The Historic Port of Falmouth Park is a popular destination for both residents of the county and visitors from the region, especially during the warm summer months. Interest in the park increased exponentially last summer during the height of the COVID epidemic and has continued into this summer. Accordingly, Stafford has expanded efforts to educate visitors on safety with signage, safety videos and a personal flotation device (PFD) station. Members of the Friends of the Rappahannock and Stafford Fire and Rescue’s Swift Water Rescue Team are also visiting the park on weekends to engage with visitors on safety.
“We want park visitors to understand the dangers and unpredictability of this river. We are striving to continuously evaluate our efforts to keep the community safe,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Crystal Vanuch, Rock Hill District.
The new safety measures listed below are a multi-pronged approach to engaging the public.
- Historic Port of Falmouth Page on the Stafford Parks website at staffordcountyva.gov/hpof.
- Dedicated river safety video in English and Spanish at staffordcountyva.gov/hpof
- New safety signage with warnings about the dangers of the river
- PFD station
- Presence of the Friends of the Rappahannock and the Swift Water Rescue Team on weekends
The section of the Rappahannock River that the park fronts typically appears benign, but dangers lurk beneath that calm surface. The river has a strong current that flows from above the Falmouth Bridge, which can be extremely unpredictable due to storms and events upstream from Fredericksburg. The river is tidal below the bridge, meaning the levels change throughout the day. The bottom is rocky and slippery with a wide range of sizes of rocks. Additionally, the flow from upstream brings all types of debris that can be hidden underwater.
Recently, the Board of Supervisors members whose districts touch on the park, Meg Bohmke of the Falmouth District and Tom Coen of the George Washington District, visited the park for an interview with them, as well as members of Friends of the Rappahannock and members of the Swift Water Rescue Team.