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Clinch River Valley Initiative recipient of Scenic Tourism Award

Staff report • Nov 4, 2015 at 6:00 PM

The Clinch River Valley Initiative is the 2015 recipient of Scenic Virginia’s Scenic Tourism Award. The award was recently presented by Scenic Virginia to CRVI at the Scenic Awards Gala Reception and Ceremony held at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.

The Scenic Awards Gala and Reception brings together individuals and organizations to learn about and celebrate Virginia’s extraordinary vistas and watersheds.

Scenic Virginia presented the award to the Clinch River Valley Initiative for re-imagining the Clinch River Valley as a global tourism destination for visitors seeking natural beauty, outdoor recreation, unique biodiversity and cultural attractions among the coalfields of Southwest Virginia.

The Clinch River, which is one of the most biodiverse river systems in North America, travels some 135 miles, through portions of Tazewell, Russell, Wise, and Scott counties on its way to the Tennessee state line.

Working with several local partners, the CRVI’s effort has developed significant momentum with applicability for communities in Appalachia and beyond. Project partners are prioritizing goals and taking actions to connect downtown revitalization, increase access to the Clinch, improve water quality, foster entrepreneurship and provide environmental education in the region.

CRVI’s vision is that by 2020 the Clinch River Valley will be a global destination based on its unique biodiversity, natural beauty, cultural attractions and outdoor opportunities.

The Clinch played a major role in the exploration and settlement of Southwest Virginia. Many early settlers made their homes along its eastern shore, while others crossed the river and explored the wilderness beyond its banks. Probably the most famous explorer to walk the banks of the Clinch and challenge its current was Daniel Boone. Boone resided for some time near Castlewood and negotiated the river during his many trips through Southwest Virginia.

Today, the river is nationally known as a biodiversity hotspot. The Clinch contains the nation’s greatest concentration of rare and imperiled freshwater animals. Supporting up to 46 species, at least 24 of which are in danger of extinction, the Clinch River is home to rare mussels, colorful minnows and darters and excellent sport fish.

The next CRVI meeting will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the Cove Ridge Center at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield.

For more information, visit www.clinchriverva.com.