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Banister designation all but set

The official designation of a 25-mile stretch of the Banister River as a “Scenic River” is awaiting the signature of Virginia Gov.Terry McAuliffe, following unanimous approval of a resolution offered by Chatham Delegate Les Adams Monday in the State Senate.

The House of Delegates signed off on the designation three weeks ago.

McAuliffe’s signature is all that remains to extend the Scenic River designation from a 38-mile stretch of the Banister to around 63 miles, moving the designated stretch of river further into Halifax County.

The Pittsylvania Board of Supervisors partnered with Halifax in the process starting in the fall of 2011 through the elected leadership of Supervisors Marshall Ecker (late chair), Jerry Hagerman and Jessie Barksdale (current chair), who later took the initiative for the study to extend the Scenic River designation the additional 25 miles.

Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy said Tuesday the action of the State Senate came as “fantastic news.”

“It’s my understanding it will come before the governor in March for his signature and become effective July 1,” Espy said.

The Scenic River designation culminates an effort between the town of Halifax and the county that goes back to 2004, Espy explained.

Identifying the Banister River as a Scenic River also was identified as part of the Town of Halifax Comprehensive Plan in 2007, according to the town manager.

The Scenic River program seeks to identify, designate and help protect for future generations those rivers and streams that possess outstanding scenic, recreational, historic and natural characteristics of statewide significance. 

The program is managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The Town of Halifax, Halifax County and Pittsylvania County requested the designation, and Delegates James E. Edmunds II, Daniel L. Marshall III and Donald W. Merricks sponsored the legislation.

The Town of Halifax requested the Scenic River designation for tourism and economic development purposes. 

The Banister River Gateway Project is part of an initiative that includes new signage, river access and parking.

Working with the Roanoke River Basin Association-Upper Reach and neighboring counties on a regional canoe trail system, the town is striving to market the area to paddlers in Richmond and the Research Triangle in North Carolina. 

Pittsylvania County seconded the Scenic River nomination and plans to use the designation to market itself as a business center with cutting-edge companies and high-speed Internet set among rolling hills and scenic rivers. 

The Virginia State Scenic Program recently honored three Virginia State Scenic Rivers - the Banister River, the Dan River and the Meherrin River - as part of the 2013 Scenic Award winners at a gala reception and ceremony held at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.  

Scenic Virginia paid tribute to the entire process, hailing the legislators for their work during the legislative session and showcasing the efforts of the localities to use these three new Scenic River designations for tourism, marketing and economic development.