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Better way to the Banister

South Boston News
Del. James Edmunds touts the tourism value of the new boat landing, which affords easy access for canoeists, kayakers and fishermen on the Banister River and lake. / April 23, 2018
Asparkling spring day awaited guests at the sponsor recognition program Friday for the Banister River Boat Landing, a 40-year Town of Halifax landmark that continues to improve after undergoing major upgrades last year.

Featuring a newly poured boat ramp and a concrete stair-step launch for kayaks and canoes, the rehabilitated landing has been in use for more than a year, after reopening Feb. 17, 2017, ahead of President’s Day Weekend.

Yet it continues to receive enhancements, such as a new gateway pole sign and retaining wall, and bike racks and decorative benches that have been installed in recent months.

On Friday, Town of Halifax officials and supporters of the project gathered at the boat launch overlooking Banister Lake to express their appreciation to those who have made progress possible.

Del. James Edmunds hailed the project’s value in attracting visitors to Halifax County and spoke of the importance of protecting the community’s natural resources. Edmunds said he looks forward himself to using the boat access on the Banister, which he called a boon for visiting canoeists or kayakers to Halifax County.

Edmunds praised the project’s funders, including the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region Riverbank Fund, the Roanoke River Basin Association and the Rotary Club of South Boston.

The boat ramp, built in 1970 by DGIF and a recognized attraction on the Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail, has been in use for more than 40 years but was in need of significant work prior to the rehabilitation project. In December 2014, Halifax County transferred to the parcel at the base of the 501-N bridge to the Town of Halifax, the first step in the town’s efforts to carry out an overhaul.

The Town applied for grants to upgrade the boating facilities, receiving money from DGIF through their Boating Access to Localities Program, as well as funding from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, a Dominion Environmental Stewardship Grant through the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA), the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund and the Riverbank Fund through the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region.

The project, managed by B&B Consultants, Inc., involved demolition of the existing facilities and the clearing and grading of the site, after erosion and sediment control measures were put in place, including the deployment of the turbidity curtain along the lake shore. A new boat ramp was poured and a DGIF design-approved concrete stair-step launch for canoes and kayaks was installed.

New courtesy pier pilings were driven into the lake bed, pier decking was built and a concrete retaining wall, steps and ADA-compliant walkway connecting to the pier and stair-step launch were poured.

During the major construction phase, public access to the lake was closed for 60 days, but the boat landing was reopened in February 2017. Since that time, paddlers and motorized boaters have enjoyed the new boat ramp, courtesy pier and hand launch.

Recently, Jerry Epps Landscape Company, working under general contractor Dunavant Engineering and Construction, and the Town of Halifax, completed construction of major site amenities, including the new gateway pole sign and retaining wall. Over the past few months, landscaping features were planted and decorative benches, bike racks and trash receptacles, donated by the South Boston Rotary Club, have been installed to accompany the three light posts as additional site enhancements.

The Banister River Boat Landing is now listed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as a part of the Virginia Treasures Program.

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