is not permitted until after October 1. Beach signage will have to be completed before access is given to Fire and Rescue for approval to be reopened. Unfortunately, PRCF reports the park is ineligible for FEMA reimbursement because the flooding was not declared a State or National emergency. However, PRCF continues to research other grant opportunities to mitigate future flooding circumstances.
Information will be posted about the reopening of the park on www.staffordparks.com.