DOBSON — A Duke Energy grant was awarded to Surry County, paving the way for canoe and kayak access on the Ararat River.
On Monday, Surry County Parks and Recreation announced it had received a $72,712 grant from Duke Energy’s Water Resource Fund. The county said Duke Energy is contributing about $10 million to protect and improve the environment.
Daniel White, Surry County parks and recreation director, said the funds will pay for the construction of a new canoe access point on the Ararat River where N.C. 268 crosses the waterway. Already there is a county recycling and trash center at the location of the future access point.
This access will include a driveway, parking lot and stairs to the river. Due to the terrain at the site, White said the steps leading to the waterway will account for much of the $72,000 in expenses.
He also noted all monetary expenditures will come from the grant, which required no matching funds from the county. His department will supply some labor for the project, and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is handling the engineering for the project.
“These funds will be utilized to provide public access to our waterways for fishing and paddling activities on the Ararat River,” said White. “This project will expand our blueway infrastructure in Surry County, and we thank Duke Energy for its support and are eager to launch this project so that we can continue serving our local waterways.”
White plans to bring the project to completion as quickly as possible.
“We started clearing this week,” said White on Friday. “I expect we will turn this around pretty quickly.”
White added that once construction begins, it should be about a year until the access point is ready for use. However, once it’s there, he hopes more doors — or banks — will open on the Ararat River.
“This will give us a foothold on the Ararat,” said White. Once there is one access point, it is easier to garner grant dollars for more landings.
Though Mount Airy operates two access points in close proximity to each other, the new point will be the first access south of the city limits in more navigable portions of the river.
The access point may also benefit local volunteer fire departments, as White hopes a dry hydrant will be installed at the location as part of the construction process.
White, who in the past couple of years has overseen much improved canoe access in Surry County, noted he is thankful for all the organizations which corroborate in making Surry County’s waterways accessible to residents and visitors.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.