Breaking new ground
Published 9:11 am Tuesday, January 6, 2015
LEWISTON – Home to three rivers, Bertie County is blessed by an abundance of natural resources. So it’s hard to imagine there is not a boating access area on the Roanoke River within the county’s boundaries for the general public to enjoy.
However, that fact is about to change.
Late last month, officials with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) gathered with local leaders for an impromptu ceremony to go over the details of the Bertie County Boating Access Area (BAA) on the Roanoke River at 838 Weeping Mary Road, located off NC 11 just south of Woodville. This marks the first public access area in the county on the Roanoke. There are BAA’s on the Cashie River – Sans Souci Ferry, and on Elm Street in Windsor.
Erik Christofferson, Division Chief of Engineering Services, and Christian T. Waters, Fisheries Program Manager of the Division of Inland Fisheries, were joined by outgoing District 5 House of Representatives member Annie Mobley at the site.
Christofferson said the project was scheduled to begin this month. The projected completion is spring or early summer of 2015. It will be a single boat ramp along with a floating dock/fishing pier that will be handicapped accessible. In addition to the ramp and pier, the area will include parking spots for 19 boat trailers as well as seven spaces for single vehicles.
Christofferson said there were a number of things that the NCWRC liked about the Lewiston-Woodville site.
“For starters, this is on the Roanoke River, an extremely popular waterway for striped bass fishing in the spring of every year,” he noted. “This access area is also the center point of two other access areas on the Roanoke, one roughly 20 miles upstream in Halifax County (adjacent to the US 258 bridge at the Northampton County line), and the other about 20 miles downstream in Martin County at Hamilton. Then there are the public game lands here on the other side of the river. Folks that launch from here can easily access those game lands. This is an ideal location.”
NCWRC purchased the property (3.3 acres as well as an easement for the right-of-way to travel the short distance from Weeping Mary Road to the ramp) from Warren Matthews for $115,000. The anticipated cost of construction/development will add $350,000 to the total project.
“Our boating program and fisheries program split the cost,” Christofferson said. “That money is generated by boat registration fees, fishing license fees and sports fishing funds.”
George Lee, a long-time resident of Bertie County, took a tour of the planned access area and liked what he saw.
“I can remember coming here by walking through the woods….this is nice,” said Lee. “I always thought this area would be great to put a boat ramp. I hope it’s open in time for white perch season.”
According Mobley, Lee is part of the family who asked Mobley to get in touch with the NCWRC about the possibility of placing a ramp in Bertie County.
“We’ve been working on this project for a while; I’m so glad to see this come about for the public,” said Mobley.
“We searched for just the right place here in Bertie County to place a boating access area,” stated Christofferson. “With the help of Representative Mobley and others here, they kept nudging us along to find a place. Sometimes that’s what it takes to find a good location like this.”
A sign on Weeping Mary Road at the entrance area of the ramp will inform local citizens of what’s coming by the middle of this year.
Waters said the original request for a site in Bertie County came in 2011 as a pier fishing facility on the river.
“We first looked at the area on Highway 11 (at the Monk Harrington Bridge), but that proved as a difficult site to build on because of all the wetland areas there,” Waters stressed. “We looked at four other sites before settling on this particular area. This one gives us both the boating access and fishing pier access areas.”
When asked how does the process work for the NCWRC to construct a boating access ramp in a particular area, Christofferson said, “There are a number of ways…when we plan to develop a new access area, we can receive input on that from the local board of county commissioners; we could be on the look-out for an area that has a need for water access; or a landowner could contact us and offer land for sale to use as an access area. In any of those cases we’ll send some folks out to assess the needs and determine where the closest access areas are in the area. We prioritize these areas according to how they serve the public’s best interests.”
The design on the site is completed. NCWRC is now in the process of obtaining the proper construction permits.