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A beloved local river divides Virginians. But it’s the Boy Scouts who are causing the real divide

A Washington, D.C., Boy Scout troop is under fire for silting up a scenic Appalachian river beloved by generations of Virginians.

The Maury River, which runs 45 miles through the mountains north of Roanoke, Virginia, had one of its tributaries dammed in 1966 to create a lakeside campground for visiting Scout groups from throughout the DC metro area.

But locals now accuse the Scouts of choking the river and its wildlife by regularly draining the lake to maintain the dam. The Washington Post.

“We have to do something. We can’t let it go unnoticed and unchallenged,” George Kosovic of the Maury River Alliance told the newspaper. After.

The independent has asked the Scouts for comment.

At the center of the dispute is the Goshen Scout Reservation, owned since 1960 by the Boy Scouts’ National Capital Area Council (NCAC), which each summer draws Scout groups from throughout the DC Metro Area to camp next to the tranquil, 444-acre Lake Merriweather. .

“The lake… is the central feature, both for the program delivery and for the landscape. It’s the space between the campsites, which makes it feel more personal,” says Matthew Keck of the NCAC.

Lake Merriweather was created by damming the Little Calfpasture, one of two smaller rivers that join to form the Maury. To maintain this, the NCAC dries out the lake every fall and dredges out all the debris captured by the dam, releasing sediment into the Kleine Kalfsweide and thus the Maury.

For years, the area was under surveillance by state environmental regulators due to a high number of fish kills after a test of the dam’s emergency gate in 1992. Although that oversight expired in 2014, residents told the After that the problems continued.

A scientific study last May found the Little Calfpasture was too silty for healthy aquatic life, making it one of the worst waterways in the state.

“The dam is ruining the greatest natural resource in Rockbridge County,” said a letter to the Lexington newspaper The Newspaper last August.

“The state is full of lush lakes for the purposes for which Lake Merriweather is used. The Maury is a mighty river that has been held back and pampered for generations to come and does so only for the benefit of one group of summer visitors.”

For its part, the NCAC said the dam’s maintenance is necessary to prevent the dam from collapsing and flooding the area downstream, with potentially disastrous consequences.

“We’re at the stage where we’re trying to understand: Would dredging on a larger scale help us manage the silt and sediment that’s in the lake over time?” said Mr. Keck, who regularly visited the Goshen Reservation as a child.

“We want to model what we teach young people, right? ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, friendly, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, courageous, clean and respectful.’ We don’t just say these words to open a meeting, we live them. We always try to be good scouts.”