As a result of silting from upstream development decreasing the depth of the Neabsco Creek channel, the US Coast Guard removed the navigational aids and replaced them with large “DANGER” signs, effectively stopping boaters from going in or out. The US Army Corps of Engineers is tasked with channel maintenance, but a lack of funding has prevented the dredging required to keep the shallow passage passable. Channel closure has negative impacts on public safety, local business and local water enthusiasts. Nearly 1,000 boats, including a Fire & Rescue boat, are parked at the three marinas inside the channel. Impacts include:
- Increased rescue response time: Rescue boat would have to exit channel in idle, adding 5-6 minutes response time to 911 calls on the river and in Leesylvania State Park
- Decreased boater safety due to lack of navigational aids.
- Closing of businesses/loss of jobs: 12 companies, including the three marinas–which are multiple generation, family-owned, small businesses–rely on the creek for their livelihood and together support over 50 jobs.
- Loss of recreational access: In addition the 1,000 boats at the marinas, residents and visitors also use the channel as a launching point for paddle boarding, kayaking and other water sports. The closure reduces quality of life for local residents, as well as tourism opportunities.
Impacted stakeholders are working to identify funds for dredging the channel (as was done in 1999), request that the Corps of Engineers perform a marine survey and appeal to the Coast Guard to reconsider its decision. Preserving use of the channel will take a concerted effort from area residents, along with a public/private partnership, that includes some county funding. All are encouraged to speak at Citizen’s Time to show support for reopening the channel; comments can also be submitted to SpeakUp Prince William. See updates on Hampton’s Landing Marina’s Facebook.