RCS projects are designed to care for and protect the Rivanna and its watershed. Projects range from recreational paddles, walks and sojourns to buffer plantings, youth and adult education programs and community outreach campaignsb

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Scheier Natural Area

Woolen Mills Dam

Seasons on the River


RCS projects are supported and implemented by the RCS members, volunteers, donors and staff.

Third Thursday Brown Bag Lecture series provides an open forum for the community to learn about and discuss environmental and natural resource challenges facing our watershed. The schedule of Brown Bag presentations can be found on the RCS calendar section of this website.

Buffer Initiative – RCS has a long and distinguished history planting trees throughout the watershed. This stands as a proven, effective conservation measure at keeping sedimentation and pollution associated with stormwater runoff out of the river. Among the most recent “Big” buffer projects are the Charlottesville/Albemarle Airport project where RCS volunteers planted nearly 2,000 trees and the at the Glenmore Country Club. This project was the largest buffer planting in Albemarle County, with more than 15 acres of land and more than 2,200 trees planted.  

Rivanna River Clean Ups – RCS conducts the annual Rivanna River Clean Up each spring and fall. These cleanups span the full length of the river (about 50 miles) from the headwaters in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the confluence with the James River at Columbia, VA. Mini cleanups also take place throughout the watershed, with a number of groups and companies providing volunteers. Each year hundreds of miles of stream are cleaned with thousands of pounds of trash collected.

Rivanna River Paddles and Sojourns – RCS and its partner Blue Ridge Mountain Sports host the annual Rivanna River Sojourn with cooperation of the City of Charlottesville, and the Counties of Albemarle and Fluvanna. This event, held in April of each year, offers novice and experienced paddlers with the opportunity to traverse the beautiful Rivanna River with family and friends (or soon to be friends). The Sojourn generally launches from Milton/Shadwell and ends in Palmyra at the Pleasant Grove Heritage Trail Park.

Scenic River Designation – RCS was instrumental in securing the Scenic River Designation from the Virginia General Assembly for the Woolen Mills segment of the Rivanna River. Working with a host of local organizations and government groups, RCS helped to develop the enabling legislation, communicated with appropriate members of the General Assembly and worked with other groups to secure passage of the designation and gubernatorial approval. The 2009 designation completes the work initiated by Minnie Lee McGehee who in 1975 set out to have the entire Rivanna designated as Scenic River.

Stormwater Code and Ordinance Review Project – RCS continues it work with the University of Virginia’s Environmental and Conservation Law Clinic and the Southern Environmental Law Center to analyze and make recommendations on how to improve the stormwater codes and ordinances from the four primary watershed communities (City of Charlottesville, Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna and Greene).

Student and Teacher Watershed Forums – RCS regularly hosts education forums for students and teachers from across the watershed. Locations vary from Albemarle, Fluvanna and Greene Counties and the City of Charlottesville. Specific activities included physical, chemical and biological water quality monitoring, river flows assessments, tree ring analysis, Enviro-scape training, photo contests, environmental journaling and an environmental scavenger hunts.

Woolen Mills Dam Breach – RCS volunteers created a Restoration Committee that worked for more than 7 years to secure government permits, fiscal support and ultimately contracted for the breaching of the Woolen Mills Dam. The dam breech was made possible by the generous support of the Thach Family, owners of the Woolen Mills Dam. Water quality monitoring continues in order to ascertain the impact of the breech on water quality, aquatic habitat and the American Shad.

World Water Monitoring Day – RCS is the regional sponsor of World Water Monitoring Day. This global event was created by the RCS Executive Director in her former position in Washington DC. Participants monitor for pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen and turbidity (clarity). The results of the water quality monitoring are uploaded into the international data base and are used by RCS to document “citizen scientists” monitoring samples.