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RECREATION ASSESSMENT STUDY:

FINAL REPORT

CLAYTOR PROJECT
FERC NO. 739

The Louis Berger Group, Inc.


75 Second Avenue
Suite 700
Needham, MA 02494

DECEMBER 2008
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES......................................................................................................................... V

LIST OF FIGURES ....................................................................................................................VIII

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .......................................................................................................... IX

1.0 INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................. 1


1.1 Project Description...................................................................................................1
1.2 Study Development and Consultation .....................................................................2
1.3 Purpose and Study Area...........................................................................................3

2.0 METHODS ......................................................................................................................... 8


2.1 Literature Review of Regional Resources ...............................................................8
2.2 Recreational Site Inventory......................................................................................9
2.3 Access Site Interviews .............................................................................................9
2.4 Access Site Spot Counts ........................................................................................10
2.5 Traffic Counters .....................................................................................................10
2.6 Shoreline Owner Mail Survey ...............................................................................11
2.7 Regional Resident Mail Survey .............................................................................11
2.8 Commercial or Private Facility Visitation Estimates.............................................12
2.9 Boat Counts............................................................................................................12
2.10 Current Use Estimate .............................................................................................14
2.11 Future Estimated Use.............................................................................................15
2.12 New River Public Access Characterization ...........................................................15
2.13 Angler ....................................................................................................................16
2.14 Data Limitations.....................................................................................................16

3.0 SUMMARY OF RECREATION RESOURCES ............................................................. 19


3.1 Regional Recreation Resources .............................................................................19
3.2 Project Area Recreation Resources........................................................................21
3.2.1 Public Recreation Resources ..................................................................21
3.2.2 Commercial and Private Recreation Resources......................................31
3.3 New River Public Recreation Resources ...............................................................34

4.0 SUMMARY OF RECREATION USE AND USER CHARACTERISITICS ................. 38


4.1 Recreation Visitation and Type of Uses ................................................................38
4.1.1 Public Access Area Use..........................................................................38
4.1.2 Shoreline Property Owner Use ...............................................................42
4.2 Recent Historical Public Recreation Use...............................................................43
4.3 Recreation Use by Activity....................................................................................44
4.4 Boating Use and Accident Data.............................................................................46
4.4.1 Boating Use.............................................................................................46
4.4.2 Boating Accident Data............................................................................48

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5.0 CLAYTOR LAKE ACCESS SITE RECREATION USER PERCEPTIONS, USE
CHARACTERISTICS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS.................................................. 49
5.1 General Characteristics ..........................................................................................49
5.2 Recreation Access Site Visitor Perceptions of Crowding, Safety, and Aesthetic
Attributes................................................................................................................50
5.3 Access Site User Issues and Recommendations ....................................................53

6.0 SHORELINE PROPERTY OWNER RECREATION USE, CHARACTERISITICS,


PERCEPTIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS............................................................ 56
6.1 General Characteristics ..........................................................................................56
6.2 Shoreline Owner Perceptions of Crowding and Safety .........................................57
6.3 Shoreline Owner Facility-related Issues and Recommendations...........................62

7.0 REGIONAL RESIDENT RECREATION USE AND RECOMMENDATIONS............ 64


7.1 General Recreation Patterns and Trends................................................................64
7.2 Recreational Access and Nighttime Use................................................................67
7.3 Issues Raised by Regional Residents.....................................................................68

8.0 FUTURE RECREATION USE ESTIMATE ................................................................... 70

9.0 CLAYTOR LAKE ACCESS SITE UTILIZATION AND BOATING DENSITY ......... 73
9.1 Access Site Capacity Utilization............................................................................73
9.2 Boating and State Park Beach Density ..................................................................78

10.0 NEW RIVER RECREATION SITE USER PERCEPTIONS, USE CHARACTERISTICS,


AND RECOMMENDATIONS ........................................................................................ 83
10.1 General Characteristics ..........................................................................................83
10.2 Recreational Visitation to Public Access Sites at New River................................84
10.3 New River Visitor Perceptions of Crowding and Safety .......................................85
10.4 Perception of Water Levels on New River Users ..................................................86
10.5 Flow Characteristics Related to Recreation...........................................................88

11.0 ANGLER USE.................................................................................................................. 94


11.1 General Characteristics ..........................................................................................94
11.2 Catch, Release, and Harvest Results......................................................................98
11.3 Angler Demographics ..........................................................................................100
11.4 Night Angling Results..........................................................................................103
11.5 Striped Bass Angler Responses ...........................................................................106

12.0 DISCUSSION ................................................................................................................. 108

13.0 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ......................................................... 112

14.0 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 115

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APPENDIX A Recreational Site Inventory
APPENDIX B Appealing Features Photopresentation
APPENDIX C Access Site Interview Summary
APPENDIX D Access Site Spot Count Data Summary
APPENDIX E Shoreline Resident Survey Data Summary
APPENDIX F Regional Resident Survey Data Summary
APPENDIX G New River Access Site Interview Summary
APPENDIX H New River Spot Count Data Summary
APPENDIX I Boating Density Figures
APPENDIX J Traffic Counter Data Summary
APPENDIX K Angler Use Survey

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Data collection methods.......................................................................................... 8


Table 2. Number of interviews, spot count, and traffic counts collected. .......................... 10
Table 3. Distribution of shoreline owner mail surveys. ...................................................... 11
Table 4. Distribution of regional resident surveys.............................................................. 12
Table 5. Survey response rates............................................................................................ 12
Table 6. Dates of aerial flights to document boating on Claytor Lake and New River. ..... 13
Table 7. Spot counts recorded at Claytor Project access areas in April and
May by location. ................................................................................................... 17
Table 8. Number of interviews recorded in April and May by location............................. 18
Table 9. Summary of recreation site facilities and amenities at the Claytor Project. ......... 22
Table 10. Summary of estimated recreation visitation March 1, 2007 to
February 29, 2008. ................................................................................................ 38
Table 11. Estimated use (recreation days) at public recreation sites from
March 1 through November 31, 2007................................................................... 40
Table 12. Estimated use (recreation days) at public recreation sites from
December 1 to February 28, 2007......................................................................... 41
Table 13. Weighted average trip duration to public access areas
(March through November). ................................................................................. 41
Table 14. Weighted average trip duration to public access areas by activity
(March through November). ................................................................................. 42
Table 15. Summary of shoreline property owner visitation estimates (Labor Day 2006
through Labor Day 2007....................................................................................... 43
Table 16. Summary of recent visitation estimates to the Project.......................................... 43
Table 17. Claytor Project distribution of recreation activity among public access
users and shoreline and regional residents............................................................ 45
Table 18. Type and size of boat used by recreation site users. ............................................. 47
Table 19. Type and size of boat owned by shoreline property ownersa. .............................. 47
Table 20. Boat registration data (1997-2006)a. ..................................................................... 48
Table 21. User perceptions of watercraft crowding on Claytor Lake. .................................. 50
Table 22. User perceptions of crowding in terms of number of people................................ 51
Table 23. Scenic quality ratings from interview respondents. .............................................. 52
Table 24. Access site users’ scenic attributes. ...................................................................... 52
Table 25. Access site users’ unappealing scenic attributes................................................... 53
Table 26. Location and dissatisfaction with facility opportunity comments. ....................... 54
Table 27. Satisfaction with number and type of recreation opportunities at facilities.......... 55
Table 28. Type and location of facilities recommended by interview respondents.............. 55
Table 29. Claytor Project area perception of crowding on the water by shoreline
property owners. ................................................................................................... 57
Table 30. Experiences at public recreation areas or on the water that took
enjoyment away from shoreline residents............................................................. 58
Table 31. Shoreline owner aesthetic ratings. ........................................................................ 59
Table 32. Twenty most mentioned scenically appealing areas as identified by
shoreline homeowners. ......................................................................................... 59

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Table 33. Twenty most mentioned scenically unappealing areas as identified by
shoreline homeowners. ......................................................................................... 60
Table 34. Shoreline property owners’ scenic attribute ratings (percent). ............................. 61
Table 35. Impact of seasonal drawdown on recreational use of shoreline residents. ........... 62
Table 36. Shoreline owner’s satisfaction with the condition of public recreation
facilities................................................................................................................. 62
Table 37. Shoreline owner satisfaction with number and types of recreation
facilities at the Project........................................................................................... 63
Table 38. Shoreline owner recommendations....................................................................... 63
Table 39. Summary of regional survey responses for people visiting the Project
and for visits to other non-Project waters. ............................................................ 65
Table 40. Regional resident participation in recreation. ....................................................... 66
Table 41. Waterbodies where regional residents recreate other than the Project. ................ 67
Table 42. Summary of nighttime activities at the Project..................................................... 68
Table 43. Reasons for not visiting Claytor Lake. ................................................................. 68
Table 44. Population projections for counties adjacent to the Project.................................. 70
Table 45. Future recreation activity day use estimates in 10 year increments from
2007 to 2050 – Claytor Lake. ............................................................................... 71
Table 46. Peak season parking lot utilization by day type.................................................... 78
Table 47. Boat-at-one-time Counts....................................................................................... 79
Table 48. Vehicle Counts on July 14 at Claytor Project Boat Ramps .................................. 80
Table 49. Number of empty slips at Claytor Lake marinas on July 14................................. 80
Table 50. Boat Density Range .............................................................................................. 80
Table 51. Visitation by access ramp. .................................................................................... 84
Table 52. Recreational activities pursued at New River. ...................................................... 85
Table 53. User perceptions of watercraft crowding on New River. ..................................... 86
Table 54. User perceptions of crowding in terms of number of people................................ 86
Table 55. Total number of interviews with New River visitors............................................ 88
Table 56. Number of interviews by flow regime. ................................................................. 88
Table 57. Monthly estimates of the total number of fishing boats, pleasure boats
and jet skis with total angler hours, Claytor Lake, March-November 2007......... 94
Table 58. Monthly estimates of number of fishing trips for Claytor Lake, with
survey total, March-November 2007. ................................................................... 95
Table 59. Annual distribution of intended fishing effort for Claytor Lake,
March-November 2007. ........................................................................................ 96
Table 60. Intended angler effort (hours) by species for Claytor Lake,
March – November 2007. ..................................................................................... 97
Table 61. Intended angler effort (hours) by species for Claytor Lake,
March – November 1998. ..................................................................................... 97
Table 62. Estimates of monthly catch and harvest rates, with survey total, for
Claytor Lake, March-November 2007. ................................................................. 98
Table 63. Estimates of monthly catch and harvest, with survey total, for
Claytor Lake, March-November 2007. ................................................................. 99
Table 64. Species catch and harvest rates over the entire survey for Claytor Lake,
March-November 2007 ......................................................................................... 99

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Table 65. Species catch and harvest for the entire survey for Claytor Lake,
March - November 2007 ..................................................................................... 100
Table 66. Size class and frequencies for fish released reported by anglers at
Claytor Lake, March – November 2007 ............................................................. 100
Table 67. Monthly Trip Expenditures for Claytor Lake, March-November 2007 ............. 102
Table 68. Species sought by night anglers at Claytor Lake, March – November 2007...... 103
Table 69. Access points used by night anglers at Claytor Lake, March –
November 2007................................................................................................... 103
Table 70. Distribution of responses to why anglers fish at night, Claytor Lake,
March-November 2007 ....................................................................................... 104
Table 71. Catch rate estimates by intended species for the night fishery on
Claytor Lake, March-November 2007 ................................................................ 105
Table 72. Distribution of species caught at night on Claytor Lake, March –
November, 2007.................................................................................................. 105
Table 73. Distribution of species harvested at night on Claytor Lake, March –
November, 2007.................................................................................................. 105
Table 74. Species preferred by striped bass anglers at Claytor Lake, March –
November 2007................................................................................................... 106
Table 75. Distribution of opinion on striped bass/hybrid striped bass sizes Claytor
Lake, March - November 2007........................................................................... 107

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. Claytor Project. ......................................................................................................... 5


Figure 2. Public and commercial access areas within Claytor Project boundary..................... 6
Figure 3. New River Access Sites. ........................................................................................... 7
Figure 4. Claytor Project. ....................................................................................................... 20
Figure 5. Allisonia Access Site .............................................................................................. 23
Figure 6. Lowman’s Ferry Bridge.......................................................................................... 24
Figure 7. Harry DeHaven County Park .................................................................................. 25
Figure 8. Dublin Access Site.................................................................................................. 26
Figure 9. Claytor Lake State Park .......................................................................................... 27
Figure 10. Appalachian Group Picnic Area ............................................................................. 28
Figure 11. New River Access Site............................................................................................ 29
Figure 12. Potential Future Recreation Areas .......................................................................... 30
Figure 13. Conrad Brothers Marine ......................................................................................... 32
Figure 14. Rock House Marina ................................................................................................ 33
Figure 15. New River public access locations. ........................................................................ 35
Figure 16. Claytor Project distribution of recreation activities ................................................ 46
Figure 17. Participation rates.................................................................................................... 66
Figure 18. Range of parking spaces filled during the peak recreation season
(Memorial Day – Labor Day) for Claytor Project access areas.............................. 76
Figure 19. Range of parking spaces filled during the peak recreation season
(Memorial Day – Labor Day) for Claytor Project access areas.............................. 77
Figure 20. Boating Density for July 14, 2007 .......................................................................... 81
Figure 21. Claytor Lake State Park on July 14, 2007............................................................... 82
Figure 22. Percentage of watercraft type used by boat anglers on the New River. ................. 87
Figure 23. Glen Lyn gaging station hydrographs for 2007 and other benchmarks.................. 89
Figure 24. Number of site user interviews recorded by date, March through
November, 2007...................................................................................................... 90
Figure 25. Number of interviews recorded and the corresponding flow and the
running total number of interviews......................................................................... 91
Figure 26. Primary activities most affected by flows/water level............................................ 92
Figure 27. Number of boat anglers who were negatively affected by flow and the
corresponding flow during their visit...................................................................... 93
Figure 28. Hours fished by night anglers at Claytor Lake, March-November 2007.............. 104
Figure 29. Months fished by striped bass supplement respondents, Claytor Lake,
March – November, 2007. .................................................................................... 106

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This report presents the Recreation and Angler Use Assessment conducted as part of the
relicensing process for the Claytor Project, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) No.
739. The Claytor Project is owned by Appalachian Power Company (Appalachian) and is
operated as a conventional hydroelectric project located on the New River in Pulaski County,
Virginia. The Claytor Lake Recreation Use Assessment provides an in-depth assessment of
existing public recreation facilities, current use, and future needs at the Project. It is one of 14
studies conducted as part of a multi-year relicensing process involving Appalachian and
numerous work groups. The study plan, which was approved by FERC, was developed in
consultation with a recreation work group that includes Appalachian staff; federal, state, and
local government representatives; recreation groups; commercial interests; and the public.

The objective of this study was to provide baseline recreation information relevant to the
Claytor Project by characterizing public access, recreation uses, levels of use, and future needs.
Specific objectives were to update the inventory of existing public recreation facilities that
provide public access to the Claytor Project and to record existing water-based and land-based
recreation use at the Project-related recreational facilities from March through November. The
study encompassed Appalachian public access sites, public recreation sites managed by the state,
private access sites, and commercial marinas that provide services to the public. The
characterizations, findings, and recommendations of this study are based on 9 months of data
collection and analysis.

Key findings of the study are:


• The region is rich with water-based recreational opportunities and Claytor Lake is
a significant feature within the New River Valley. Regional residents who do not
currently recreate at the Project stay away primarily because they are not
interested in these opportunities or are not able to participate.
• Claytor Lake is a popular angling lake. Claytor Lake State Park, which attracts
the highest number of users to the Lake, provides a wide spectrum of recreational
opportunities.
• More than 450,000 recreation days were recorded at the public recreation sites
and commercial marinas in 2007. Shoreline property owners contributed an
additional 449,000 recreation days.
• Public boat launch facilities (Allisonia, Dublin, New River below Claytor dam)
are well below capacity most of the year. Claytor Lake State Park and Harry
DeHaven County Park fill to near capacity during summer weekends; however,
the State Park can accommodate additional parking via overflow parking lots that
were not considered part of the design capacity. Trailer parking at Harry
DeHaven can be limited if beach users, picnickers, and bank anglers use the
parking near the ramp.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final ix October 2008
• The main channel of Claytor Lake between the dam and Peak Creek is most
popular for boating during summer weekends, with the areas near existing ramps
the most popular. However, density estimates indicate that boats typically have at
least 25 acres of water per boat even on the busiest days. Public site users
perceive the sites and water to have at most the “average number of people” and
“average number of water craft”, respectively, while shoreline property owners
felt weekend crowding on the water was above average.
• Public site users were satisfied with the type and number of recreational facilities
around the lake, but still recommended more boat ramps/launches, bank fishing,
parks (with shade, picnic tables, beaches, and boat rentals), and restaurants.
According to survey respondents, site maintenance and upgrades are needed at
almost all public boat ramps. Shoreline property owners want more gas stations,
restaurants with boat access, and a boat launch on the east side of the lake. Four
percent (19) of the site users responding to the survey identified their primary
activity as canoeing/kayaking, and 17 of those participated in this activity for less
than 4 hours. This pattern of use suggests that they were day users.
• Trash and debris are the number one detractors from the scenery according to
public site users, shoreline property owners, and regional residents. However,
when asked about how much debris was on the water, 77 percent of interview
respondents reported “little” or “no debris”. The natural environment (bluffs,
trees, water, undeveloped shore) were the most commonly cited scenic attributes
by all survey respondents. Man-made scenic features included the State Park
(general and gazebo), bridges, and lighthouse near Ferry Bridge.
• Site users indicated that water levels were just right. Appalachian holds the lake
levels within a 1-foot range from April 15 through October 15. Only 2 percent of
site users felt “unsafe” or “very unsafe”, citing reasons that included the condition
of the dock, vandalism, congestion, lighting, and uneven/steep surfaces. Marina
owners indicated that lake levels in the spring are too low and pose a risk to
clients who store boats at the marinas.
• The New River is a popular river for anglers and is considered the top small
mouth bass fishery in the state. The river is also visited by thousands of tourists
and college students looking to swim, float, canoe, kayak, and fish. Most of the
New River is easily accessible and river front camps, recreational vehicle
campgrounds, private cabins, residents, and businesses provide users with
lodging, access, guide services, and equipment to enjoy the river.
• New River flows and effects on recreation groups was initially explored in this
study; however the low water year obscured users perceptions to make conclusive
statements of how user groups are affected by various flows. Appalachian and the
study team agreed that additional study was needed. As such, additional study
plan was composed and approved by FERC that addressed the effects of flows on
recreation user groups. The findings of that study are reported under a separate
cover.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final x October 2008
The data obtained as part of this study were used as the basis for making the study
recommendations. Key recommendations of the study are:

• Upgrade existing boat launches with better maintenance (clean up shoreline to


provide bank angling), update courtesy piers (Dublin and Lowman’s Ferry); and
expand parking for trailers at Harry DeHaven County Park.
• Consider installing restrooms/toilets at selected public access sites.
• Maintain the lands across from the State Park as naturally vegetated and
undeveloped to protect the scenic resources in the area. Create more bank angling
opportunities.
• Consider the scenic value of undeveloped lands when developing the shoreline
management plan and incorporate measures to protect those areas with significant
scenic value.
• When water is available and in consultation with appropriate agencies, continue to
provide a drawdown that affords shoreline property owners an opportunity to
maintain their shoreline.
• Provide future boat access (if and when proposed) in low–density boating areas.
• Share release (flow) information with the public for New River trip planning
purposes.
• Develop a Recreation Management Plan in consultation with the Study Team.
• When submitting Form 80, continue to include a brief description of methods
used to calculate annual estimated use.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final xi October 2008
1.0 INTRODUCTION
Appalachian Power Company (Appalachian) is making application to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a new license for the Claytor Hydroelectric Project (No.
739), located on the New River in southwestern Virginia. The process selected by Appalachian
for applying for a new license is the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP), as defined under the
rules and regulations of the FERC (18 CFR Part 5). As part of this licensing process,
Appalachian solicited input from stakeholders, including governmental agencies and non-
governmental organizations, to identify potential project-related issues that should be addressed
during the licensing process.

Appalachian prepared a draft Pre-Application Document (PAD) (Appalachian, 2006) that


listed issues identified to date, and on October 14, 2005, submitted that document to the
stakeholders for review and comment. Following revisions resulting from a review of the
comments received, the PAD was filed with the FERC on January 6, 2006. In that document,
Appalachian presented available information addressing each identified relicensing issue, and
also presented its position regarding issues needing further study. Study plans have been
prepared to address issues needing further study. The Initial Study Plan Meetings were held July
19 and 20, 2006. The Recreation workgroup met on August 21, 2006 and the Angler Use
workgroup met on August 22, 2006.

As part of this process and in consultation with stakeholders, Appalachian developed a


study plan to conduct a 9-month study to obtain information to characterize existing recreation
resources and use at the Claytor Project. On October 16, 2006, Appalachian filed with FERC
revised study plans for the work required for the Claytor Lake recreation assessment. By letter
dated November 17, 2006, FERC’s Director of the Office of Energy Projects issued the FERC’s
Study Plan Determination for the Claytor Project, approving the study plans with modifications.
This report addresses recreation site inventory and use requirements as set forth in Chapter 1,
Subpart F, Section 4.51, of 18 CFR, and lays the foundation for the development of recreation-
related protection, mitigation, and enhancement measures as part of the relicensing process. This
recreation assessment report is based on data collected from March 1, 2007, to November 30,
2007, by The Louis Berger Group, Inc. (Berger).

1.1 Project Description


The Claytor Project is an existing conventional hydroelectric project located on the New
River in Pulaski County, Virginia (figure 1). The Claytor Project has four generating units with
a combined generating capacity of 75 megawatts (MW). The Claytor dam has a maximum
height of 137 feet above the streambed. Claytor Lake, the project reservoir, has a surface area of
4,472 acres at the normal full pond elevation of 1,846.0 feet (National Geodetic Vertical Datum
[NGVD]) and approximately 100 miles of shoreline.

The Claytor Project is generally operated on a weekly peaking cycle from October 16 to
April 14 with typical reservoir fluctuations of about 1 foot daily and about 2 feet weekly, and is
operated to provide a minimum average daily flow below the dam of 750 cubic feet per second
(cfs). From April 15 through June 15 the Project is operated to maintain reservoir elevations at
or above 1,844 feet to protect spawning habitat for shallow-water, shoreline spawning fishes.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 1 October 2008
Also, during the recreation season (April 15 to October 15), Appalachian voluntarily operates the
Project to maintain more constant downstream flows to enhance downstream recreation
opportunities by limiting peaking operations and maintaining the reservoir elevations between
1,845 and 1,846 feet. In the fall/winter period the reservoir is typically drawn down about 5 feet
for about 2 weeks to allow for maintenance repairs of docks, bulkheads, and boat ramps.

Recreation facilities at the Claytor Project include boat launches, fishing areas, picnic
areas, swimming beaches, camping sites, visitor center, and marinas. Figure 2 shows the public
and commercial access areas within the Claytor Project boundary. In addition, numerous private
boat docks are located along the lake.

Below Claytor dam, river recreation opportunities along the New River include boating,
fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, inner-tubing, scuba diving, and picnicking. There are
13 public access areas between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF)
boat ramp below Claytor dam and the U.S. 460 Bridge at Glen Lyn, as well as numerous pull-
outs, private homes, campgrounds, and commercial float trip outfitters located along or operating
on the New River. Figure 3 shows the public river access areas, which include (from upstream
to downstream): Riverview Park, Dudley’s Landing, Peppers Ferry Bridge (Rt. 114),
Whitethorne, McCoy, Eggleston, Pembroke, Ripplemead, Bluff City, Narrows 1 & 2, Rich
Creek, and Glen Lyn.

There are several estimates of recreation use of the Project and neighboring state parks
over the last 10 years. Recent recreational use estimates were provided in Appalachian’s April
1997 and 2003 filings of the FERC Form 80 Reports. During 1996, peak weekend recreational
use at the Project was estimated at 375,000 recreation days (day and night combined). In 2002, a
consultant estimated total annual recreational use at the Project at 401,400 recreation days, based
on spot counts and applying a 7 percent population growth projection to the 1996 recreational
use estimates. Also in 2002, state park rangers estimated recreational visitor numbers at the New
River Trail State Park and Claytor Lake State Park at 1.1 million and 300,000 visitors,
respectively. Existing use or activity estimates are not available for the New River below
Claytor dam to Glen Lyn. One of the purposes of this study is to provide a more precise estimate
of recreation use at the Project and New River downstream to Glen Lyn.

1.2 Study Development and Consultation


The Recreation and Angler Use study was developed by Berger in consultation with
Appalachian’s Recreation Study Team (Study Team), which is studying issues related to lake
access, recreational use and facilities, safety, and aesthetic resources. Each study was conducted
under the purview of a Study Team consisting of agency staff, stakeholders, and Appalachian
staff having experience in recreation resources. The study teams include representatives of
Appalachian, the state resource agencies, federal resource agencies, and non-agency stakeholders
who represent the basic resource areas of water quality, water quantity, recreation, fish and
wildlife, and cultural resources. The study teams review and provide input to Appalachian to
refine study lists, study plans, and reports; draft license applications; and other relicensing
documents. Appalachian must file its license application on or before June 30, 2009.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 2 October 2008
1.3 Purpose and Study Area
As defined in the FERC-approved recreation assessment study plan, the purpose of the
recreation use and angler use study is to provide baseline recreation information relevant to the
Claytor Project and to define potential Project-related operational and environmental effects.
The key topic areas of the study included an inventory of existing recreational facilities,
assessment of existing recreational use, assessment of future recreational demand, and
assessment of boating density associated with the project reservoirs. Following are the key
objectives related to each topic area.

Recreation Site Inventory


1. Identify existing information on recreation resources and update existing data
through site assessment and consultation with public and private recreation
providers.
2. Provide a general regional recreation characterization of the water-oriented
recreational opportunities within 60 miles of the Claytor Project.
3. Provide an inventory of public and private waterfront recreational sites/facilities
within and adjacent to the Claytor Lake project boundary, which includes a
VDGIF-managed boat ramp immediately downstream of Claytor dam.
4. Create detailed Geographic Information System (GIS) based map layers denoting
recreation sites/facilities.
5. Prepare a recreation sites/facilities inventory summarizing the information
collected.

Recreation Use and Needs Assessment


1. Collect information regarding recreational use (including active and passive
recreation types) and user preferences at existing formal and informal public
access sites in the project area and tailrace.
2. Collect information regarding recreational use and user preferences by shoreline
residents and potential users of the project area.
3. Characterize existing and potential recreational uses in the project area by season,
activity, and time of day.
4. Characterize user preferences and identified needs.
5. Evaluate recreational needs in the project area, including the need for a portage
around the dam, and identify and assess potential impacts on downstream and
reservoir-based recreation due to the project, its operations, or proposed
modifications.
6. Identify sites that are approaching capacity or are in need of repair or upgrading.
7. Identify places, objects, or conditions that aesthetically compromise the
recreational experience at the Project.
8. Identify key aesthetic areas that add to the recreation experience at Claytor Lake.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 3 October 2008
9. Summarize recreation use/demand from the information collected and the
recreational use and needs assessment.
10. Quantify recreational use, demographics, and expenditures associated with the
Claytor Project and downstream of the dam to the U.S. 460 bridge at Glen Lyn.
Describe how recreation spending could change under different project operation
scenarios.

Future Recreational Use Assessment


1. Collect information regarding local and regional population trends and trends in
recreation activities throughout the project area.
2. Document trends in future recreation, using accepted literature to make use
estimates.
3. Estimate future demand (by activity) at the Claytor Project.
4. Prepare a future use/demand summary explaining the methods, assumptions, and
baseline conditions for the future estimates and study results.
5. Identify if and where new public access facilities are needed and identify any
facilities that are not effectively providing recreational opportunities.

Existing Boating Density Analysis


1. Collect information on the number and location of watercraft using Claytor Lake
at various times throughout the summer.
2. Document popular boating areas and proximity to access points.
3. Integrate into the recreation use report the results of boating density analysis and
the visitor crowding and safety perceptions from interviews and mail
questionnaires.
4. Create a map of the reservoir showing a boating density gradient of the level of
boating occurring on the reservoir.
5. Supply GIS files for utilization by other relicensing workgroups.

Angler Use Survey


1. Quantify angler effort, catch, harvest, and demographic data related to Claytor
Lake and the VDGIF boat ramp immediately downstream of Claytor dam.

The geographic scope of the recreational assessment, as defined in the FERC-approved


study plan, is confined to areas within or directly adjacent to the project boundary for the Claytor
Project as well as public access points along the New River from Claytor dam downstream to the
U.S. Highway 460 bridge near the town of Glen Lyn. The project boundary for Claytor Lake
basically follows the 1,850-foot (NGVD) elevation contour.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 4 October 2008
Claytor Project.
Figure 1.
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Draft 5 October 2008
Figure 2. Public and commercial access areas within Claytor Project boundary.
Recreation Assessment Study Report Draft
Claytor Lake
6
October 2008
New River access sites.
Figure 3.
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Draft 7 October 2008
2.0 METHODS
This section describes the methods used for site identification, data collection, and data
analysis during the 2007 study period. Berger conducted research and collected recreational
facility data to assess both regional and Project study area recreational opportunities. Data
collection methods included a literature review, site inventory visits, access site interviews,
access site spot counts, mail surveys, and traffic counters (table 1). The following sections
describe each data collection method and when it was used.

Table 1. Data collection methods.


Targeted User or
Method Type of Site Where and When Used
Literature Review Regional recreation Regional recreation sites within 50-60 miles of
sites Project (June 2007)
Site Inventory Project area recreation Inventory of Project area site attributes
Visits sites (October – November 2007)
Access Site Access site users Access sites
Interviews (March – November 2007)
Spot Counts Access site users Access sites
(March – November 2007)
Shoreline Owner Property owners Claytor Lake
Mail Surveys adjacent to Project (April – October 2007)
boundary
Regional Mail Regional residents Carroll, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and
Surveys Wythe counties, and the city of Radford, VA
(April – October 2007)
Traffic Counters Access site users 4 access sites
(March – November 2007)

2.1 Literature Review of Regional Resources


To establish a regional context for the recreation study, Berger gathered information on
the names and types of water-oriented recreational facilities and opportunities (e.g., fishing,
swimming, and boating) within the 6 counties near the Project (Carroll, Floyd, Giles,
Montgomery, Pulaski, Wythe), as well as the city of Radford; all within 50-60 miles of the
Project. There are no river segments that have been or are proposed to be designated under the
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Public Law 90-542, as amended) nor are there any wilderness
areas, as defined in the Wilderness Preservation Act (Public Law 88-577).

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 8 October 2008
In addition to sources recommended by the Study Team, Berger used sources that
included area guidebooks; regional maps; publications from federal, state, county, and city
entities responsible for providing or documenting regional recreational opportunities (VADCR,
2002; DeLorme, 2005); and the World Wide Web.

2.2 Recreational Site Inventory


A recreation facility inventory form was developed and filled out for each recreation area
located within the study area. Appendix A includes a copy of the facility inventory form. The
inventory form was filled out with information obtained from Appalachian staff, state park
managers, and through on-site observations by Berger staff. Data gathered about each recreation
area includes general site information (location, owner, type of facility, acreage), operational
information (gated, staffed, fees, hours of operation), parking information (number and surface
type), boating information (number of boat ramps and surface type), site facilities information
(type and number of facilities), trail information (length and surface), camping information (type,
number, and acreage), types of fishing opportunities (type and number), assessment of
Americans with Disabilities Act facilities (number and type); other activities available
(swimming beach/acreage, visitor center), and site conditions (signage, overall condition,
accessibility).

2.3 Access Site Interviews


On-site interviews at public access areas were conducted from March through November
2007 to assess the existing recreation use and perceived recreation needs within the Claytor
Project study area from a variety of user types. Appendix C includes a copy of the interview
form and summary data for each question. Access sites were sampled using a stratified random
sampling scheme, such as by month, time of day, and location. Within the Project boundary, a
sampling day either begins one-half hour after sunrise or ends one-half hour before sunset,
focusing on either the morning (AM) or afternoon (PM) time period. Fourteen (14) weekdays
and 6 weekend days were randomly selected for spot counts and interviews each month. Sites
around Claytor Lake within the Project boundary were divided into 2 sampling groups: Group 1
included Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin, Harry DeHaven, and the New River below dam site,
while Group 2 included Allisonia, Lowman’s Ferry Bridge, and the Conrad Brothers Marine and
Rock House Marina.

Berger conducted 866 exit interviews with visitors using the Claytor Lake public
recreation areas between March 1, 2007 and November 30, 2007 (table 2). As determined in the
Study Plan, this period should capture the majority of recreation use. The period between
Memorial Day and Labor Day is referred to as the peak recreation season. The interviews were
used to collect data on people’s use of recreation sites within the study area, their attitudes
concerning recreation needs and opportunities, safety-related issues, and demographic
information. Interviews were conducted at 7 formal public recreation areas (Appalachian-owned
as well as state and local recreation areas) and 2 commercial marinas within the project
boundary. Access site interviews were also conducted at the 13 public access areas along the
New River.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 9 October 2008
2.4 Access Site Spot Counts
Sampling methods for access site spot counts were the same as those outlined in section
2.3, Access Site Interviews. Berger conducted 607 spot counts at recreation sites around Claytor
Lake throughout the study period, in concert with the interviews described above. Table 2 shows
the number of days spot counts were made at each site. Information recorded in spot counts
included the date and time, the amount of parking lot/boat ramp/trailer parking capacity in use,
the number and type of activities being engaged in, and state license plate data. Appendix D
includes a copy of the spot count data form and summary data for each question.

Table 2. Number of interviews, spot count, and traffic counts collected.


Number of Traffic
Number of Number of Spot Counter Days
Study Area Interviews Counts (Number of Counters)
Claytor Lake 866 607 911 (4a)
New River 541 427 n/a
Total 1,407 1,034 911
a
The counters at Dublin Access and Harry DeHaven County Park were inoperable from June 2 through
September 2.

2.5 Traffic Counters


Electronic TRAFx brand traffic counters were installed at public access sites around the
Claytor Project on March 8 after the snow and ice allowed installation of the devices at the
beginning of the study. The sites with traffic counters in place to record data at Claytor Lake
included (from upstream to downstream): Conrad Brothers Marine, Rock House Marina, Harry
DeHaven County Park, and Dublin Access. State park staff used their own traffic recording
efforts to make traffic counts at Claytor Lake State Park and Allisonia Boat Ramp, and they
provided that data to Berger for this study. Table 2 summarizes the total number of days, Berger
traffic counters were recording data and the number of counters deployed specifically for this
study around the Project.

At the Lowman’s Ferry (Shop EZ) and VDGIF-New River access areas within the
Claytor Project boundary, reliable traffic counts were not possible with the TRAFx system
because the configuration of the entries is not appropriate for the TRAFx system. The counter
technology captures changes in magnetic fields -- when a vehicle is near the counter, it registers
a count. If a vehicle was stopped near the counter, waiting to merge onto a highway (which is
the case at these two sites), the counter would continue to count the vehicle, which would result
in a serious over count. Therefore, no traffic counters were deployed to these two sites. Use
estimates for these sites were developed from spot counts and interviews and the application of a
site turnover rate, which is discussed in more detail in section 2.10, Current Use Estimate.
Appendix J includes a chart of recorded traffic data with summary statistics.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 10 October 2008
2.6 Shoreline Owner Mail Survey
The level of project use by shoreline property owners or owners with deeded access
through a homeowners’ association or condominium complex was assessed through a mailed
questionnaire. Table 3 shows the estimated number of waterfront parcels within Pulaski County
and the representative number of surveys that were distributed. Based on the total number of
parcels surrounding the project and a conservative return rate estimate of 35 percent, a random
population of 1,100 shoreline residents was mailed questionnaires to achieve results at the 95
percent confidence level with a 5 percent confidence interval. Of the 1,100 mailed surveys, 29
were returned as undeliverable. The first mailing was sent out in early September after Labor
Day to capture residents’ use for the most current year while meeting the Recreation Assessment
Study schedule. The surveys allow use estimates from the shoreline population with private
access to the lake. Results were integrated into the total use estimates from the interviews and
regional use questionnaires described below. Appendix E includes a copy of the shoreline owner
questionnaire and summary data for each question.

Table 3. Distribution of shoreline owner mail surveys.


Number of Surveys
returned as
Number of Surveys undeliverable as of
County Shoreline Parcels Mailed November 30, 2007
Pulaski 1,215 1,100 29

2.7 Regional Resident Mail Survey


To capture information from a regional perspective concerning the amount of use,
activity types, perceptions of crowding and safety, and other competing water-based recreation
areas, a representative sample of residents of Carroll, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and
Wythe counties and the city of Radford received a mailed survey. Questionnaires were mailed
out in early September after Labor Day to capture the most current recreation season while
meeting the Recreational Assessment Study schedule. Survey results were integrated into the
total use and demand estimate for the Claytor Project.

The recreational survey distribution rate was based on weighted populations of the
various jurisdictions and was developed from 2006 population estimates published by the U.S.
Census Bureau (the most recent estimates available at the time of the mailing). The sampling
size was designed to achieve results at the 95 percent confidence level with a 5 percent
confidence interval based on the total population of the 6 counties and the city of Radford.
Based on these criteria and a conservative estimated response rate of 35 percent, it was
determined that 1,100 surveys would need to be distributed. Table 4 shows the county and city
populations, the percent of the total population living in each county and city, and the number of
surveys sent out. After 2 weeks, a follow-up post card was mailed to encourage residents to
respond to the survey. Table 5 provides survey response rate data. Appendix F includes a copy
of the questionnaire and summary data for each question.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 11 October 2008
Table 4. Distribution of regional resident surveys.
County Populationa Percent of total population Number of Surveys Sent
Carroll 29,450 13 144
Floyd 14,790 7 73
Giles 17,400 8 85
Montgomery 84,540 38 414
Pulaski 35,055 16 172
Radford Cityb 14,525 6 71
Wythe 28,640 13 140
Total 224,400 100 1,100
a
2006 U.S. Census estimates
b
The city of Radford is an independent city not included in county estimates.

Table 5. Survey response rates.


Total Potential Response Response
Number Number Returns Rate of Rate of
Number Returned Returned (Subtracting Number Number
Location Mailed Undeliverable Complete Undeliverables) Mailed Delivered
Shoreline 1,100 29 399 1,071 36.3 37.3
Regional 1,100 24 179 1,076 16.3 16.6
Total 2,200 53 578 2,147 26.3 27

2.8 Commercial or Private Facility Visitation Estimates


Claytor Lake has three commercial operations that provide access and recreation
opportunities to the public that are different from public access points (e.g., docks, dry boat
storage, fuel, pump-out services, convenience items, food and restaurants, and/or other ancillary
services). To capture the amount of use at commercial facilities, the services offered, the number
of amenities, peak seasons, and percent capacity, Berger deployed traffic counters at Conrad
Brothers Marine and Rock House Marina to help determine traffic patterns and also conducted
interviews and spot counts at the marinas. In addition, both the owners of Conrad Brothers
Marine and Rock House Marina were contacted to provide general information concerning types
of use and levels of use. Visitation was ultimately estimated using the turnover method
described above. The commercial service at Claytor Lake State Park is operated by a
concessionaire within the park. The concessionaire was not contacted or surveyed for additional
use information because any use numbers the concessionaire could provide would be redundant
with the overall numbers supplied by the park personnel, who estimated use from entry fees.

2.9 Boat Counts


The Recreational Assessment Study also includes a characterization of the amount and
location of watercraft on the water at various times between April and October. In consultation
with Appalachian and the study team, aerial flights were scheduled for 8 weekends, 4 weekdays
and the Saturday during Labor Day weekend. Oblique aerial photographs were taken between
11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on 13 different days. Table 6 shows the dates when boats were photo-

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 12 October 2008
documented. The locations of the watercraft in the aerial photos were digitized into GIS
software for density analysis.

Table 6. Dates of aerial flights to document boating on Claytor Lake and New River.
Run
Number Day Type Date Include New River
1 Weekend Saturday April 21 Yes
2 Weekday Monday May 21
3 Weekend Sunday June 10
4 Weekend Saturday June 30
5 Weekend Saturday July 14
6 Weekday Thursday July 26
7 Weekend Sunday July 29 Yes
8 Weekday Wednesday August 15
9 Weekend Sunday August 19
10 Weekend Sunday August 26
11 Holiday Monday September 3
12 Weekday Thursday September 13
13 Weekend Saturday October 20 Yes

Boating density grids were created to indicate the locations where the highest levels of
boating use were occurring within the Project boundary from May through October. Boating
density grids were calculated for all flights. The method for calculating the boat density in acres
per boat for a specific lake on a specific day is as follows:

Boating density was calculated using the ESRI ArcGIS 9.2 Spatial Analyst density
function with the following parameters:

• The grid output extent parameter was selected to be the same as the specific lake
extent because the density for the specific lake is being calculated.

• A 50 x 50 foot grid cell size was selected because this cell size is small enough
that the resulting density maps don't look grainy but is large enough to keep data
processing time at a practical level.

• 0.75 mile was selected for the radius parameter to smooth the GPS data to show
general boat use density patterns that are easily interpreted. It is useful to smooth
the specific GPS data for the following 2 reasons:

1. The boat location data were collected using oblique aerial photography,
therefore the boat locations could be digitized only at a relatively small
scale.

2. Boats are not static, but are often moving while the data are being
collected.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 13 October 2008
• The kernel density parameter was selected to create a smoother and more easily
interpreted density grid.

The resulting grid indicates density in boats per square mile. This grid was revised to
take into account that some of the 0.75-mile radii around many of the grid cells included land
areas. The original grid in boats per total area was divided by the proportion of available water
surface area to total surface area, so that the resulting grid would be in boats per square mile of
surface water. Finally, the grid was converted to acres per boat to obtain the final boating
density maps. Appendix I includes the boating density and spatial distribution of watercraft
recorded during the fly over’s using oblique aerial photography.

2.10 Current Use Estimate


Recreation access to areas within or adjacent to the Project is provided through: 1) public
access areas (e.g., boat ramps, parks, etc); 2) shoreline residences; or 3) commercial facilities
(e.g., marinas). Visitation estimates are limited by the survey methods and the time period
targeted with each method. For example, surveys of shoreline property owners were designed to
capture information from the entire preceding year, while data gathering at public access sites
occurred only from March through November. The undercount associated with not having use
estimates for January, February, and December 2007 is expected to be small because boat access
during the winter is subject to weather conditions, especially when ice forms around the lake.

Visitation estimates to public access sites were based on traffic count data for 2 of the
inventoried sites, site observations of the number of vehicles, average group size information
from the interviews, and a turn over ratio developed from the average trip duration for 4 of the 9
inventoried access points. Use estimates from Claytor Lake State Park and the Appalachian
group picnic area were obtained from the site managers who track visitation. Claytor Lake State
Park tracks entry fees (among other camping and overnight fees) while Appalachian uses a
reservation system that requires the renter to indicate the event size. The Allisonia boat ramp use
estimate was based on vehicle count information, which is tracked by the New River Trail State
Park. The New River Trail State Park shared the vehicle count information with Berger, and the
count was multiplied by the average group size from interviews obtained at the site. We discuss
this in more detail in section 4.1.

Visitation estimates to public access sites throughout the Project for the off season
(January 1 to February 28 and December 1-31, 2007) were based on actual visitation estimates
recorded at Claytor Lake State Park, New River Trail State Park (Allisonia), Harry DeHaven,
and Dublin public access sites. Use at these sites during the off season averaged 7 percent of the
balance of the year. This 7 percent estimate for off-season use was then applied to all the other
access areas to estimate their off-season use. Use during this period is assumed to be fishing
related because the water temperatures are assumed to be too cold to support swimming, water
skiing, etc. However, the lake does occasionally receive a freeze deep enough to preclude
launches at the boat ramps. Fishing is allowed year round at the Project; however there are no
big name tournaments that would draw outsiders to fish.

Many shoreline property owners enjoy direct access to Project waters via their own dock,
pier, or swimming area. Furthermore, because a large proportion of this population of potential
users lives at their shoreline property, they have year-round access to passive recreation activities
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 14 October 2008
such as watching wildlife, birding, etc. To isolate which activities people participate in during
the year and to increase the accuracy in the visitation estimate, people were asked to estimate
how many days of each activity they participated in during the year as well as to estimate the
number of days that they participate in multiple activities during a day. Visitation estimates are
based on shoreline survey responses to questions related to the average group size of parties
when recreating at the Project and the estimate of the total number of days they used the Project
within the last year. The estimate was developed for the returned surveys and extrapolated to the
percentage of shoreline owners who use the Project within the year and the estimated number of
shoreline parcels.

2.11 Future Estimated Use


Future recreation demand at public access sites at the Claytor Project was evaluated by
assessing future demand for recreation activities and population trends for the expected term of
the new license (to year 2050). Population estimates for the counties surrounding the project are
from the U.S. Census and are assessed in the context of population and recreational activity
growth estimates from Outdoor Recreation in American Life; A National Assessment of Demand
and Supply Trends (Cordell, et al., 1999). Future use estimates were developed starting from the
baseline of the existing public use estimates detailed in section 4.1. The current public use
estimate was multiplied by the percentage of respondents primary activities creating activity day
estimates.

Future use estimates were developed by first calibrating Cordell’s future population
growth estimates to population estimates for the study region counties and the city of Radford.
This adjusted the population growth estimates in Cordell’s model from regional growth to local,
Project-specific population growth. Next, this ratio was multiplied by Cordell’s growth index for
each activity to produce a Project-specific activity growth index, which was then multiplied by
the current activity use estimates. For example, if Cordell’s population estimate for the region
for the next 10 years is 9 percent while the estimated population growth of the study region is
only 6 percent, the ratio between these percents was applied to the estimated growth in each
activity to account for the over estimation in Cordell’s population estimates. Estimates were
then checked against the VDCR 2007 SCORP for consistency and appropriateness, and expected
trends in participation rates and total number of estimated recreation days predicted for the New
River Valley. Estimates were projected out to year 2050.

2.12 New River Public Access Characterization


New River was divided into 3 sampling strata: upper, middle, and lower sampling zones.
Each zone had between 4 and 5 public access points as shown in figure 3. Sampling was
conducted 9 days a month with equal weight given to each zone. Six (6) weekend and 3
weekday days were randomly selected for spot counts and interviews. Information was collected
over an 8-hour sampling day with start times weighted one-third in the morning and two-thirds in
the afternoon over the entire study, with each sample day focusing within 1 of the 3 zones. Due
to the dispersed nature of recreation within the New River corridor, sampling between access
points was designed to include a rolling spot count of vehicles and people to capture as much of
the dispersed use as possible. Much of the river is accessible from frontage roads, which
afforded the sampling clerk opportunities to make short stops to count vehicles and people.
Dispersed access occurs primarily between Dudley’s Landing and Peppers Ferry Bridge (Rt.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 15 October 2008
114), McCoy and Eggleston, and Pembroke and Bluff City. The time at each access site was
calculated as the sampling day length, minus driving time between sites, minus 1 hour of
counting and interviewing users between sites. Starting locations were chosen at random and the
direction of travel was determined by a coin flip. To reduce bias in sampling directions and
timing, no two starting points were used within the same month. Appendix G includes a copy of
the questionnaire and summary data for each question while Appendix H includes a copy of the
New River spot count form and data summary for each question..

2.13 Angler Use


Angler effort, catch, and harvest at Claytor Lake within the Project boundary was
assessed using a roving creel survey on Claytor Lake and a single stop survey at the New River
boat launch below Claytor dam. The study methods were developed in consultation with the
study team and consisted of on-water interview and angler counts on 10 days each month from
March through November. Anglers were intercepted during their fishing trip and asked a series
of questions related to their angling experience. To ensure the data analysis would be consistent
with VDGIF methods and understanding of roving creel surveys performed on other reservoirs
throughout the state, VDGIF creel experts volunteered to process the data through their creel
models. Once processed, the results were to be returned to Berger for reporting to the study
team.

Claytor Lake was divided into two stratums/sampling units and sampling occurred within
1 unit per sampling day. Interviews, boat counts, and bank and pier angler surveys were
conducted at Claytor Lake State Park and Harry DeHaven County Park. The study used VDGIF-
recommended sampling weights for each zone and time period. Five (5) weekdays and 5
weekend days a month were randomly selected among the 2 sampling units (10 sampling days
total per month). Sampling was conducted on Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Each
survey day was classified as either morning (A.M.) or afternoon (P.M.) with start times weighted
30 percent in the morning and 70 percent in the afternoon. The length of the survey day was
determined by the average amount of daylight for the month minus one-half hour after sunrise
and one-half hour before sunset and divided by 2. At a randomly chosen time at the beginning,
middle, or end, of each sampling day, the entire sampling unit was patrolled and all boats and
shoreline anglers actively engaged in angling were counted and recorded. In addition, all boats
and personal watercraft in the sampling unit not actively engaged in angling were counted and
recorded. Angler use below Claytor dam to the VDGIF Claytor Landing access site was
collected under the same schedule as the interviews and spot counts discussed in section 2.3.
Appendix K includes a copy of the questionnaire and count form with summary data for each
recording tool.

2.14 Data Limitations


Fulfilling the study plan requirements as approved by FERC requires knowledgeable
staff, proper field equipment, and adequate study design. Field work by its very nature is subject
to unexpected challenges in all three of these areas, and a good study can continue in the face of
these challenges. In completing this study, three facets of the data collection effort were not
executed as planned: (1) spot counts and interviews were made on less than the prescribed
number of dates during April and May, (2) traffic counters malfunctioned at Dublin and Harry
DeHaven County Park from June 6th to September 2, 2007, and (3) evidence was presented to

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 16 October 2008
indicate that evening tournaments and night angling were occurring but were not being captured
by the creel surveys.

Concerning the low spot counts in the spring, the study plan prescribed that every access
site would receive a spot count 10 days each month (8 sites x 10 days/month = 80 counts/month).
However, in 2007 there were just 28 and 25 counts in April and May, respectively (table 7). The
smaller sample size in April and May provides less-than-planned accuracy in understanding the
activities and amount of use at the sites. To reduce the negative effect on the study, we evaluated
climate conditions, traffic count information, and the information gathered in the spot counts and
interviews from both the recreation and angler use surveys to characterize activities and use
levels.

• Water temperatures during these months are relatively cool, and there were no
observations of wet recreation activities such as swimming and jet skiing until the
end of May. Thus, it appears that those activities occurred rarely or not at all in
April and May, and thus were not undercounted despite the lower-than-planned
number of spot counts.

• Traffic counts were available to help characterize levels of use even when there
were fewer spot counts than planned.

• From the interviews that were collected (see table 8), the primary activity between
March and June was angling (boat and bank). Review of the traffic count data for
sites during these months suggests that use was increasing as summer approached,
which is consistent with the spot counts taken at the sites as part of the recreation
use portion of the study and on the water as part of the angler use portion of the
study.

Thus, even with a reduced sample size in April and May, the characterization of activities
and use levels could be derived from other sources. As such, we conclude that low spot counts
and interviews do not compromise our study results or lead us to conclude that additional
sampling is necessary.

Table 7. Spot counts recorded at Claytor Project access areas in April and May by
location.
April May
Site Name Total
5 6 9 10 11 17 25 8 16 17 23 29 31
Allisonia 1 1 1 1 4
Lowman’s Ferry 1 1 1 1 4
Conrad Brothers Marine 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
Rock House Marina 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
Harry DeHaven County Park 1 1 1 1 4
Dublin 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
Claytor Lake State Park 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
VDGIF Ramp Below Dam 1 1 1 1 1 5
Total 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 4 4 53

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 17 October 2008
Table 8. Number of interviews recorded in April and May by location.
Location April May
Allisonia
Lowman’s Ferry 2
Conrad Brothers Marine 1
Rock House Marina 4
Harry DeHaven County Park 1 7
Dublin 4 16
Claytor Lake State Park 6 6
VDGIF Ramp Below Dam 3
Total 11 39

Concerning the malfunctioning of traffic counters installed at Dublin and Harry DeHaven
County Parks, it appears that the counters were improperly handled, resulting in zero data
collection at those two sites during the peak recreation months. Traffic counters are one of the
tools identified in the study plan to help characterize the levels and timing of use at the sites. To
reduce the impact of these malfunctions on the study, we examined use levels recorded during
spot counts and interview information from site users. Spot counts are snapshot recordings of
the amount of use (number of people and vehicles at-one-time) and provide use numbers for a
given date. This is the same data source we relied on for sites that did not have traffic counters
installed at all. Use at the sites with no traffic counters was estimated using the average group
size, the average number of vehicles recorded during weekdays and weekends, and the turnover
rate (a rate that accounts for people coming and going throughout the day, derived from trip
duration information recorded in the interviews). Spot counts are actually more informative than
total traffic volumes recorded by traffic counters because they provide an instantaneous count of
a facility’s capacity. As such, the use of spot counts during the months of missing traffic data
provides enough information to characterize the levels of use at these two sites.

During the Angler Use portion of the study, it became apparent from interviews, field
observations, and conversations with marina owners that night anglers may not be adequately
represented in the study. VDGIF first raised this issue during study plan development because
Claytor Lake receives notable amounts of night fishing and there are numerous tournaments that
start in the evenings after the creel survey is finished for the day. At the time, it was agreed that
any night fishing would be underestimated by executing the study plan as it was approved.
However, the study group agreed that night fishing was probably a small percentage of overall
use and that the study need not compromise safety in order to try and capture this use. As of
now, the creel surveys are missing this specific user group.

Short periods of less than prescribed data collection as described above do not
compromise the integrity of this study. The benefits of having a study with redundancies in the
methodology is protection from shortcomings in the data collection from one source (e.g., traffic
counters). Fortunately, in this study the use of different data sources provides insight into the
recreation resources when one of the data collection tools is compromised. Examination of the
use levels estimated in this study finds that they are comparable with use levels estimated in
1997 and 2003, which supports the legitimacy of our findings.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 18 October 2008
3.0 SUMMARY OF RECREATION RESOURCES

3.1 Regional Recreation Resources


In consultation with the work group, Berger chose the counties adjacent to the Project as
well as the city of Radford, an area within a 60-mile radius of the Project, to provide a regional
context for recreational opportunities provided at the Project. All points in the region are
generally within a 1-hour drive of the Project (figure 4) and provide recreationists a wide variety
of recreational opportunities from which to choose. This context is also supported by the recent
Virginia Outdoor Survey (2006), which concluded that the average driving time for
motorboating and other water-based recreation activities was about 1 hour. The Project is
located on the New River in southwest Virginia in Pulaski County (see figure 14). The area
supports a wide range of recreational opportunities including fishing areas, hiking trails, scenic
highways, paddling/canoeing areas, boat launches, and swim opportunities.

There are no river segments that have been designated or are currently proposed to be
designated under the Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Public Law 90-542, as amended) nor
are there any wilderness areas, as defined in the Wilderness Preservation Act (Public Law 88-
577), near the Claytor Project. However, an approximately 20-mile section of the New River
straddling the Virginia/West Virginia border from Glen Lyn to the high water mark of Bluestone
Lake in West Virginia is currently being studied to determine if this section should be added to
the National Park Service Wild and Scenic Rivers System (NPS, 2008). The closest existing
Wild and Scenic River is the New River Gorge beyond Bluestone Reservoir in West Virginia.
The closest public federal lands to the Project are associated with the George Washington and
Jefferson National Forests and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bluestone Lake downstream in
West Virginia.

There are a number of other rivers, lakes, and reservoirs in the New River Valley and
Piedmont region of Virginia that supply a variety of water-based recreational opportunities,
including Smith Mountain Lake, Leesville Lake, Philpot Lake, Carvin Cove Reservoir, and
Elkhorn Reservoir in Virginia and Bluestone Lake, Knapp Creek, Flat Top Lake, and R.D. Baily
Lake in West Virginia. Regional survey responses concerning the other lakes where people
choose to recreate are discussed in section 7.0, Regional Residents.

County and local governments and the private sector also provide many recreational
opportunities within the region. The counties within the study region offer a variety of
opportunities generally tailored to the local population. Facilities include parks with playing
fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreational features.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 19 October 2008
Claytor Project.
Figure 4.
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 20 October 2008
3.2 Project Area Recreation Resources
A wide variety of regionally and locally important recreational opportunities are available
at sites within the Project area, including opportunities at public, commercial, and private
facilities. Although the public sites are the primary focus of this recreational site inventory and
visitor survey, brief information is also provided about the commercial and private sites that
provide recreation-oriented facilities and services. Figure 2 above shows the locations of public
and commercial access sites relative to the lakes and local highways and access roads. Public
access areas are identified by name (keyed to descriptions in Appendix A and listed in table 7).

3.2.1 Public Recreation Resources


Table 9 summarizes the characteristics of the public recreational sites included in the
recreation site inventory. Appendix A contains the detailed description for each recreational site,
including photos, location, ownership, and information on facilities, operations, site conditions,
and accessibility. Each access site is presented in the following pages with a photo highlighting
the site and a brief description summarizing the characteristics of the site.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 21 October 2008
Table 9. Summary of recreation site facilities and amenities at the Claytor Project.
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final
Claytor Lake

Courtesy loading dock


Trailer Parking Spaces

Fishing Opportunities
Approximate Acreage
Type of Facility
Name Owner Manager

Boat Ramp
Public Access
Allisonia Appalachian VDGIF Boat launch 2.7 35a 20b ● ●
Lowman’s Ferry (Shop EZ) Private Private Boat launch 0.5 13a ● ● ●
County Park, Boat
Pulaski County
Harry DeHaven County Park Pulaski County launch, swim area, 3 5a,c ● ● ●
& Appalachian
bank/pier fishing
Dublin Access VDCR VDGIF Boat launch 75a 49b ● ● ●
Claytor Lake State Park VDCR VDCR Multi-use state park 472 50a,c ● ● ●
22

Claytor Dam Group Picnic Area Appalachian Appalachian Picnicking, Boat launch 10 n/a ● ● ●
New River Access Appalachian VDGIF Boat launch 2.1 50a 30b ● ●
Marinas
Commercial marina,
Conrad Brothers Marine Private Private 30c,d ● ● ●
boat launch
Commercial marina,
Rock House Marina Private Private 15c,d ● ● ●
boat launch
a
Staff estimate based on site visits and evaluation during peak use periods.
b
VDGIF estimate
October 2008

c
Boat launch only
d
Owner estimate
Allisonia
This boat access/trail head area is located at Julia Simpkins Road (Route 693) in
Pulaski County, Virginia. It provides boat and shoreline access to Claytor Lake and also
doubles as a parking area for the New River Trail State Park, which runs adjacent to the
New River. The site has a roughly rectangular gravel parking lot. Parking for both cars
and towing vehicles with trailers is provided on a first-come/first-served basis. The 37
concrete parking blocks at the site suggests a maximum capacity of about 35 vehicles
with trailers. Parking spaces, although undesignated, are provided according to VDGIF
standard design. VDGIF estimates the site is designed for 20 vehicles with trailers.
There is one ADA accessible parking space with a short, paved walkway to the boat
ramp. The site has about 150 feet of shoreline frontage. The single lane, concrete boat
ramp is not ADA accessible. The ramp area is lighted and one portable toilet is available
across Julia Simpkins Road on the New River Trail. Bank fishing is possible, although
the bank is not maintained for such activities and is overgrown with vegetation, posing
snag hazards. The New River Trail State Park maintains a traffic counter across the site
entrance. There are no other amenities at this site. Figure 5 shows an overview of the
Allisonia access site.

Figure 5. Allisonia Access Site

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 23 October 2008
Lowman’s Ferry Bridge (Shop EZ)
This boat access site is located on Lowman’s Ferry Road (Route 672) in Pulaski
County, Virginia. The boat ramp is adjacent to a gas station/convenience store and is
privately owned. The public can launch a boat for a small fee. There is an unstriped,
gravel lot with parking for approximately 20 cars or 13 vehicles towing trailers. The lot
is not ADA accessible and is uneven and rutted. The single lane boat ramp is concrete
and has two courtesy loading piers; however, the piers are narrow and unstable as a result
of what appears to be age-related deferred maintenance); Launch fees are payable inside
the gas station/convenience store. In addition, there are two boat docks. Other amenities
include picnic tables, garbage cans, and a dumpster near the gas station/convenience
store. A flush toilet is available inside. There is a gas pump for boats located near the
store. Bank fishing is popular along the bank and under the overhang of the store. Figure
6 shows an overview of Lowman’s Ferry Bridge site.

Figure 6. Lowman’s Ferry Bridge

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 24 October 2008
Harry DeHaven County Park
Harry DeHaven County Park, also known as Harry’s Point, is a multi-use day area
located on Owens Road (Route 663) in Pulaski County, Virginia. The area consists of a
boat ramp, ADA accessible fishing pier, designated swim area, and a picnic area. The
boat launch parking area near the boat ramp is unstriped and unpaved and provides
parking for approximately 5 vehicles with trailers with an adjacent grassy area used as
needed. There are no ADA-accessible spaces in the boat ramp parking area. Parking for
the picnic area is also unstriped and unpaved and provides parking for 20 cars throughout
the park, with one additional ADA-accessible space. There are two concrete boat ramps
with one lane each and 3 courtesy piers. The ramps are not ADA accessible. The
mooring of boats is allowed alongside the shoreline. There are three picnic tables with
garbage cans and one portable toilet (ADA accessible) on site. Opportunities for bank
fishing and angling exist and swimming is allowed in a seasonally designated area. No
lifeguard signs are posted, but there are buoys around the swim area. There is an ADA-
accessible concrete ramp leading to the fishing pier. Other amenities include a
concessions store, ice machine, dumpster, and soda machines. Figure 7 shows an
overview of Harry DeHaven County Park.

Figure 7. Harry DeHaven County Park

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 25 October 2008
Dublin Access Area
This boat access site is located on Bear Drive, off State Park Road (Route 660) in
Pulaski County, Virginia near Claytor Lake State Park. Dublin Access Area is on state
lands and that are part of larger Claytor Lake State Park lands. This is a gated facility
with a 360-foot-wide by 390-foot-long parking area with parking provided on a first-
come/first-served basis. The parking area is unstriped and unpaved with 1 ADA space.
The spaces are undesignated, but conform to VDGIF standard designs. Based on the
parking pattern shown in the photo below, an estimated 75 vehicles with trailers
(conservative estimate) could fit in the lot. VDGIF estimates the site was designed to
accommodate 49 vehicles with trailers. A lighted, paved walkway with wooden stairs
provides access to the three single lane, concrete boat ramps and courtesy pier. The boat
ramps are not ADA accessible. Bank fishing and angling off the courtesy pier were
observed during the field portion of the study; however these activities are not
encouraged at this site. Dispersed shoreline use is evident from the boat ramp to the main
channel of the reservoir. The site provides two portable toilets, one of which is ADA
accessible. Figure 8 provides an overview of the Dublin Access Area.

Figure 8. Dublin Access Site

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 26 October 2008
Claytor Lake State Park
Claytor Lake State Park is a 472-acre, multi-use site with a campground on State
Park Road (Route 660) in Pulaski County, Virginia. The parking area for the boat ramp
is paved and has spaces for about 50 vehicles with trailers, 10 cars, and 3 ADA spaces.
The parking area serving the beach and picnic areas is also paved and has room for about
108 cars and 3 ADA spaces. Additional parking is provided between the boat ramp and
the beach area at the gift shop, as well as a grassy overflow parking area behind the beach
lot. There are also numerous parking areas throughout the park for other amenities
(gazebo, picnic pavilions, playground, cabins, camping, etc.) Neither the beach lot nor
the boat ramp lot is currently striped. There are three concrete, single lane boat ramps
and a courtesy pier. The ramps are not ADA accessible. Both bank fishing and formal
angling opportunities are available and there are two boat docks with slips. Seven picnic
shelters are available by reservation. The site also provides ADA-accessible flush toilets.
Camping and lodging amenities include 110 campsites, 16 cabins, and a lodge. There are
about 3 miles of walking trails available. The park includes a 2-acre swimming beach
with a diving tower, snack bar, and gift shop. Other amenities include benches, garbage
cans, a fire pit, marina, beach house, playground areas, and gazebo. A private
concessionaire, Claytor Lake Water Sports, rents many types of boats, conducts
interpretive lake tours, and has water sports packages available at the park. Water’s Edge
Marina Meeting Facility provides space for meetings and weddings along the shoreline of
Claytor Lake. Hunting is allowed by reservation only within the park during 2 days in
January each year. Figure 9 shows an overview of the developed portion of the park with
a focus on the boat launch, swim beach, overflow parking, and gazebo. Other important
amenities not shown in the photo are the campgrounds, cabins, and picnic pavilions.

Figure 9. Claytor Lake State Park

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 27 October 2008
Appalachian Group Picnic Area
This picnic site sits on lands owned by Appalachian Power as part of lands
surrounding the dam and appurtenant facilities and is located at the end of Claytor Dam
Road in Pulaski County, Virginia. The picnic area encompasses approximately 10 acres
of those lands and is primarily used as a group picnic area. The area is open between
April and October 15, and use is by reservation only. The site has a pavilion and guests
have the option of using the on-site courtesy pier. There is a boat dock with one slip.
Bank fishing is allowed; swimming is not. There are picnic tables, garbage cans, and
benches available for use. Figure 10 shows an overview of the area, including the
covered picnic pavilion and access road to the courtesy dock.

Figure 10. Appalachian Group Picnic Area

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 28 October 2008
New River (VDGIF) Access
This boat access facility is located on Little River Dam Road (at Route 605) in
Montgomery County, Virginia, below the Claytor dam and below the confluence with the Little
River. The main parking area is unpaved and unstriped and parking is available on a first-
come/first-served basis. Parking spots are not designated, but do comply with VDGIF standards.
Based on site observations Berger estimates 50 vehicles with trailers could fit in the gravel
parking area; however VDGIF estimates the site was designed to accommodate 30 vehicles with
trailers. There is one ADA-accessible parking space; however, the parking lot is uneven in areas.
The one-lane, concrete boat ramp is not ADA accessible. The ramp is lighted. The site has
about 500 feet of New River shoreline providing bank fishing opportunities. There are no other
amenities available at this access facility. The site is owned by Appalachian, but managed by
VDGIF under a lease agreement. Figure 11 shows an overview of the New River access site
area.

Figure 11. New River Access Site

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 29 October 2008
New River Trail State Park
The New River Trail State Park is a 57-mile-long state park that follows an abandoned
railroad right-of-way. The trail parallels the upstream reaches of the reservoir on the southern
shoreline, beginning near Allisonia before a bridge crosses the reservoir. The trail then follows
the reservoir for a few miles on the northern shoreline before turning north towards the town of
Pulaski. Appalachian leases 9.62 acres of land adjacent to the park to VDCR to protect the
integrity of the trail in the Project vicinity (Appalachian 2006). The Allisonia boat launch site
doubles as a trail head parking lot. There is additional informal trail parking at the junction
where the trail crosses Claytor Lake on the old railroad trestle. There are no amenities at this
informal parking area other than a gravel area to park approximately 5 to 8 vehicles. The New
River Trail was not formally included within the FERC-approved study plan as a recreation
feature to inventory; however, this study would be incomplete without a brief description of the
trail and its relationship to upper New River and Claytor Lake.

Other Lands
Appalachian has identified two relatively large tracts of land (41.5 acres and 78 acres)
and dedicated then to recreational purposes within the Project boundary. The 41.5 acre parcel is
located at the upper end of Peak Creek and the 78 acre site is located at the mouth of Peak Creek
(both on the right descending bank shown in red in figure 12). The site at the back of Peak
Creek is visibly flat and could lend itself to various types of recreation access including bank
fishing, fishing piers, boat access and picnicking, camping and hiking. The larger tract at the
mouth of Peak Creek will need to be evaluated in more detail before final proposed future uses
are determined.

Figure 12. Potential Future Recreation Areas

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 30 October 2008
3.2.2 Commercial and Private Recreation Resources
In addition to the state and county parks and public access at the Project, there are three
commercial recreation providers. One (Claytor Lake Water Sports) is located at Claytor Lake
State Park, and because users must pay to enter the park, this boat rental concessionaire is
considered part of the State Park. The other two (Conrad Brothers Marine and Rockhouse
Marina) are located at the back of Peak Creek on the reservoir. In addition to offering supplies
and food services, these marinas offer fuel services, boat docks and slips, boat storage, boat
repair, and boat launching facilities. Conrad Brothers also leases approximately 41 acres of land
from Appalachian adjacent to its marina for use as a primitive campground. There are also
recreational outfitters that provide guided fishing, boating, and camping tours both on the
reservoir and in the downstream reaches of the New River. Commercial marinas also host
numerous fishing tournaments around the lake.

Conrad Brothers Marine


Conrad Brothers Marine is located on 8 acres on Possum Hollow Road (Route 611) in
Pulaski County, Virginia. The facility is privately owned and gated. The site has an unpaved,
unstriped parking lot which, according to the owner, can provide parking for 30 vehicles with
trailers and 75 cars, with no ADA-accessible spaces. There is one single lane, concrete boat
ramp and a boat dock with 83 slips. Formal angling is permitted. Four picnic tables and a flush
toilet are available at the site. In addition, other marina services including boat lifts, dry boat
storage, dump station, boat pump-out, and boat gas are available. An on-site store sells live bait,
ice, and supplies. Twenty campsites are available on a different part of the lake and are
accessible only by boat. Camping and boat launch fees are paid at the marina. Figure 13 shows
an overview of the Conrad Brothers Marine facility.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 31 October 2008
Figure 13. Conrad Brothers Marine

Rock House Marina


Rock House Marina is located on 2 acres on Possum Hollow Road (Route 611) in Pulaski
County, Virginia. The unpaved, unstriped parking lot has spaces for 15 vehicles with trailers and
30 cars. None of the spaces are ADA accessible and the access road to the parking is rough. The
concrete boat ramp has a single lane and a courtesy pier. The ramp is not ADA accessible. Two
picnic tables, benches, garbage cans, and one flush toilet are available. No bank fishing is
allowed, although Rock House Marina is a known for providing access and hosting fishing
tournaments at the lake. There is a dock and 140 boat slips at the marina. The marina also offers
dry boat storage, boat pump-out, boat rentals, boat gas, and boat cleaning services. There is an
on-site store where bait, ice, and other supplies can be purchased. Figure 14 shows an overview
of the Rock House Marina facilities.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 32 October 2008
Figure 14. Rock House Marina

Private facilities located within the Project area include camps (e.g., Boy Scouts, church
groups) and private campgrounds. Although not all of these areas are open to the public, they
are noted here because they provide recreational value to their members, particularly during the
summer recreation season. In addition, there are private boat ramps providing access to the lake
for shoreline homeowners in the subdivision or from the local area.

As mentioned above, Claytor Lake is also host to numerous fishing tournaments


throughout the year. Rock House Marina is a popular host to many tournaments, many of which
are scheduled as evening/night events, with as many as four events scheduled on the same night
(personal communication between Rock House Marina and J. Splenda, Berger, July 27, 2007).
While these tournaments are not the large television-type events that other lakes in the southeast
are hosting, the recreation and angling effort is considerable for the numerous participating local
groups, charities, non-profits, social groups, angling groups, and various chapters across the
social spectrum.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 33 October 2008
3.3 New River Public Recreation Resources
Downstream of Claytor dam, the New River meanders 56 miles, at times perpendicular to
the mountains, exposing ledges to the town of Glen Lyn near the border of West Virginia. As a
recreation destination, the New River provides smooth flowing Class I1 shoals and rapids that are
ideal for beginners in tubing, canoeing, kayaking or rafting, with some Class II play spots
interspersed at substantial distances from each other. The river is also noted as one of the best
fishing rivers in Virginia, and is home to some of Virginia’s largest fish on record (VDGIF
2008). Populations of about every major freshwater game fish in the state reside in the New
River, including: smallmouth bass, spotted bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, striped bass, white
bass, hybrid striped bass, muskellunge, walleye, black crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish,
yellow perch, redbreast sunfish, and bluegill. Figure 15 shows the public access locations on the
New River included in this study.

1
The American Whitewater Scale of River Difficulty: Class I, Easy: Fast moving water with riffles and
small waves; Class II, Novice: Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting;
Class III, Intermediate; Class IV, Advanced; Class V, Expert; Class VI, Extreme and Exploratory.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 34 October 2008
New River public access locations.
Figure 15.
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 35 October 2008
There are numerous frontage roads that parallel the New River for much of the river
between Claytor dam and Glen Lyn, providing easy access to the New River. In addition,
VDGIF, Giles County, Radford, and many private landowners provide access to the river. This
characterization of recreation use focused on the 13 free public access ramps along the river, as
shown in figure 15.

Riverview Park is a free boat ramp in Radford on the south


end of Riverview Park (a city park more often used for its ball fields
than boat ramp). The site has about 5 parking spaces for use
associated with the concrete boat ramp or adjoining town ball field.
The narrow parking area requires vehicles with trailers to pull
forward on the grass to keep the trailer out of the way for other
users. The ramp is steep and quite old.
Riverview Park - Radford,
Dudley’s Landing is a recently improved boat ramp located VA
within Radford in Bisset Park. The park also has hike/bike trails
running across the boat ramp road and there is a bird watching
platform adjacent to the parking area. At the south end of the park
the City provides another boat ramp as well as space for
concessionaires to store and rent canoes. This is a popular site, with
well organized parking and a boat ramp. There are approximately
10 trailer spaces and 12 vehicles without trailer spaces. Extending
the ramp would provide access across the lowest flows increasing Dudley's Landing -
number of days the site is useable through the summer.
Pepper’s Ferry Bridge is an informal access site with a
gravel put-put in and parking area underneath the Pepper’s Ferry
Road Bridge in Montgomery County, VA. Parking is on the dirt
surface directly beneath the bridge while there is not an official ramp,
only compacted gravel.
Whitethorne is a VDGIF ramp across from the Radford Pepper's Ferry Bridge
Munitions complex near the mouth of Tom’s Creek in Montgomery
County. This site is very popular with boat anglers as well as bank
anglers near the mouth of the creek. The ramp and parking area have
solar charged lights while the parking is not striped. The parking area
can accommodate 10-12 vehicles with trailers and when at capacity
additional users park on the other side of the railroad tracks.
McCoy informal access is located on Goodwins Ferry Road, Whitethorne (VDGIF)
just below McCoy Falls. It is compacted gravel area commonly used
for hand launching car top boats (e.g., kayaks)l. The site is not lighted and can easily be
confused with the numerous vehicle pull-outs along the road near McCoy Falls. The area above
and below the falls is popular with swimmers, bank anglers, people taking out tubes
(predominately rented from New River Junction – an inner tube rental company about 1 mile
upriver), or launching rafts and boats.
Eggleston is an informal access area located on Eggleston River Road. The access point
itself is compacted gravel and there are no amenities at the site. The only available parking is

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 36 October 2008
located on the side of the road. Signs direct visitors to the site. There is also a private, concrete
landing located at Cliffview Street (Route 18). This 12-foot by 30-foot landing is lighted and
there are outhouses available. The landing is located within the Gun Powder Springs
Campground. There is a $5 fee to use this site.
The Pembroke boat ramp is jointly managed by VDGIF and
the town of Pembroke located on River Road in Pembroke, Virginia.
This public boat landing is made of concrete and is below the
overpass bridge. This site is a popular site with some of the local
outfitters who launch and take out here. The boat ramp is 12 feet by
64 feet. There are no amenities located at this site and it is not
adjacent to a campground. The ramp is useable at most flows Pembroke
Ripplemead is an informal access site located at the end of Ripplemead Road, under
U.S. 460. This public boat landing is unsurfaced compacted gravel. There are no amenities at
this site.
Bluff City is an informal access area located below Celco Falls under the U.S. 460
overpass in Bluff City. There are no signs directing visitors to this site, so it can be difficult to
find. There are two gravel/hard sand boat lanes. There are many places to park, with easy
access for large vehicles. There are no amenities at this site. The site is popular with play
boaters who utilize the spot as a “park and play” venturing to the wave and rapid at the end of the
island approximately 150 yards upstream as well as boat and bank anglers.
Narrows Landing (Narrows 1) is located in the Town of Narrows on Lurich Road.
There are signs directing visitors to the landing. This is a free public boat landing with a
concrete ramp measuring 15 feet by 37 feet. The site is well lighted and next to an informal
campground with a bathroom referred to as “Camp Success”. Visitors may swim at the landing
at their own risk. The ramp has a shallow slope and is not useable at low flows displacing
boaters to use nearby Riverview Campground.
Narrows Boat Ramp (Narrows 2) is also located on Lurich road in Narrows, Virginia,
just below Narrows Falls. The concrete boat ramp measures 15 feet by 80 feet. This is a free
site. There are no amenities here. Fishing is allowed at the site and visitors may swim at their
own risk. The concrete ramp has been undercut by flows creating a potential launching hazard.
This site is also popular with bank anglers.
Rich Creek is a free boat ramp managed by VDGIF located near Gentry’s Landing on
U.S. 460E. This 12 foot-wide public boat ramp is made of concrete. The site is lighted, but
there are no bathrooms. The site is within walking distance of Gentry’s Landing campground.
Signs make this ramp easy to find.
Glen Lyn boat ramp is managed by VDGIF and located on
Glen Lyn Town Park Street (US 460E). There is a 20-foot- wide
boat ramp made of concrete at the site. The site is lighted and there
are signs directing visitors to the ramp. There are no other amenities
at this site, although the site is adjacent to a Corps of Engineers
campground popular with recreational trailers and vehicle campers.
The ramp is subject to siltation.
Glen Lyn

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 37 October 2008
4.0 SUMMARY OF RECREATION USE AND USER CHARACTERISITICS
This section presents general information regarding recreation user characteristics and the
type of recreational use occurring within the study area, including data obtained from access site
interviews, shoreline residents’ surveys, and regional residents’ surveys.

4.1 Recreation Visitation and Type of Uses


Recreation access to areas within the Project boundary is available through one of three
routes: 1) public access areas (e.g., boat ramps, parks, etc), 2) directly from shoreline residences;
or 3) from commercial facilities (e.g., marinas). For the purposes of this report, and consistent
with FERC Form 80 reporting requirements, a recreation visit (measured as a Recreation Day) is
defined as a visit by a person to the Project for recreational purposes during any portion of a 24-
hour period. Table 10 summarizes use estimates from these three pathways; the estimates are
discussed in more detail in the following sections.

Table 10. Summary of estimated recreation visitation March 1, 2007 to February 29,
2008.
Access Visitation at Public Areas
March 1 to November 30 428,991
January 1 - February 28, and December 1 to 31 22,780
Total Estimated Public Use 451,771
Visitation from Shoreline Homeownersb 448,971
Claytor Project Total Estimated Use 900,742
a
Estimate based on average ratio of off-season to in-season use at Claytor Lake State Park, New River
Trail State Park, Harry DeHaven County Park, and Dublin Access (7 percent) applied to other
recreation areas.
b
Estimate covers period from Labor Day 2006 through Labor Day 2007

4.1.1 Public Access Area Use


Recreation use estimates for public access areas were based on traffic counts at two
access sites, spot counts and interview data at four of the nine sites; and facility operator
estimates for the other three inventoried sites. Traffic counters were deployed at four of the
project related access sites; however, inconsistencies with field observations reduced our
confidence in using counts from the two commercial marinas. In addition, counter malfunctions
at Dublin and Harry DeHaven County Park during the summer of 2007 required additional traffic
count collection through 2008.

The study team recognizes that the recreation sites are accessible year round; however,
consistent with the FERC-approved study plan, field data collection focused on the recreation
season from March 1 through November 30, 2007, to capture the time of year with the expected
greatest amount of use. For all public access sites within the project boundary, the total use
during this period is estimated at 428,991 visits, with about 98 percent of visits occurring at
Claytor Lake and about 2 percent at the New River access below the dam. Table 11 shows the
estimated use at each of the inventoried public access sites for the field portion of the study,
while table 12 shows the estimated use at each of the inventoried public access sites for the off-
season time period. Both New River State Park and Claytor Lake State Park provided annual
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 38 October 2008
estimates that lined up with the dates of field work and non-field study. Traffic counters
recorded vehicle use during the winter of 2007-2008. Use during the December through
February time period ranged from 11 percent of the peak season use recorded at Allisonia to
three percent of the use at the Claytor Lake State Park with an average of seven percent. This
estimate was applied to the other sites that would have been accessible to estimate use during the
December through February time period.

In order to estimate use at some sites, several variables were defined, including survey
days (discussed above in section 2.0), activity turnover rate, and persons per party (discussed
below in section 5.0). From exit interviews, the average length of time people spend recreating
from public access points varied based on the type of site from 0.25 hours to more than five days.
Because the average trip duration can be influenced by a small number of campers or cabin
renters with high trip lengths, these averages are calculated based on day users (those whose trips
were less than 24 hours). Table 13 shows the average length of time people recreated at each
access area and table 14 details the average trip duration by their primary activity based on
interview data. Throughout the study period the average length of sunlight during which typical
recreation activities would occur (study day length) was assumed to be 12 hours. Using
Allisonia as an example, the site would turn over approximately 3 times a day (12 hrs/day
divided by 4 hrs/trip = 3 trips/day).

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 39 October 2008
Table 11. Estimated use (recreation days) at public recreation sites from March 1 through November 31, 2007.
Harry Claytor VDGIF
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final
Claytor Lake

Conrad Rock Appalachian


Lowmans DeHaven Lake Ramp
Month Allisoniaa Brothers House Dublinc Group Picnic
Ferryb County State Below
Marineb Marinab Areae
Parkc Parkd Damb
March 846 442 838 1,532 3,584 9,500 8,956 Closed 503
April 823 380 1,080 1,715 4,911 11,575 14,198 Closed 387
May 1,403 832 1,999 2,301 6,653 13,644 26,853 243 1251
June 956 371 3,288 5,324 8,607 13,266 40,077 445 1053
July 598 506 3,238 5,175 9,080 13,720 43,538 380 922
August 615 540 4,468 4,200 7,986 12,034 36,301 655 1134
September 619 704 1,582 3,330 4,981 9,240 24,424 250 581
October 351 505 1,807 5,219 3,083 6,392 14,759 Closed 451
November 259 346 477 5,003 1,960 168 7,434 Closed 139
Total 6,469 4,625 18,778 33,798 50,845 89,541 216,540 1,973 6,420
a
Source: New River Trail State Park (NRSP). Party size of 2.6 based on interviews recorded at this site; NRSP uses a standard group size of 4.5 for all sites.
b.
Method: Average spot count x 3.0 turnover ratio
c.
Method: Traffic count data x average group size
d.
Source: Claytor Lake State Park
40

e.
Source: Appalachian Power Company
Note: Traffic counter data from June 2, 2008 to September 3, 2008 was used as a surrogate for estimating use in 2007 for the same period when the counters
malfunctioned (numbers in italics).
October 2008
Table 12. Estimated use (recreation days) at public recreation sites from December 1
to February 28, 2007.
Visitation
12/1 thru
Site Name 2/28/2007 Method
Allisonia 829 NRSP counts x 2.6 (NRSP uses 4.5)
Lowman’s Ferry 324 7% of Study Period Use
Conrad Brothers Marine 1,314 7% of Study Period Use
Rock House Marina 2,366 7% of Study Period Use
Harry DeHaven County Park 4,222 8% of Study Period Use
Dublin 5,687 6% of Study Period Use
3% of Study Period Use
Claytor Lake State Park 7,588
Dave Collette, CLSP
Appalachian Group Picnic Area 0 CLOSED
VDGIF Ramp Below Dam 449 7% of Study Period Use
Total 3/8-11/30 22,909
NRSP: New River Trail State Park
CLSP: Claytor Lake State Park

Table 13. Weighted average trip duration to public access areas (March through
November).
Location Average (hours)
Allisonia 4:44
Claytor Lake State Park 4:26
Conrad Brothers Marine 5:42
Dublin 4:30
Harry DeHaven County Park 2:45
Lowman’s Ferry 5:05
Rock House Marina 4:06
VDGIF Ramp Below Dam 2:01
Weighted average by Access Area 4:09

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 41 October 2008
Table 14. Weighted average trip duration to public access areas by activity (March
through November).
Primary Activity Average (hours)
Boat Fishing 5:03
Water Skiing/Tubing 4:20
Sailing 4:16
Motor Boating 3:41
Bank Fishing 3:39
Canoe/Kayak 3:23
Pier/Dock Fishing 2:57
Jet Skiing 2:54
Visiting a Beach (Swimming/Sunbathing) 2:27
Weighted average by Activity 4:17

4.1.2 Shoreline Property Owner Use


Visitation to the Project from private residences (including undeveloped lots) adjacent to
the Project provides the greatest number of users to the Project. As shown in table 10 (above),
the visitation to the Project between Labor Day 2006 and Labor Day 2007 from shoreline
residences was estimated at more than 440,000 recreation days. Based on responses to the
mailed questionnaire, shoreline property owners recreate at Claytor Lake an average of 67 days
per year. Table 15 shows the details of Project visitation originating from private shoreline
proprieties.

Survey responses also indicated that parcels that didn’t have a residence still supported
use because property owners used the parcels to access the Project and often made improvements
such as a dock, picnic area, boat ramp, storage shed, swim area, etc. We based our annual
estimate on responses to mailed questionnaire Question 6 (What is the total number of days
you…participated in recreation activities…) and Question 7 (What was the average number of
people in the group…) (see appendix D). This estimate also considered the percentage of
respondents who indicated they recreated at the Project during the last year (obtained from
Question 2) and an assessment of the percentage of shoreline parcels that are zoned residential
and that could, therefore, provide recreational access to residential users.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 42 October 2008
Table 15. Summary of shoreline property owner visitation estimates (Labor Day 2006
through Labor Day 2007.

Assumption Claytor Lake


Average number of days recreating at Lakea 67
Average group sizea 5.7
Percent of shoreline property owners who use Lakea 99
Estimated number of shoreline parcelsb 1250
Percentage of parcels that are residentialc 95
Estimated Shoreline Use (Recreation Days) 448,971
a
From mailed questionnaire
b
Source: Pulaski county GIS information
c
Estimate based on investigation of GIS information

4.2 Recent Historical Public Recreation Use


FERC requires licensees such as Appalachian to monitor and submit data on publicly
accessible recreational facilities at licensed hydropower projects every 6 years. This information
is submitted in the standardized “FERC Form 80 – Licensed Hydropower Development
Recreation Report”. Types of information collected in the form include the total annual day time
and night time estimated recreation use, peak weekend averages, the numbers and types of
various facilities (e.g., access areas, boat ramps, boat lanes, fishing piers, parks, swimming areas,
and various camping related facilities), how the use is distributed between free and user fee
areas, the total amount of acreage, and the percent of capacity that is used at each facility.
Recent Form 80s for the Claytor Project (P-739) are available from the FERC elibrary website
(http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp) and cover the years 1997 and 2003.

Examination of the 2003 Form 80 Report and the 2003 Recreation Study (Kleinschmidt,
2003) that was used to compile the Form 80 reveals two key points: (1) the methods used to
estimate the 1997 use was very different from the methods used in 2003 use; and (2) the
estimated increase in use from1997 to 2003 was based strictly on population growth rates. Table
16 summarizes the key visitation numbers from the FERC Form 80. Future Form 80 reports will
provide updated information on a regular basis (every 6 years).

Table 16. Summary of recent visitation estimates to the Project.

Estimated Use Category 1997 Form 80 2003 Form 80

Daytime Recreation Days 340,000 363,800

Nighttime Recreation Days 35,100 37,600

Totals 375,100 401,400

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 43 October 2008
4.3 Recreation Use by Activity
Table 17 and figure 16 show the rates of participation in various recreation activities for
people who took part in the public access site interviews, shoreline owner surveys, or regional
resident surveys. Participants in the public access site interviews were asked to indicate what
activities they participated in during their visit, while shoreline owners and regional residents
were asked to indicate all the activities and the number of days they had taken part during the
past year at the Project. Regional resident responses are shown as the percent of people who
visited the Project. In order of participation, the following are the most popular activities:

Public Access Site Users – (1) boat fishing at Claytor Lake, (2) Motor Boating, (3),
Bank/Pier/Dock Fishing, (4) Visiting a Beach, and (5) Picnicking/Family Gathering.
Claytor Lake Shoreline Owners – (1) Visiting a Beach, (2) Motor Boating, (3) Water
Skiing/Tubing, (4) Bank/Pier/Dock Fishing, and (5) Boat Fishing.
Regional Residents – (1) Picnicking/Family Gathering, (2) Boat Fishing, Motor Boating,
Visiting a Beach (3-way tie), (5) Public Park.
Survey results indicate that the same activities are ranked in the top five across all three
user groups; however the percentage of respondents is slightly varied across groups. Part of this
is due to the survey methodology in that access site users are not likely to be participating in
beach activities since there are only two sites with a beach while the shoreline survey was
designed to ask for the entire year enabling property owners to recall visits across the year as
opposed to at a point in time like the access site interviews. Regional residents who visited the
Project indicate a high level of participation in picnicking/family gatherings, with boat fishing,
motor boating, and beach use all exhibiting similar use.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 44 October 2008
Table 17. Claytor Project distribution of recreation activity among public access
users and shoreline and regional residents.

Public Access Users Shoreline Residents Regional Residents

Activity Respondents Percent Respondents Percent Respondents Percent


Boat Fishing 454 52 161 40 33 43
Motor Boating 205 24 299 75 33 43
Visiting Beach 114 13 305 76 33 43
Picnicking/Family
Gathering 84 10 128 32 37 48
Bank/Pier/Dock
Fishing 121 14 194 49 15 19
Water Ski/Tubing 69 8 211 53 14 18
Sightseeing 59 7 128 32 23 30
Wildlife Viewing 47 5 134 34 17 22
Jet Ski 43 5 150 38 8 10
Other 38 4 0 0 9 12
Canoe/Kayak 31 4 147 38 14 18
Tent/Vehicle
Camping 27 3 22 6 9 12
Tubing 19 2 0 0 0 0
Sailing 18 2 24 6 6 8
Walking/Hiking 17 2 139 35 21 27
Cabin Rental
(CLSP) 10 1 6 2 2 3
Bicycling/
Mountain Biking 9 1 0 0 0 0
Rafting 2 0 0 0 0 0
Scuba/
Snorkeling 2 0 0 0 0 0
Multi-day Float
Trip 1 0 0 0 0 0
Hunting 2 0 18 5 1 1
Public Park 0 0 135 34 30 39
Knee/Wake
boarding 0 0 89 22 4 5
TOTAL 866 399 77

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 45 October 2008
Figure 16. Claytor Project distribution of recreation activities

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4.4 Boating Use and Accident Data

4.4.1 Boating Use


Both recreation site users and shoreline owners were asked about the type and size of
boat they use. Of the 866 users interviewed at recreation sites, 82 percent (695 respondents)
were boat users on the day of the interview. Seventy-seven percent of respondents were using
motorboats, and the majority of the motorboats were between 16 and 40 feet long (table 18).
Although this distribution of boat use represents public recreation site users, it is not necessarily
reflective of general boat use on the Project area waterways. Many people keep their motorboats
or sailboats at shoreline homes or at private or commercial marinas; that use is not reflected in
site interviews.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 46 October 2008
Table 18. Type and size of boat used by recreation site users.
Claytor Lake
Boat Type Count Percent
Motorboat (< 16 feet) 169 24
Motorboat (16 to 40 feet) 367 53
Kayak/Canoe 31 4
Jetski 34 5
Pontoon 75 11
Sailboat 16 2
Other (houseboats and
3 0
rowboats
TOTAL 695 100

Shoreline homeowners enjoy many benefits of living on the water, including easy access
to boating on Claytor Lake. In general, shoreline homeowners are more likely to own a
watercraft than the general public. Based on their 399 responses, 84 percent (336 respondents)
of Claytor Lake shoreline residents indicated they own a watercraft. In addition, it is typical for
shoreline property owners to own more than one type of watercraft and at times more than one of
the same type of watercraft. Owners of jet skis and kayaks often reported owning more than one
of each. Table 19 includes boat ownership information from shoreline residents.

Table 19. Type and size of boat owned by shoreline property ownersa.

Claytor Lake
Percent of Number of
Boat Type Residents Boats
Jetski 46 206
Motorboat (19 to 40 feet) 43 159
Motorboat (<18 feet) 40 147
Pontoon 39 111
Canoe 29 109
Kayak 19 91
No boat 16 0
Other 14 45
Sailboat 10 36
Motorboat (>40 feet) 1 2
TOTAL 906
a
Responses to the question “Do you own any of the following watercraft? If yes, how many watercraft of each
type do you own and keep at your waterfront home at Claytor Lake?”

Table 20 shows boater registration data from 1997 to 2006 for Carroll, Floyd,
Montgomery, Pulaski, and Wythe counties and the city of Radford. Data indicate that the
number of registered watercraft within these counties has grown by 7.6 percent over this time

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 47 October 2008
period. Pulaski County has the largest number of registered boats, and it is the only county
where boat registration has fallen in the 10-year period.

Table 20. Boat registration data (1997-2006)a.


Radford VA
Year Carroll Floyd Montgomery Pulaski City Wythe Total
1997 778 265 1,759 3395 315 791 233,024
1998 811 287 1,776 3370 337 841 234,762
1999 857 304 1,803 3426 378 884 238,543
2000 859 323 1,855 3381 392 894 240,317
2001 847 318 1,902 3392 392 890 243,486
2002 853 320 1,941 3333 399 915 246,495
2003 853 313 1,874 3286 400 921 244,754
2004 832 313 1,850 3239 392 912 245,339
2005 827 309 1,818 3255 392 892 247,709
2006 836 321 1,779 3269 375 915 250,672
2007 849 332 1,808 3,300 362 940 253,962
Percent Change
9.1 25.3 2.8 -2.8 14.9 18.8 9.0
since 1997
a
Email correspondence from Larry Hart, VDGIF to Jot Splenda, Berger on December 4, 2007.

4.4.2 Boating Accident Data


VDGIF data from 2004 through 2006 for Claytor Lake shows very few reports of boating
accidents and no fatalities. In both 2004 and 2005, four boating accidents with injuries were
reported. In 2006, only two accidents with injuries were reported. In 2007, there was one
fatality (August 8) and five accidents with injuries reported. Since only those accidents that have
been reported are included in this data, we cannot quantify all accidents. We do, however,
discuss recreation site users’ perceptions of crowding and safety in section 5.2, and shoreline
property owners’ perceptions of crowding and safety in section 6.2.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 48 October 2008
5.0 CLAYTOR LAKE ACCESS SITE RECREATION USER PERCEPTIONS,
USE CHARACTERISTICS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This section presents a summary of the data analysis with respect to use by access site
users, user perceptions, and issues raised and recommendations made by recreation access site
visitors. Summaries of the data from the recreation site visitor interviews are provided in
appendix B.

5.1 General Characteristics


As part of the interviews conducted at recreation sites, people were asked to provide
some general demographic information, including race, gender, age, and income. Of the 866
respondents, 96 percent were white and 80 percent were men. Forty-seven percent of the
respondents were between the ages of 35 and 54. Twenty-four percent of respondents (206
respondents) declined to answer the question concerning average income. Of the remaining
respondents (660), the following income information was provided:

• 15 percent had incomes between $0 and $19,999;


• 25 percent had incomes between $20,000 and $39,999;
• 25 percent had incomes between $40,000 and $59,999;
• 29 percent had incomes over $60,000.
A number of other questions were asked of recreation site visitors to help characterize
how the site is used. The following brief paragraphs summarize data concerning group size,
duration of visits, and other general information.

Frequency of Site Visits – On average, people indicated they recreate at the project 24
times a year (median = 12). Ninety-two percent of respondents were repeat visitors to the
project.
Season of Visits – Spring and summer were the most popular responses to a question
concerning the preferred season to recreate at the Project. Together, these seasons accounted for
75.4 percent of the responses. The average number of winter visits (December 1 through the end
of February) per respondent was just 2.9 visits (median = 0).
Group Size – The average group size for the project is 2.8 people (median 2.0).
Recreation Expenditures – On average, respondents reported spending $58.00 per visit
to the project. The bulk of these expenses were spent on gasoline (mean = $28.50, median =
$20.00) and food and drink (mean = $16.30; median = $8.00). The remaining dollars were spent
on bait and tackle, overnight fees, camping, and other items. Fifty-nine percent of the dollars
were spent in Pulaski County. Respondents indicated that they would be willing to spend an
average of $32.50 more per visit (mean = $15.00).
Residence Home State – Overall, 88 percent of vehicles observed during spot counts had
Virginia license plates, while 5 percent had West Virginia plates, and 4 percent North Carolina
plates. Based on interview data, the majority of Virginia users reside in the New River Valley.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 49 October 2008
5.2 Recreation Access Site Visitor Perceptions of Crowding, Safety, and
Aesthetic Attributes
The majority of respondents indicated satisfaction with their water-based experience on
Claytor Lake. Of the 865 people who were surveyed, 86 percent reported being “satisfied” to
“very satisfied” with their experience.

Respondents were also asked to indicate their perception of crowding at the lake. Table
21 summarizes the responses of pubic access site users with respect to the number of boats on
the water. Site users indicated there were fewer than average boats on the water during their
visit. On weekdays, of the 530 respondents, 77 percent indicated fewer than average boats,
while 15.3 percent reported an “average” number of boats. Not surprisingly, perceptions of
crowdedness increased on weekends. On the weekend, 295 respondents provided information.
Forty three percent indicated fewer than average, 36.6 percent reported an “average” number of
boats, and 14.2 percent reported between average and too many boats on the water.

Table 21. User perceptions of watercraft crowding on Claytor Lake.


Weekday Crowding Weekend Crowding
Watercraft Crowding Conditions Count Percent Count Percent
No watercraft 29 5.5 5 1.7
Between no and few 91 17.2 29 9.8
Few watercraft 289 54.5 95 32.2
Between few and average 26 4.9 16 5.4
Average 81 15.3 108 36.6
Between average and too many 5 0.9 22 7.5
Too many 8 1.5 19 6.4
Far too many 1 0.2 1 0.3
TOTAL 530 100 295 100

When asked their perceptions of crowding at the site in terms of number of people, most
respondents (62.7 percent) indicated that there were between few and no other people at the site.
Another 33.5 percent found between few people and the average number of people, and only 3.9
percent indicated that there were between the average number and far too many people at the
site. Table 22 summarizes the responses with respect to the number of people at the site. These
responses were consistent across seasons as well.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 50 October 2008
Table 22. User perceptions of crowding in terms of number of people.
Site Condition Count Percent
No other people 57 6.9
Between no and few people 116 14.0
Few people 348 41.9
Between few and average people 38 4.6
Average people 240 28.9
Between average and too many 15 1.8
Too many people 13 1.6
Far too many people 4 0.5
TOTAL 831 100.0

With respect to public access and site users’ perceptions of safety at the recreational sites,
the vast majority of respondents (98 percent) indicated that they felt either “safe” or “very safe”.
The remaining 2 percent mentioned the condition of the dock, vandalism, congestion, lighting,
and uneven or steep surfaces as reasons for feeling either “unsafe” or “neither safe nor unsafe”.

Ninety-six percent of respondents reported feeling either “safe” or “very safe” on the
water. Of the 11 respondents who reported feeling unsafe on the water, the reasons cited include
choppy water, wind, lower water, congestion, and operators under the influence of alcohol or
drugs. Respondents could indicate more than one reason for not feeling safe on the water.

Visitors were also asked about their perception of floating debris on the water. Seventy-
seven percent of respondents reported little or no debris on the water. An average amount of
debris was reported by 12 percent of respondents and between average and far too much debris
was reported by 11 percent of respondents.

Attitudes toward the aesthetic quality of the sites were generally favorable with respect to
views of the areas where the interviews were taking place (table 23). When asked about the
scenery, 82 percent of respondents gave an “appealing” or “very appealing” response. Only 2
percent of respondents indicated that the aesthetics of the sites were “between average and
unappealing” and “unappealing”. Seventy-one percent, or 592 respondents, provided
information for table 24, which details the top 20 attributes that add to the scenic quality of the
area as indicated by respondents. For the respondents who provided feedback on things that
detract from scenic quality, the biggest detractor identified was trash and debris, including
natural debris (89 respondents, 43 percent), followed by the presence of homes, trailers, and
stores (identified by 43 respondents, 21 percent). Table 25 lists the primary reasons given for an
“unattractive” scenic rating score. Appendix B includes photos documenting representative
areas identified in the interviews and mailed questionnaires.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 51 October 2008
Table 23. Scenic quality ratings from interview respondents.
Category Count Percent
Appealing to Very Appealing 701 82.0
Between Average and Appealing 13 1.5
Average 129 15.0
Between Average and Unappealing 7 1.0
Between Unappealing and Extremely Unappealing 8 1.0
TOTAL 858 100.0

Table 24. Access site users’ scenic attributes.


No. of Percent of all
Attribute/Area
Responses responses
Cliffs / Bluffs 368 18.8
Mountains 263 13.5
Wildlife 195 10.0
Lake / Water 185 9.5
Homes 148 7.6
Trees / Forest / Woods 139 7.1
Dam 67 3.4
Coves 64 3.3
Lack of Development 59 3.0
Lighthouse 46 2.4
State Park 45 2.3
Natural Setting / Beauty 54 2.8
Clean Environment 36 1.8
Bridge/Lighthouse Bridge 40 2.0
Shoreline 29 1.5
Other 25 1.3
Peak Creek 20 1.0
Rocks 16 0.8
Fall Foliage 14 0.7
Boats / Docks 13 0.7
Beaches 12 0.6

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 52 October 2008
Table 25. Access site users’ unappealing scenic attributes.
What detracts from aesthetic quality? (Respondents can have
Count Percent
multiple responses)
Trash/debris (including natural debris) 89 43
Presence of homes, trailers, stores 43 21
Lack of maintenance (docks, ramps, landscaping, homes, trailers) 23 11
Roads, bridges, highways, transmission lines 19 9
Boats (number, type, speed) 9 4
Poor water quality 6 3
Natural pests (buzzards, insects) 5 2
Other (toilets, noise, other people, signs, barges) 11 5
TOTAL 205 100

Because public site users are generally at a site less than a day on any given occasion,
their perceptions of water levels reflect a snapshot at a particular time. The majority of site users
(559 respondents or 65 percent) indicated that, in general, water levels were “just right” for their
recreation needs. However, it is interesting to note that 202 respondents (23 percent) indicated
that the water level did not matter. Seventy-one respondents (8 percent) reported the water level
as “too low” and 29 respondents (3 percent) reported that levels were “way too low”. To
enhance recreational opportunities at the lake, Appalachian maintains lake levels at elevations
between 1,845 feet and 1,846 feet during the week from April 15 to October 15, which serves to
limit the extent of any water level impact on most recreational users.

5.3 Access Site User Issues and Recommendations


Access site respondents were very positive overall in their level of satisfaction with the
condition of existing facilities. Eighty-six percent of the persons interviewed at all sites were
either satisfied or very satisfied with the condition of the site. Of those who reported
dissatisfaction with the condition of the existing facilities, the primary reasons cited included a
need for more maintenance; lack of toilets; dock, pier, or ramp issues; and trash or debris. Table
26 lists the complaint and the location where improvements were desired.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 53 October 2008
Table 26. Location and dissatisfaction with facility opportunity comments.
Location Reason for dissatisfaction Number of mentions
Allisonia Need toilets 2
Need dock/pier 4
Needs trash cans 3
Sedimentation 1
Wing dam 1
Claytor Lake State Park Needs dock/pier 2
Dublin Debris/trash/weeds 3
Needs dock/pier maintenance 1
Needs ramp 1
Needs trash cans 3
Overhead lines 1
Restrooms 1
Roads 1
Harry DeHaven County Park Debris/trash/weeds 5
More maintenance 6
Need toilets 1
Lowman’s Ferry Debris/trash/weeds 2
More maintenance 11
Needs dock/pier 3
Needs ramp 2
Personnel issues 2
Ramp too steep 2
VDGIF Ramp Below the Debris/trash/weeds 2
Dam More maintenance 1
Need toilets 1

Respondents indicated a high level of satisfaction with the number and types of
recreational facilities at Claytor Lake. Eighty-two percent of respondents reported being
“satisfied” to “very satisfied”, while almost 14 percent (105 respondents) indicated a neutral
position with regard to the number and types of facilities. Satisfaction information is provided in
table 27. Recommendations were made by people regardless of their satisfaction score,
suggesting that people could be satisfied with the facilities at the time of the visit but additional
facilities could improve their satisfaction or enhance their recreational experience on future
visits. Specific improvements or additions were suggested by 78 respondents (10 percent).
Recommendations included adding boat ramps and launches, amenities (parks, bank fishing, boat
rental, etc.), restaurants, marinas, and restrooms. In addition, several respondents indicated the
need for upgrades or additional trash clean-up. Respondents were given the opportunity to
identify the location where their recommendation should be implemented. However, not every
respondent took advantage of this opportunity, so it was assumed that their response was a
general, project-wide recommendation. Recommendations and identified locations are
summarized in table 28.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 54 October 2008
Table 27. Satisfaction with number and type of recreation opportunities at facilities.
Satisfaction Count Percent
Very Satisfied 173 22.5
Between Very Satisfied and Satisfied 38 4.9
Satisfied 416 54.2
Between Satisfied and Neutral 12 1.6
Neutral 86 11.2
Between Neutral and Dissatisfied 7 0.9
Dissatisfied 35 4.6
Very Dissatisfied 1 0.1
TOTAL 768 100.0

Table 28. Type and location of facilities recommended by interview respondents.

Recommendation Location of Improvement


Additional boat ramps/launches (17) Lighthouse Bridge; upper end of lake; at public
lands; from DeHaven to Allisonia; between CLSP
and Rockhouse; between Lowman’s Ferry and
Allisonia; Harry DeHaven Park; Lowman’s Ferry
Additional amenities and activities (parks, Between Lowman’s Ferry and Allisonia; across the
bank fishing, camping, boat rental, shade, lake from the marina; VDGIF ramp below the
family areas, beaches) (13) dam; Lowman’s Ferry; Harry DeHaven
Additional restaurants (8) VDGIF ramp below the dam; Lowman’s Ferry;
anywhere; main body of the lake out of Peak
Creek; Harry DeHaven
Additional marinas (including gas Peak Creek, everywhere; mid-way lake; Harry
stations, bait shops, and stores) (8) DeHaven
Additional docks/landings (7) CLSP; Dublin; next to dam; wherever
Upgrades needed (7) Lowman’s Ferry below dam access; Harry
DeHaven Park; Peak Creek; Dublin
Reduce or eliminate fees (5) Everywhere; CLSP
Additional debris and trash clean-up or Near dam; Lowman’s Ferry
additional trash cans (5)
Additional restrooms (4) VDGIF ramp below dam; general
Additional access (4) Across CLSP; near dam; between bridge and
Allisonia
Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of respondents who made the recommendation.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 55 October 2008
6.0 SHORELINE PROPERTY OWNER RECREATION USE,
CHARACTERISITICS, PERCEPTIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This section presents a summary of the data analysis with respect to information provided
by shoreline owner respondents. It includes information about their use and perceptions of the
Project area waterways and issues they raised with respect to management of the Project. A total
of 399 shoreline property owner surveys were returned. Summaries of the data from the
shoreline owner respondents are provided in appendix D.

6.1 General Characteristics


A number of questions were asked of shoreline property owners that help characterize
their recreational use of Project waters. The following paragraphs summarize data concerning
demand for various activities, the average number of days residents use the water, group size,
and other general information. Each summary indicates where additional information may be
found in appendix D.

As part of the survey, respondents were asked to provide some basic demographic
information including race, age, and income. Ninety-eight percent of respondents were white.
The bulk of respondents (81 percent) were between the ages of 45 and 74, with 39 percent
between 45 and 59 and 42 percent between 60 and 74. Of the 302 respondents who answered the
question about income, 46 percent of them indicated that their income was greater than $100,000
per year. Another 27 percent reported annual incomes between $60,000 and $99,999.

Primary vs. Seasonal Residence – Among Claytor Lake shoreline property owners,
approximately 50 percent consider their property their primary residence, 23 percent consider it a
weekend residence, and 19 percent consider it a seasonal residence. Two percent of respondents
have rental property, 3 percent have no residence, and 4 percent responded that their land was
undeveloped. Ninety percent of respondents indicated that their property has water access. The
average number of days spent in residence at Claytor Lake was 212 (median = 250), which is not
surprising considering the high percentage of residents who consider this their primary residence.

Recreation Days – Property owners reported recreating at the Project 66.8 days in the
previous year, with a median of 41 days. The minimum number of days was 0, with a maximum
of 365.

Group Size – The average group size participating in recreational activities at the Project
is 5.7 people. Interestingly, the average number of people per household is 4, indicating that
visitors and guests often may be involved in the recreation activities of shoreline owners.

Season – Several respondents submitted multiple answers to a question concerning their


preferred recreation season; however, summer is overwhelmingly the most popular response (81
percent). Ten percent of respondents indicated spring, and 8 percent indicated fall as the primary
season for their recreational activities.

Daily Expenditures – The reported average total daily spending for recreation was
$212.78. Gas was the largest portion of this amount ($80.09), followed by food and drink
($74.21). Other expenditures, including lodging, boat rental, bait and tackle, and other items

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 56 October 2008
averaged under $20.00 each. The majority of expenditures were made in Pulaski County,
Virginia. Ninety percent of respondents indicated that at least half of their expenditures were
made in Pulaski County, and 68 percent of respondents indicated that 100 percent of their
expenditures were made in Pulaski County.

Night Use – Forty-nine percent of shoreline property owners indicated that they
participated in some type of activity at night on Claytor Lake. The most popular activity was
fishing (43 percent), followed by boating (25 percent). In addition, the annual fireworks display
is a popular draw for shoreline property owners.

6.2 Shoreline Owner Perceptions of Crowding and Safety


Table 29 summarizes the shoreline owner responses to weekday and weekend crowding
on the water during the peak recreation season (Memorial Day through Labor Day). In general,
shoreline owner responses for weekend crowding on the water are higher than public recreation
site users discussed above in section 5.2.

Table 29. Claytor Project area perception of crowding on the water by shoreline
property owners.
Weekday Weekend
Perception of crowding
Count Percent Count Percent
Didn’t use the watera 25 6.7 24 6.5
No boats 1 0% 1 0%
Few boats 214 61% 26 7%
Average boats 121 35% 212 61%
Too many boats 10 3% 92 26%
Far too many boats 2 1% 17 5%
TOTAL 348 100 348 100
a
Not included in the totals

Shoreline owners were also asked to indicate whether, in the past year, they had any
experiences while participating in recreational activities at the Public Recreation Areas or on the
water at Claytor Lake when they felt their health or safety was jeopardized. Overall, 85 percent
of the respondents indicated that they had not had such an experience. Of the respondents who
felt unsafe, most cited uncontrolled operation of personal watercraft or erratic operation of
motorboats as the reason they felt threatened. Other reasons included excessive wakes, the speed
of motorboats on the water, disregard for boating safety/disobeying the law, and instances of
boats or personal watercraft too close to the shoreline and docks. Isolated comments included
absence of lights on boats at night, shallow water and sandbars, debris and trash, trespassing, and
the number of boats.

Eighty one percent of respondents (322) indicated that they had not had any experiences
at the Public Recreation Areas or on the water at Claytor Lake during the past year that took
away from their enjoyment of the lake. Of those respondents that did indicate that their
enjoyment has been compromised (19 percent or 77 respondents), the most often cited reasons

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 57 October 2008
were debris/trash, boaters disobeying laws or behaving rudely, and uncontrolled jet skis. Table
30 details the issues mentioned as reasons for having enjoyment compromised.

Table 30. Experiences at public recreation areas or on the water that took enjoyment
away from shoreline residents.

Experience When Location


Trash and debris (11) All summer, Peak Creek to the mouth of the lake;
weekends Conrad Brothers Marine; DeHaven
Park; Rock House Marina; State Park
Uncontrolled jet skis (10) Spring and summer, Dublin Hollow; Lakeview; Peak
weekends Creek; Allisonia; Hiwassee, NR Trail
Crossing; dam area; Rock Creek;
State Park to the dam; Claytor Lake;
Estates Cove
Silt build up and sandbars (8) Year round Above Draper Bridge; between the
cove and Homestead Inn; Water
Front Farms; above Lowman’s Ferry
Bridge; River to Lighthouse Bridge;
upper lakes and coves
Boat and personal watercraft too Summer, weekends, Little Wytheville; Texas Cove; north
close to dock or disobeying during bass of Lowman’s Ferry Bridge; Felt’s
wake/speed rules (18) tournament Cove; Peak Creek; Rockhouse
Marina; Dublin Hollow; Covey’s
Cove;
Noise (5) Weekends, holidays Near the river; DeHaven Park;
Dublin Hollow; State Park

Other, including dead animals, Summer


fishing too close to private
property, seaweed, driftwood,
insects, dogs (25)

When asked about the scenic/aesthetic qualities of the Project area, 97 percent of
respondents indicated the area was either “average” or “appealing” to “very appealing” and 3
percent indicated it was unattractive (table 31). The survey questions were not exclusive;
respondents could respond that the scenic/aesthetic qualities of the area where they primarily
recreated were “average” and still make comments as to what detracts from the aesthetics.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 58 October 2008
Table 31. Shoreline owner aesthetic ratings.
Claytor Lake
Category Number Percent
Appealing to Very Appealing 328 87
Average 38 10
Unappealing to Extremely Unappealing 10 3
TOTAL 376 100

Shoreline residents were each asked to identify three scenically appealing attributes of the
Claytor Lake area. Review of the responses indicates that the top 11 responses account for 70
percent of the attributes. Table 32 shows the top 20 scenically appealing attributes or areas
around the Claytor Project. Shoreline owners were also asked to list up to 3 scenically
unappealing attributes or areas around the project. Table 33 shows the top 20 most common
responses to the unappealing attribute question. For the unappealing scenic attributes, the 20
most common responses amount to 90 percent of all responses to the question.

Table 32. Twenty most mentioned scenically appealing areas as identified by


shoreline homeowners.
No. of Percent of all
Attribute/Area
Responses responses
Bluffs/Cliffs 150 19.0
State Park 125 15.8
Dam 61 7.7
Peak Creek 56 7.1
Upper Lake 30 3.8
Lowmans Ferry Bridge 29 3.7
Homes 25 3.2
Mid Lake 23 2.9
Mountains 19 2.4
Undeveloped areas 19 2.4
Coves 18 2.3
Clapboard Hollow 10 1.3
Farm near Dam 10 1.3
Trees 10 1.3
Above Lowman's Ferry Bridge 9 1.1
Beach 9 1.1
Hiwassee area 9 1.1
Spooky Hollow 9 1.1
Bridge 8 1.0
DeHaven Park 8 1.0
New River Trail Bridge 8 1.0

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 59 October 2008
Table 33. Twenty most mentioned scenically unappealing areas as identified by
shoreline homeowners.
No. of Percent of all
Attribute/Area
Responses responses
Trash/Debris 238 49.6
Lack of maintenance (homes/property/docks) 61 12.7
Development 22 4.6
Jet Skis 20 4.2
Invasive water plants 17 3.5
Erosion 13 2.7
Silt/sedimentation 11 2.3
Trailer homes 8 1.7
Speeding boats 6 1.3
Floating debris 5 1.0
Noisy boats 5 1.0
Power lines 5 1.0
Low water level 4 0.8
Too many boats 4 0.8
Communication towers 3 0.6
Dead animals (fish, cows, etc) 3 0.6
Dying trees 3 0.6
Airplanes and helicopters 2 0.4
Boat docks 2 0.4
Large boats 2 0.4
Storm debris 2 0.4

Shoreline property owners were asked to indicate the importance of and their satisfaction
with a predetermined list of scenic attributes. The results are included in table 34, and show that
the most important scenic attributes around Claytor Lake are the naturally appearing shoreline
and background and water clarity. The highest number of responses (28 percent) indicated they
were dissatisfied with the existing “Evidence of Erosion”, while 25 percent were dissatisfied
with the existing “Water Clarity”. These results are not entirely consistent with identified
unappealing areas, but given that 62 percent of shoreline property owners feel evidence of
erosion is important to consider in the viewshed, the topic should be given due consideration.

Shoreline property owners were asked about the scheduled drawdown of Claytor Lake
that typically occurs in November of each year. Seventy-five percent of respondents indicated
that they use the drawdown period as an opportunity to perform property maintenance. The three
most mentioned maintenance projects were trash and debris removal, dock maintenance, and
shoreline stabilization. A small number of residents (5 percent) indicated that the seasonal
drawdown was “inconvenient” or “unnecessary”. Table 35 details the responses.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 60 October 2008
Table 34. Shoreline property owners’ scenic attribute ratings (percent).
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final
Claytor Lake

Is this important to you? If yes, how satisfied are you?


Very Not very
Attribute Important Important important N/A Satisfied Neutral Dissatisfied N/A
Naturally Appearing 61 34 4 1 80 15 5 1
Shoreline
Naturally appearing 62 34 4 1 82 16 2 0
background
Water clarity 73 24 3 0 41 34 25 0
Water depth 43 46 9 2 62 18 16 3
Development 36 37 26 1 45 40 14 2
Contrast in vegetation 22 52 22 5 62 31 2 5
Contrast in shapes 16 43 34 7 55 38 1 6
Contrast in colors 21 50 25 5 63 31 1 5
Quality of docks, piers, 43 48 8 1 53 30 15 2
etc.
Evidence of erosion 62 32 5 1 31 40 28 1
61

Amount of shoreline 39 49 12 1 53 37 9 1
vegetation
Roads and infrastructure 42 45 11 1 49 35 14 1
October 2008
Table 35. Impact of seasonal drawdown on recreational use of shoreline residents.
Claytor Lake
Category Count Percent
Necessary 168 43
Unaffected 103 26
Convenient 99 25
Inconvenient 12 3
Unnecessary 9 2
TOTAL 391 100

6.3 Shoreline Owner Facility-related Issues and Recommendations


Shoreline property owners were asked to indicate their satisfaction with the condition of
public recreation facilities at the Project in an effort to uncover conditions that may not have
been captured in the on-site interviews. Project wide, 68 percent of respondents were either
“satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the condition of the public facilities (table 36). Nineteen
percent of respondents (71) marked “not applicable”, which may suggest that they have no
experience with the public recreation facilities or perhaps their experience was not noteworthy.
Of those who cited dissatisfaction with the conditions, the primary issues mentioned were lack of
facilities (restaurants, gas, convenience stores), poor restroom facilities, the need for additional
boat access or docks, and the poor state of the swimming area at Harry DeHaven County Park.

Table 36. Shoreline owner’s satisfaction with the condition of public recreation
facilities.
Claytor Lake
Satisfaction Category Number Percent
Satisfied to Very Satisfied 257 68
Neutral 38 10
Dissatisfied to Very Dissatisfied 14 3
Not applicable 71 19
TOTAL 380 100

Shoreline property owners were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the number
and type of recreation facilities at the Project (table 37). Generally, people responded positively,
with less than 7 percent of those surveyed being “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied”. The fact
that most shoreline property owners were neutral or satisfied with the number and type of
recreation facilities could be related to how people access the water, because most shoreline
owners access the Project directly from their property and do not have as much need for public
access as people who live away from the shoreline. People who responded as either
“dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” cited a broad range of needs, including some that strayed
from conventional recreational facilities (such as the lack of lake accessible restaurants
mentioned by 25 respondents). Other common needs included more gas stations, more boat
ramps and launches, the need for more entertainment and nighttime gatherings, more boat docks,
and more water accessible beaches and picnic areas. These recommendations and the specific
locations where improvements are recommended are presented in table 38.
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 62 October 2008
Table 37. Shoreline owner satisfaction with number and types of recreation facilities
at the Project.
Claytor Lake
Satisfaction Category Number Percent
Satisfied to Very Satisfied 259 69
Neutral 59 16
Dissatisfied to Very Dissatisfied 28 7
Not applicable 33 9
TOTAL 379 100

Table 38. Shoreline owner recommendations.

Claytor Lake

Recommendation Location of Recommendation


Restaurants with water access (25) State Park, upper end; anywhere;
Hiwassee end of lake; between
Lowman’s and State Park; near
Lighthouse Bridge
Gas stations (9) Hiwassee end of lake; DeHaven
Park; on the water; State Park to
Lowman’s Ferry Bridge; near
Lighthouse Bridge; anywhere
Boat Ramps/Launches (3) New River upstream; east side
of lake; Dalton side
More entertainment; nighttime gatherings (3) State Park

Boat docks/docking facilities (3) State Park; Lowman’s Ferry


Bridge
Water accessible beaches/picnic areas (3) State Park; south side of lake
Horseback riding (2) State Park
More and upgraded trails (2) New River trail to State Park to
dam; State Park; south side
More access to fishing opportunities (2) South side of Claytor Lake
Boater safety/fishing courses (2) New conference center, marina
Parks (2) Dublin, on 1-85 side

Other: basketball/tennis courts, camping facilities, Near public beach; east side of
improvements to marina (6) lake; upper lake; Paradise Point;
above bridge

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 63 October 2008
7.0 REGIONAL RESIDENT RECREATION USE AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The regional residents’ survey was designed to elicit recreation use and preference
information from residents in the counties directly adjacent to the Claytor Project. Because
survey recipients were selected randomly from property ownership records, the recipients
include both people who own shoreline property in the Project area and those who do not. Of the
179 persons who responded to the regional survey, 171 (96 percent) do not own or have access to
shoreline property in the Project area. Eight respondents (4 percent) indicated that they own or
have access to waterfront property on Claytor Lake. Further examination of the survey results
from these 8 respondents revealed that most of them identify their property as weekend, rental,
seasonal, or undeveloped. This suggests that their efforts to recreate at the lake would be similar
to other regional residents. For this reason, their survey results are included with the 171 other
regional respondents.

Respondents overwhelmingly identified themselves as white (95 percent). Fifty-two


percent of them were 60 years old or older, of which 41 percent were between the ages of 60 and
74. Fifty-one percent of the individuals who responded indicated that their average annual
income was greater than $60,000 per year.

Regional visitors to the Project spent an average of $25.80 per day. Gas expenses
averaged $7.00 per day. Food and drink expenses were $6.60 and lodging expenses were $6.40.
Boat rental, bait and tackle and other items make up the remaining $5.50.

7.1 General Recreation Patterns and Trends


In general, regional responses are similar to national and state recreation patterns. As
described above, the top 7 activities by regional residents (non-shoreline property owners) at the
Project were picnicking, motor boating, boat fishing, visiting a beach (swimming),
walking/hiking, sightseeing, and wildlife viewing. The National Survey on Recreation and the
Environment (Cordell 1999) identified the top five most popular outdoor activities in the nation
as 1) walking for pleasure or exercise, 2) attending a gathering of family or friends in an outdoor
area away from home, 3) driving for pleasure, 4) swimming in an outdoor area, and 5) visiting an
outdoor nature center, trail, visitor center, or zoo. More than one-third of the people also
identified visiting beaches, fishing, boating, and hiking as popular activities (Cordell 1999).
Walking for pleasure, swimming, driving for pleasure, jogging and running, and fishing were
identified as the five most popular recreational activities in the New River Valley in the 2006
Virginia Outdoors Survey. Hunting, using a playground, visiting natural areas, sunbathing, and
bicycling rounded out the top ten most popular activities. These findings are consistent with the
findings from the regional mail survey in this study.

The 2007 Virginia Outdoors Plan (VOP) cites the New River as an invaluable
recreational resource in the New River Valley. The river provides a wide range of experiences
for fishermen, boaters of all kinds, swimmers, and those who enjoy the scenic beauty of the area.
The VOP specifically mentions the 4,475-acre supply of flat water provided by Claytor Lake for
power boating, sailing, water skiing, fishing, and other water sports, as well as the recreational
opportunities available at the State Park. A revised Claytor Lake State Park Master Plan was
adopted in 2005. The plan calls for significant improvements at the park in terms of campsites;
renovation of the marina; construction of family lodges, a larger lodge and overnight complex;
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 64 October 2008
and an aquatic research center; many of which have already been completed. Funding was
provided for improving the campsites, constructing the family lodges, and constructing a
restaurant at the marina.

The Plan also identifies the New River Blueway as a valuable means to increase access
sites and use areas. The Blueway is a paddle trail network of streams and rivers being planned in
Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia. VOP plan states “It is envisioned as a full-service
water trail with access sites, rest areas, camp sites, re-supply areas, and maps to assist users with
trip planning”.

The VOP concludes that the supply of recreational areas and facilities is generally
adequate to meet resident demand in the developed areas of the region; however, the Plan
specifically mentions the added seasonal burden placed on recreation by tourists and the
approximately 35,000 college students living in the area. Students from both Radford University
and Virginia Tech are among the 20 million visitors each year who use the recreational amenities
offered in the New River Valley.

In this study, 43 percent of regional respondents (the population) made a visit to the
Project last year. Table 39 compares some common recreation parameters measured in the
regional survey for people who recreated at the Project and those who did not. Water-related
recreation trip parameters (days per year, typical group sizes, and popularity of season)
associated with trips to the Claytor Project by regional, non-shoreline property owners are
similar to trips taken to other water bodies.

Table 39. Summary of regional survey responses for people visiting the Project and
for visits to other non-Project waters.

Recreation
Recreation visits
Category visits to the
not at the Project
Project

Average number of days/year 19 15.6


Average number of people/party 6.5 6.0
What is the most popular season to recreate on water?
Fall 10 9
Winter 2 1
Spring 11 12
Summer 62 48

Participation rates for activities by residents who visited the Project and by residents
visiting non-Project locations are shown in figure 17. Table 40 shows the average number of
days people participated in various activities boat at the Project and at other waterbodies. In
general, respondents who participated in recreation activities at the Project also participated in
those activities elsewhere, but at lower response rates than at the Project, indicating that the

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 65 October 2008
Project is a significant resource to people in the area, especially for water based recreation
activities (e.g., motorboating, swimming, etc).

Figure 17. Participation rates.

25%
20%
15%
10%
5%
0%

Fi n g
W er s t Fi ing

Re g

g
Hu tal
Je ing

ya g

a l Bi g

er
b o ing

nb ing

r/D a ing
ng

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W gh ing
K n /T g

g
bl ng
cn ing

bi p in
Ka hin

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in
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th
n
i
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o c oe

i
a t oa at

nt
d

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ee ub

ee
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a k kii s h

ki rd

P
sh

Pu Hik

O
Ca m
ar

at
W B rb o

ts

n
S

ic
il d t s

n
C

W fe/
o

k
Pi
ot

li
M

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in

ie
m

/P
im

nk
Sw

Ba

Participation Rates for Claytor Participation Rates Not at Claytor

Table 40. Regional resident participation in recreation.

Average number of days Average number of days


from respondents who from respondents who did
Activity recreated at the Project NOT recreate at the Project
Motor boating 10.7 7.7
Boat fishing 15.0 15.1
Water skiing/tubing 9.4 6.3
Wake/knee boarding 11.3 2.0
Jetskiing 9.0 4.4
Sailing 6.5 2.5
Swim/sunbathe 10.6 10.5
Kayaking 8.0 0
Canoeing 7.4 10.7
Bank/pier/dock fishing 9.9 9.8
Picnicking 7.5 6.2
Sightseeing 13.1 6.9
Wildlife/birding 15.0 7.2
Walking/hiking 25.7 19.5
Public park 5.3 9.2
Camping 6.3 4.9

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 66 October 2008
Average number of days Average number of days
from respondents who from respondents who did
Activity recreated at the Project NOT recreate at the Project
Cabin Rental 6.0 5.2
Hunting 10.0 47.5
Other 10.1 50.0

Respondents indicated where they participate in recreation activities other than at Claytor
Lake. Sixty percent of respondents recreate at other locations in Virginia, including ponds,
lakes, rivers, and parks. Table 41 lists the water bodies in Virginia mentioned by respondents
and the states of the 25 non-Virginia water bodies mentioned.

Table 41. Waterbodies where regional residents recreate other than the Project.
Waterbody Count
Smith Lake Mountain, VA 10
New River, VA 6
Hungry Mother Park, VA 4
Kerr Lake, VA 3
Philpot, VA 3
Rural Retreat, VA 3
Fairystone, VA 2
Giles Mountain, VA 1
Holster, VA 1
Holston, VA 1
Gatewood, VA 1
Moomaw, VA 1
Otari, VA 1
West Virginia 4
Tennessee 3
North Carolina 2
Michigan 2
Other 14
TOTAL 62
a
Other includes states or other countries receiving two or fewer mentions, including Texas, Georgia, South
Carolina, Wyoming, Canada, Bolivia, and Africa.

7.2 Recreational Access and Nighttime Use


Twenty-two (12 percent) of the 179 non-shoreline property owner, regional respondents
that said they recreated at the Project during the last year indicated that they participated in
activities at night. The most popular activity was fishing, followed by a mix of various activities
including enjoying fireworks on the 4th of July and camping. Table 42 shows the activities and

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 67 October 2008
average number of nights respondents indicated participating. Non-shoreline property owner,
regional respondents spent an average of 6.6 nights per year engaged in nighttime activities on
Claytor Lake.

Table 42. Summary of nighttime activities at the Project.


Nighttime Activitya Count
Fishing 10
Camping 5
Fireworks 5
Picnics/Campfires 2
Boating 2
Otherb 4
a
Respondents were able to choose more than one activity.
b
Other activities include birding, marina events, listening to music, and the Claytor Festival.

7.3 Issues Raised by Regional Residents


To see if there are issues that relate to why people may or may not choose to recreate at
the Project, respondents were asked why they do not recreate at the Project. Of the myriad
responses given by the 102 respondents, lack of interest in water-related activities was the most
often cited reason. Disinterest in water related activities was expressed in several different ways
including: not interested in boating, do not own a boat, play golf, and not interested in water
sports or fishing. The major response groupings are detailed in table 43.

Table 43. Reasons for not visiting Claytor Lake.

Reason Count Percent


Not interested in water activities 32 43.0
Too busy 10 13.5
Too old 8 11.0
Complaint about a previous experience 6 8.0
Cost 5 7.0
Distance 3 4.0
Othera 10 13.5
TOTAL 74 100.0
a
Other includes: never heard of Claytor Lake, no longer a land owner, just purchased property, poor health, do
not know of anyone who visits.

Those respondents who indicated that they had experiences on Claytor Lake were asked
about their satisfaction with the condition of the recreation facilities. Eighty-four percent
indicated that they were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the facilities. The 10
respondents who indicated either “neutral” or “dissatisfied” stated limited access for
shore/pier/dock fishing, limited public access, overdevelopment, limited boating slips, and a lack
of a water accessible restaurant as reasons for their answers. When asked about their satisfaction
with the number and type of facilities at Claytor Lake, 81 percent of respondents also indicated
that they were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied”. Four respondents indicated dissatisfaction
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 68 October 2008
and they cited nine different reasons, including the lack of restrooms, boating facilities, and view
platforms, as well as the need for more beaches, picnic areas, and easier accessibility for the
handicapped.

Five respondents of the 77 who participated in recreational activities on Claytor Lake


indicated that they had an experience where they felt their health or safety was or could have
been jeopardized. Speed, wake, and uncontrolled operation of personal watercraft were
mentioned. The timing for these events varied with the exception of the excessive wakes, which
was cited three times as occurring during tournaments. One person commented on pollution up
the river from the Lighthouse Bridge observed at the end of May 2007.

The same five respondents indicated their enjoyment at the lake was spoiled by an
experience (presumably the experiences mentioned above). Excessive wake and the operation
and speed of boats and personal watercraft were again mentioned as reasons. Debris near the
State Park was also mentioned.

When asked to recall their overall impression with the area where they primarily recreate
on Claytor Lake, 83 percent of respondents (76 people) indicated that the area was either
“appealing” or “very appealing”. The five most scenically appealing sites, accounting for 49
percent of mentions were (1) cliffs, (2) State Park, (3) lakes and rivers, (4) beach, and (5) Peak
Creek. Nineteen other sites or areas were also mentioned.

Seventy respondents provided answers about what detracts from the scenery at Claytor
Lake. Trash and debris were mentioned by 36 people, or 51 percent of respondents. Jet skis
were identified by 4 respondents (6 percent).

Regional respondents were also asked about the impact on their recreational use of the
scheduled drawdown of Claytor Lake in November. Not surprisingly, 49 percent of respondents
indicated that they were “unaffected” by the drawdown. Eight percent of respondents found it
“inconvenient” and 3 percent indicated that the drawdown was “unnecessary”.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 69 October 2008
8.0 FUTURE RECREATION USE ESTIMATE
As specified in the FERC-approved study plan, future use levels were estimated for the
public access sites out to 2050. These future use estimates are based on population growth
surrounding the Project and a recreation activity model. Table 44 provides the population
projections for the six counties surrounding the Project and the City of Radford. Population
projections were made for these counties using population data from the U.S. Census Bureau
(U.S. Census, 2006). Census data and projections from 1960 through 2030 were used to
calculate an average percentage increase for each 10-year period. The county populations were
then projected to the year 2050 using the average percentage growth for the entire time period.
The recreation activity model includes population and demographic predictions with expected
changes in recreation related activities and behaviors (e.g., participation rates in certain activities,
the number of recreation days for each activity). The model divides the U.S. population into four
regions of the U.S. The future use estimates at the Claytor Project are based on the model
estimates for the South region, which includes Virginia. The model is based on 1995 population
estimates and trends. To standardize the model indices with current population numbers and
estimates, the populations between current conditions within the Claytor Project area were
compared to those in the South Region of the Cordell model. A ratio between the Cordell
estimates with the current estimates was generated to adjust Cordell’s population estimates to
local conditions. This ratio was then multiplied by the activity growth index value in the model
to estimate future use levels. In general, the population around the Claytor Project is expected to
grow more slowly than the regional recreation area identified by Cordell (comparing the
population growth with the market area growth index).

Table 44. Population projections for counties adjacent to the Project.


County 1995 2000 2006 2010 2020 2030 2040a 2050a
Radford City 16,588 15,859 14,525 15,700 15,700 15,700 16,974 18,352
Floyd 12,219 13,874 14,789 15,800 17,200 18,500 20,123 21,889
Giles 16,240 16,657 17,403 16,800 17,100 17,400 17,442 17,484
Pulaski 34,345 35,127 35,055 34,200 34,000 34,000 35,173 36,386
Montgomery 76,831 83,629 84,541 90,800 97,900 105,000 124,663 148,008
Carroll 26,370 29,245 29,450 30,707 32,562 34,530 36,616 38,828
Wythe 25,430 27,599 28,640 28,397 29,935 31,556 33,264 35,066
Total 208,023 221,990 224,403 232,404 244,397 256,686 284,255 316,013
Claytor Project
Area Population - - - 4% 9% 14% 27% 41%
Growth since 2006
Claytor Project
Area Growth Index 1 1.07 1.08 1.12 1.17 1.23 1.37 1.52
– set to 1995 basis
Cordell Model –
“South Region” 1 1.07 1.09 1.17 1.27 1.37 1.46 1.53
Population Growth
Recreation growth
indices multiplier to
1 0.96 0.96 0.92 0.90 0.94 0.99
account for local
growth rates
a
Berger estimates

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 70 October 2008
Table 45 provides the estimated recreation use (recreation days) for public access sites at
Claytor Lake through the year 2050. Current use estimates (2007) are based on data collected at
the public access sites and commercial marinas during the period March through November,
2007, and the total estimated use for the entire year. The recreation use projections were
estimated by incorporating indexed values for future recreation use for the various activities.
The index values for each activity were obtained from “Outdoor Recreation in American Life: A
National Assessment of Demand and Supply Trends” (Cordell, 1999) and modified to account
for the differences in population estimates as discussed in Section 2.0, Study Methodology. The
indices are based on models that incorporate a number of variables, including age structure of the
population, income, race, sex, and population density and projections, as well as other
explanatory variables. Full model parameters and estimates are available from the author.

Table 45. Future recreation activity day use estimates in 10 year increments from
2007 to 2050 – Claytor Lake.

Activity Estimated Rec Use Rec Use Rec Use Rec Use Rec Use
2007 Use 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050
Motor Boating 59,993 63,696 65,991 68,033 72,383 76,640
Jet Skiing 17,215 18,278 18,937 19,523 20,771 21,992
Canoe/Kayak (Lake) 9,912 10,334 10,353 10,794 12,515 15,411
Sailing 8,868 8,568 8,444 8,461 9,290 10,627
Water Skiing/Tubing 21,389 20,663 20,364 20,405 22,405 25,629
Lake Swimming 31,822 35,308 37,651 40,383 46,133 53,258
Boat Fishing 219,104 232,628 241,010 248,470 264,354 279,903
Other Waterbased
Activities 8,868 9,210 9,416 9,715 10,676 11,982
Bank/Pier Fishing 49,559 52,618 54,514 56,202 59,794 63,311
Hunting 1,043 888 829 770 742 723
Nature Study/Wildlife
Viewing 1,043 1,317 1,533 1,737 2,010 2,273
Sightseeing 5,217 6,138 6,751 7,418 8,685 10,281
Picnicking 6,782 7,719 8,275 8,973 10,402 12,290
Tent or Vehicle Camping 3,130 4,102 4,861 5,719 7,055 8,741
Walking 2,608 2,994 3,207 3,451 3,903 4,443
Cabin Rental 522 599 641 690 781 889
Other Landbased
Activities 4,695 5,379.09 5,873 6,409 7,338 8,447
Water based activities 377,171 398,685 412,165 425,785 458,527 495,442
Land based activities 74,600 81,754 86,485 91,369 100,711 111,398
Total 451,771 480,439 498,650 517,153 559,238 606,840
Percent increase 6% 9% 13% 19% 26%
a
Activities include knee/wakeboarding and working on boats/winterizing boats
b
Activities include multi-day trips, relaxing at the lake, and cabin rentals

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 71 October 2008
Based on the above calculations, recreation visitation growth (or the number of recreation
days observed at Claytor Lake) is predicted to fall behind population growth to the year 2050.
This is consistent with Cordell’s assessment of water-based recreation in the south, in that
Cordell (1999) estimates that, within the South recreation study region (which includes Virginia)
the number of motor boating days will increase by only 16 percent by 2050 while the
participation rate will increase by 60 percent, indicating that more people are likely to participate
in the activity in any given year, but will participate less frequently than current motor boaters
do. In the context of future use, the number of people boating will increase faster than the actual
number of boating days observed on water bodies. The same trend is occurring in the non-pool
swimming activity category (used as lake swimming above). Regionally, the number of
participants in this activity category will increase by 64 percent (far faster than population
growth) by 2050; however this will yield only a thirty-five percent increase in the number of
swimming days (Cordell, 1999). This estimate does not consider the development of new access
areas or marinas and assumes the existing sites will be available in the future in similar
condition.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 72 October 2008
9.0 CLAYTOR LAKE ACCESS SITE UTILIZATION AND BOATING DENSITY
This section discusses the public access site facility utilization and the number of
watercraft on the water during select days between May and September.

9.1 Access Site Capacity Utilization


Between March 1 and November 30, 2007, 607 spot counts were made at the 8 recreation
sites around Claytor Lake included in the study plan. Parking at the water access areas is
primarily designed for vehicles with trailers; however, at times vehicles without trailers and
empty trailers without a vehicle were observed in the lots. Because the primary purpose of many
of these sites is to launch a boat, the capacity utilization figures are based on the number of
parking spaces for vehicles with trailers available at each site and the number of those spaces
occupied. This methodology captures worst case conditions because at times vehicles without
trailers use the parking lots without taking up trailer spaces; however, in the analysis here all the
vehicles counted are measured against the trailer spaces only. This is partly due to the lack of
designated spaces at the sites, making it impossible to separate out what percentage of the
vehicle with trailer spaces were occupied and what percentage of the non-trailer spaces were
occupied.

Some of the access sites have multiple parking lots and some have a single lot for
vehicles both with and without trailers. Table 46 summarizes parking lot capacity utilization
estimated from the spot count data, while figures 18 and 19 show the range of parking lot
utilization observed during the peak season for both vehicles alone and vehicles with trailers
(where appropriate). The data presented are for weekends (including holidays) and weekdays
during the more active recreation season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Because the data
encompass the holidays, the State Park shows a much wider range of use numbers at the beach
and boat launch during the peak season. The State Park offers such a different class of
recreational opportunities over a considerably larger area that it cannot be evaluated during a
spot count in the same way as the boat ramps. As such, spot counts focused on the beach and
boat ramp parking areas, two of the most popular lots in the State Park frequented by day users.
Additionally, the State Park has the space for overflow lots, which were sampled at times.
Counting vehicles in the overflow lots can result in the parking area being at more than 100
percent capacity, since capacity discussed in this report is based on the number of spaces in the
paved lot alone.

The highest weekend utilization at public access sites was 65 percent at Dublin and 80
percent at Harry DeHaven. The Dublin site has a large unpaved/unmarked parking area that
VDGIF estimates 49 vehicles with trailers can accommodated; however based on field
observations and oblique aerial photography this number is likely much higher (Berger estimates
75 although estimates are based on the VDGIF parking capacity). The Harry DeHaven Park is
the only park on the south side of Claytor Lake and is popular during the peak season with day
users; however, during the 30 peak season spot counts, there were only 4 instances when there
were more than 5 vehicles with trailers at the park (6 on August 9th; 7 on August 18th and July
7th; and 10 on June 4th). All other public access site parking lots were well below their designed
capacity for the same period.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 73 October 2008
Understanding how sites are used and their capacities can provide some insight into
which sites, if any, should be the focus of future improvements or may be in need of upgrades,
expansion, or general long range plans. To understand capacity one has to consider the number
of parking spaces and the types of activities occurring at the sites. Below, we discuss the data
provided from the spot counts recorded from March through November at each site.

Allisonia
The most popular activities observed were: (1) launching/retrieving boats (51 percent of
the people); (2) picnicking (12 percent); walking (11 percent); and bank fishing (7 percent).
During the 69 days of spot counts, fifty-two vehicles drove through without people getting out of
the vehicle. Those 52 vehicles equal about 30 percent of all the parked vehicles recorded at the
site. Sixty-five percent of the vehicles recorded at the site during the study had boat trailers.
This site is the most upstream boat launch on Claytor Lake and as such is used in a variety of
ways, including accessing the New River State Park hiking trail and as a boat take out after
floating the New River to the lake. Its most popular use is by boat anglers, especially in the
spring when boat anglers head the short distance upstream to fish in the transition area between
the river and the head of the lake.

Lowman’s Ferry
Vehicles with trailers represented 80 percent of the vehicles recorded in the gravel
parking lot; while the most popular activities performed by people visible to the survey clerks
was “other” (47 percent), launching/retrieving boats (27 percent), and bank fishing (16 percent).
The site provides both bank angling opportunities and gas for boats.

Conrad Brothers Marine


This marina had the least activity of all the sites. Very few members of the public came
to launch at the ramp here. It was most commonly used by people who own boat slips or have
boats stored on the property (dry storage) or people using the marina’s other lake-related services
(boat repair, convenience store, boat gas, etc.). This site has sufficient land to accommodate
vehicles with trailers and users who rent space; however, there is not a central parking area.
Parking is dispersed throughout the compound.

Rock House Marina


This marina was considerably busier than Conrad Brothers. The most common activity
observed at this site was launching or retrieving boats. The marina store is popular with boat
anglers and the marina hosts numerous tournaments throughout the year. The marina also
provides guiding services on the lake, drawing in a broader clientele.

Harry DeHaven County Park


Swimming (30 percent) and picnicking (20 percent) are the most visible activities
recorded at this park, typically during the peak season. Bank and pier fishing (20 percent) and
launching/retrieving a boat (20 percent) are popular year round and are the primary activities in
the spring and fall.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 74 October 2008
Dublin
Seventy-five percent of the people observed at Dublin were launching/retrieving a boat.
This is not surprising given the limited amenities at this site and the close proximity of the State
Park for those interested in other opportunities. This is also supported by the observation that 80
percent of the vehicles recorded at this site had trailers.

Claytor Lake State Park


The State Park offers such a diverse array of recreation opportunities that recording
people’s activities across the entire park in one snapshot during the peak season proved too
difficult, so attention was directed toward the boat launch and swim beach areas. The swim
beach is open only during the peak season when life guard staff is available; however during this
time it is very popular with the beach lot often completely full requiring users to park in the
overflow lot. Of the eight, peak season, afternoon, weekend counts at the beach, the paved lot
was never below 68 percent capacity. The number of beach users during this same time ranged
from 600 to 62, with an average of 247.

New River
Thirty-three percent of the people observed here were launching/retrieving boats, while
25 percent were bank fishing and 10 percent were picnicking. Examination of the mix of
vehicles indicates that over the course of the study, 61 percent of vehicles did not have a trailer
while 39 percent did (1 percent of which had car top gear). This suggests this site is frequently
used by bank anglers rather than strictly as a launch site.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 75 October 2008
Figure 18. Range of parking spaces filled during the peak recreation season
(Memorial Day – Labor Day) for Claytor Project access areas.

Filled Parking Spaces - Peak Season Weekends

30
C=30

C=15
1
C=20
20
C=5 Max
C=30
C=13 Avg
Min
C=20

10

0
Allisonia Lowman’s Lowman’s Conrad Bros Rock House Harry Harry
Ferry (boat Ferry Marina Marina DeHaven DeHaven
ramp) (vehicles) (trailer (trailer (boat ramp) (vehicles)
spaces) spaces)

C = capacity
1 = VDGIF estimate

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 76 October 2008
Figure 19. Range of parking spaces filled during the peak recreation season
(Memorial Day – Labor Day) for Claytor Project access areas.

Filled Parking Spaces - Peak Season Weekend

200
C=112
C=50
180

160

140

120
Max
100
C=491
Avg
Min
80

60

40 C=301
20

0
Dublin CLSP (boat ramps) CLSP (beach) VDGIF Ramp Below
Dam

C = capacity
1 = VDGIF estimate

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 77 October 2008
Table 46. Peak season parking lot utilization by day type.
Peak Season Parking Utilization – Public Access

Average
Average Avg. No. of Avg.
Vehicle Trailer
Day Spot No. of Percent vehicle Percent
Site Name Parking Parking
Type Counts Vehicles Capacity parking Capacity
Spaces Spaces
w/Trailers (Trailers) spaces (Vehicles)
filled

Allisonia Weekday 21 2 10% 3 15%


Weekend 9 4 20% 8 40%
Total 201 2 10% 2 10%
Lowman’s Ferry Weekday 20 1 8% 2 10%
Weekend 9 4 31% 3 15%
Total 20 13 2 2 15% 2
Harry DeHaven Co Park Weekday 21 2 40% 7 35%
Weekend 9 4 80% 13 65%
Total 20 5 3 3 60% 9
Dublin Weekday 18 10 20% 14 29%
Weekend 12 32 65% 44 90%
Total 491 19 39% 19 39%
Claytor Lake State Park Weekday 19 7 14% 10 9%
Weekend 18 17 34% 69 62%
112 50 (boat
Total 12 12 24% 35
(beach) ramp)
VDGIF Ramp Below
Weekday 21 2 7% 4 13%
Dam
Weekend 9 3 10% 5 17%
Total 30 2 6% 2 7%
1 VDGIF estimate

Peak Season Parking Utilization – Commercial Marinas


Avg.
Avg. No. Avg. No. of Avg.
Vehicle Trailer
Day Spot Of Percent Vehicle Percent
Site Name Parking Parking
Type Counts Vehicles Capacity Parking Capacity
Spaces Spaces
w/Trailers (Trailers) Spaces (Vehicle)
Filled
Conrad Brothers Marine Weekday 19 1 3% 3 10%
Weekend 11 6 20% 10 33%
Total 30 3 10% 6 20%
Rock House Marina Weekday 19 4 27% 4 27%
Weekend 12 8 53% 14 93%
Total 15 6 40% 8 53%

9.2 Boating and State Park Beach Density


Table 47 summarizes the boat-at-one-time counts recorded between April 21 and October
20, 2007. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the highest recorded boat counts occurred on
weekends (between 28 and 159 watercraft), with the greatest amount of use occurring on Labor
Day. Table 48 shows the spot count data recorded on Saturday, July 14, during the same time

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 78 October 2008
period as the fly-over. This was a busy day on the lake, with average boat densities at about 25
acres of water per boat in the main channel area from the dam to essentially Peak Creek (figure
20). Assuming all vehicles with trailers launched a boat, eighty-three boats on the water during
the count launched from public access ramps. An estimated 53 boats came from the marinas,
assuming the marinas were at capacity at the start of the day (table 49). Because the total for
public launches plus marina launches totals more than the number of watercraft on the water, it is
likely the marinas were not at capacity; however, regardless of how much below capacity the
marinas were, the majority of boats on the water during this weekend count were not from
shoreline residences. The parking for trailers at all the access sites was below the theoretical
maximum number of trailer spaces; however, vehicles without trailers took up some trailer
spaces, which limited additional launches. Examination of the parking capacities for July 14
indicates that the closest ramps to the densest parts of the lake -- State Park, Dublin, and Harry
DeHaven -- were at 38, 84, and 50 percent capacity, respectively from a number of vehicles
perspective, but the parking mix at Harry DeHaven was such that no additional vehicles with
trailers could fit so it was at 100 percent capacity. This is a common occurrence at Harry
DeHaven, where the parking launch is frequently filled with beach users’ vehicles without
trailers.

The number of watercraft on the water on weekdays drops off dramatically after Labor
Day weekend. For perspective, table 50 shows some standard boating densities used in assessing
lake capacities. At the 25 acres of open water per boat observed during the count on Claytor
Lake, the full suite of boating activities could be accommodated at existing use levels based on
the ranges developed by the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (Urban Research and Development
Corporation, 1977). This indicates that, theoretically, even on the most crowded days in the
most crowded areas, there is sufficient space for all boaters to recreate safely without
compromising their safety or overall enjoyment of their activity.

Table 47. Boat-at-one-time Counts


No. Day Type Date Claytor Lake New River
1 Weekend Saturday April 21 42 59
2 Weekday Monday May 21 17 -
3 Weekend Sunday June 10 90 -
4 Weekend Saturday June 30 59 -
5 Weekend Saturday July 14 130 -
6 Weekday Thursday July 26 28 -
7 Weekend Sunday July 29 82 180
8 Weekday Wednesday August 15 31 -
9 Weekend Sunday August 19 90 -
10 Weekend Sunday August 26 69 -
11 Holiday Monday September 3 159 -
12 Weekday Thursday September 13 17 -
13 weekend Saturday October 20 12

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 79 October 2008
Table 48. Vehicle Counts on July 14 at Claytor Project Boat Ramps
Trailer
parking
Filled Vehicles percent
Location Spaces w/trailers capacity
Allisonia (20 trailer spaces) 10 5 14
Lowmans Ferry (13 trailer spaces) 5 3 23
Conrad Brothers Marine (30 trailer spaces) 19 2 n/a
Rock House Marina (15 trailer spaces) 9 7 n/a
Harry DeHaven (10 trailer spaces) 15 5 50
Dublin (49 trailer spaces1) 53 41 84
Claytor Lake State Park (boat launch) (50 trailer spaces) 48 19 38
1 boat at
Appalachian Picnic Area n/a
dock
Estimated number of boats contributed from these
83 n/a
sites to Claytor Lake
New River (VDGIF)(for informational purposes only) 10 2 n/a
1 VDGIF estimate

Table 49. Number of empty slips at Claytor Lake marinas on July 14.
Estimated No. of
Location Empty Slips
Conrad Brothers Marine 12*
Rock House Marina 8*
Harry DeHaven County Park 8*
Claytor Lake State Park (marina) 26*
Total 54*
* Assumes marina slips were at capacity prior to the count and includes the empty moorings at Conrad Brothers
Marine.

Table 50. Boat Density Range (Urban Research and Development Corporation, 1977)
Density (Acres/Boat)
Type Low Base High Special Considerations
Fishing 1 0.5 0.062 Boat size, fish availability, type of fishing.
Non-Power 2.5 1.3 0.5 Boat type (i.e., canoes require less space
than sailboats).
Unlimited 18 9 3 Aquatic life, multiple use of lake, water
Power depth, shoreline configuration, policing, or
supervision.
Water Ski 20 12 7 Multiple use of lake, shoreline
configuration, policing or supervision,
circulation patterns (ski courses).

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 80 October 2008
Boating Density for July 14, 2007 (Appendix H).
Figure 20.
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final 81 October 2008
The State Park and Harry DeHaven County Park provide the only public swim
areas at the Project (the swim area at Harry DeHaven has a grass bank held in place by a
retaining wall and a defined swim area roped off within the lake, but no sand). Spot
counts at both parks identified swimmers/beach users. As described above, the beach
parking area at Harry DeHaven County Park is not well defined and users can park
throughout the area along the shoreline. The State Park has a well defined paved parking
area that can accommodate approximately 112 vehicles, but there is an additional grass
overflow area than can accommodate an additional 200 to 300 vehicles (estimate).
Figure 21 shows the paved beach parking area at capacity, with about 20 vehicles in the
overflow area and the resulting spatial distribution at the beach. Examination of the
groupings on the beach suggests there is space on the sand and throughout the lawn area
for additional users.

Figure 21. Claytor Lake State Park on July 14, 2007.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 82 October 2008
10.0 NEW RIVER RECREATION SITE USER PERCEPTIONS, USE
CHARACTERISTICS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This section presents a summary of the data analysis with respect to use at New River by
access site users, user perceptions, and issues raised and recommendations made by recreation
access site visitors. Summaries of the data from the New River site visitor interviews are
provided in appendix G.

10.1 General Characteristics


As part of the interviews conducted at the New River recreation site, users were asked to
provide some general demographic information, including race, gender, age, and income. Of the
541 respondents, 95 percent were white and 81 percent were men. Eighty-four percent of the
respondents were under the age of 54 and 46 percent were between the ages of 25 and 54.
Consistent with the other surveys conducted, many respondents (144) declined to answer the
question about their annual income. Of the 394 respondents who did answer, the following
income information was provided:

• 28 percent had incomes between $0 and $19,999;


• 26 percent had incomes between $20,000 and $39,999;
• 22 percent had incomes between $40,000 and $59,999;
• 24 percent had incomes above $60,000.
A number of other questions were asked of New River site visitors to help characterize
how the site is used. The following brief paragraphs summarize data concerning group size,
duration of visits, and other general information.

Frequency of Site Visits – Ninety-one percent of respondents indicated that this was not
their first visit to New River. On average, people indicated they recreate at New River 34 times
a year.

Season of Visits – Spring and summer were the most popular seasons for people to
recreate at New River. Together, these seasons accounted for 85 percent of the responses. The
average number of winter visits (December 1 through the end of February) per respondent was
just 3.75.

Group Size/Vehicles Used – The average group size for New River is 3.4 people and
each group used an average of 1.4 vehicles to arrive at the site.

Recreation Expenditures – On average, respondents reported spending $74.90 per New


River visit. Similar to the responses from the surveys of Claytor Lake site visitors and Claytor
Lake shoreline residents, the bulk of these expenses were for food and drink (mean = $28.40,
median = $10.00) and gasoline (mean = $23.10, median = $10.00). The remaining dollars were
spent on bait and tackle, boat launch fees, camping, and other items. Respondents indicated that
86 percent of their expenses were made in Pulaski, Giles, and Montgomery counties. They also
indicated that they would be willing to spend an average of $44.73 more per visit.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 83 October 2008
10.2 Recreational Visitation to Public Access Sites at New River
Recreation use estimates to the public access areas were based on the average number of
vehicles observed during spot counts and extrapolated to the month and totaled for the year.
This method focuses on the public access areas; however, Berger recognizes there are numerous
shoreline properties, campgrounds, seasonal RV camps, private ramps, and guide services that
provide access to the river. For all public boat ramp access sites, the total use during the March
1 to November 30 field portion of the study is estimated at 123,112 visits. Table 51 shows the
estimated use at each of the identified sites.

Table 51. Visitation by access ramp.


Visitation (3/1 to
Access Ramp 11/30/2007)
Riverview Park 6,233
Dudley's Landing 16,920
Peppers Ferry Bridge (Rte 114) 14,943
Whitethorne (VDGIF) 13,855
McCoy 20,186
Eggleston 4,787
Pembroke 15,807
Ripplemead 5,663
Bluff City 8,075
Narrows 1 3,032
Narrows 2 5,743
Rich Creek 3,335
Glen Lyn 4,532
Total 123,112

It should be noted that RV parks/campgrounds at Glen Lyn, Riverview Park in Narrows,


and other seasonal “camps” along the river were observed to be near capacity during June
through early September. This period is also popular with college students from Virginia Tech
and Radford University, as well as with visitors who own seasonal property in the area or are
renting along the river. From the three flights that included the New River, we estimated there
were 179 watercraft (of any type) on the river during the July 29 count (mid-afternoon), with the
highest concentrated amount of use between Eggleston and Bluff City. This contrasted sharply
with the April and October checks, where we observed 59 and 12 watercraft, respectively.

Boat and bank fishing were the two most popular activities for visitors to New River.
Three hundred and forty people, or 62.8 percent of respondents, indicated that they participated
in these activities on this trip and 49.6 percent of respondents indicated that boat and bank
fishing were the primary activities of that day. Canoeing/kayaking and visiting the beach
(swimming/sunbathing) were each mentioned by 22 percent of respondents as activities that they
engaged in on this trip. Canoeing/kayaking was the primary activity of the day for 13.5 percent
of respondents, and 11.5 percent of respondents answered that visiting the beach was the primary
activity of the day. All activities are detailed in table 52.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 84 October 2008
Table 52. Recreational activities pursued at New River.
Participated this trip Primary activity today

Activity
Count Percent Count Percent

Boat Fishing 188 20 166 34


Bank Fishing 128 14 82 17
Visiting a Beach
107 11 58 12
(Swimming/Sunbathing)
Tent/Vehicle Camping 65 7 46 9
Canoe 73 8 41 8
Kayak 32 3 24 5
Tubing 35 4 23 5
Other 14 1 14 3
Picnicking/Family Gathering 98 10 9 2
Walking/Hiking 26 3 9 2
Scuba or Snorkeling 6 1 6 1
Sightseeing 52 6 6 1
Rafting 17 2 5 1
Motor Boating 12 1 2 <1
Wildlife Viewing 80 9 2 <1
Multi-day Float Trip 6 1 1 <1
Total 939 100 494 100

Of those individuals who indicated that angling was their primary activity of the day, 79
percent said they were fishing for smallmouth bass. Black bass, catfish, and musky were the
target of 14 percent of visitors. From our observations, bank, wade, or float fishing are the most
popular activities noted in the spot counts for the fall, spring, and summer seasons. Float fishing
appears to be one of the most popular ways to fish; however, interview information indicated that
the most common watercraft used by anglers were jet boats. In the summer, canoeing and
kayaking are also popular activities. In the summer, picnicking, swimming/sunbathing, rafting,
tubing, and scuba/snorkeling are the most popular activities. Sightseeing, viewing wildlife, and
hiking/walking were most commonly observed in the spring.

10.3 New River Visitor Perceptions of Crowding and Safety


Ninety-two percent of respondents (500 people) indicated that they were satisfied with
their water-based experience on the New River. There were 41 individuals who responded that
they were unsatisfied. Lack of fish and low water levels were mentioned as the reason by 38 of
them.

Respondents were asked to indicate their perception of crowding at New River. Table 53
summarizes the responses of New River users with respect to the number of boats on the water.
Users indicated there were fewer than average boats on the water during their visit. Of the 532
respondents, 67 percent indicated “no watercraft” to “between few and average” watercraft,
while 26.5 percent reported an “average” number of watercraft.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 85 October 2008
Table 53. User perceptions of watercraft crowding on New River.
Perception of Watercraft Crowding Count Percent
No Watercraft 93 17.5
Between no and few watercraft 64 12.0
Few watercraft 174 32.7
Between few and average watercraft 26 4.9
Average watercraft 141 26.5
Between average and too many 18 3.4
Too many watercraft 11 2.1
Far too many watercraft 5 0.9
TOTAL 532 100.0

When asked their perceptions of crowding at the site in terms of number of people, 297
respondents (55.7 percent) indicated between “no other people” and “between few and average
people” at the site. Another 33.7 percent responded that there were an average number of people
at New River, and 6.9 percent indicated that there were between average and far too many people
at the site. Table 54 summarizes the responses with respect to the number of people at the site.

Table 54. User perceptions of crowding in terms of number of people.


Site Condition Count Percent
No other people 50 9.4
Between no and few people 51 9.6
Few people 160 30.1
Between few and average people 35 6.6
Average people 198 37.3
Between average and too many 24 4.5
Too many people 7 1.3
Far too many people 6 1.1
TOTAL 531 100.0

Ninety-eight percent of respondents reported feeling either “safe” or “very safe” on the
water at New River. Four respondents reported feeling unsafe on the water. Reasons given for
feeling unsafe included: no life jacket (1 response); the river is never safe (1); the water was too
deep in areas (1); and the water was too low (1).

10.4 Perception of Water Levels on New River Users


Findings presented in the draft report concluded that the information gathered and the
process used to gather it was not productive in establishing a baseline of how New River
recreation users are potentially affected by different flows. After the draft was distributed, a
follow up study plan was designed and approved by the FERC that would utilize interviews and

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 86 October 2008
focus group approach to develop various flow curves for recreation user groups. We’ve
provided the previous discussion from the draft report below for context and to provide the
analysis of the initial survey results.

Respondents were fairly equally split on whether or not flow levels influenced whether or
not they make a trip to New River. Forty-seven percent of respondents indicated that flow levels
had no influence and 53 percent of respondents said that they did. A similar answer was given
when individuals were asked if flow levels influence how they make their trips to New River.
Forty-five percent of respondents answered “no” and 55 percent of respondents answered “yes”.
Popular responses to how they would change relate to what kind of gear they would bring, such
as leaving the motor boats at home when the flows are low or bringing different fishing tackle if
they plan to fish. In general, most people responded that they were flexible, but that knowing the
conditions would have an influence on their primary activity and the gear to carry.

Boat anglers on the New River use a wide variety of watercraft. Figure 22 shows that
boat anglers are divided among almost all watercraft types.

Figure 22. Percentage of watercraft type used by boat anglers on the New River.

Percent

Raft
Kayak
Other
Jet Driven Motor
Boat

Canoe

Propeller Driver
Motor Boat

Almost 10 percent of New River site users interviewed were first time visitors (table 55).
In order to focus on flow-related results, respondents who were visiting the New River for the
first time were left out of the flow-related analysis. This was done because first time users have
no other relationship with the New River on which to base their experience and their responses
could confound the interpretation of responses from the more experienced visitors. Removal of
the first time users from the flow-related analysis did not affect the overall sample, because the
ratio of first time visitors was the same during both the recreation and non-recreation season flow
regimes (table 56).

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 87 October 2008
Table 55. Total number of interviews with New River visitors.
Period Count Percent
First time to New River 47 9
Not first time to New River 494 91
Total 541 100

Table 56. Number of interviews by flow regime.


All Interviews Not 1st time to New River
Period
Count Percent Count Percent
April 15-Oct 15 472 87 431 87
March 1-April 14 and Oct
69 13 63 13
16 to Nov. 30
Total 541 100 494 100

10.5 Flow Characteristics Related to Recreation


During survey development, several members of the work group expressed an interest in
trying to understand how visitors relate to the flows. As a result, eight questions related to flows
were introduced into the questionnaire. Using the survey to gather flow information was pursued
instead of using controlled flow alternatives because the study plan sampling effort designed to
characterize the level of use on the New River had already been approved by FERC and only the
questionnaire had to be finalized. The idea behind this approach is that once an interview
location, date, and time are known, then the hydrology can be added to the survey response so
that the user’s perceptions of flow could be queried along with all their responses. In the
following paragraphs, we discuss this approach and its limitations, as well as the challenges
encountered in attempting to understand the results of the surveys.

A general understanding of the existing flow regime is helpful in interpreting the survey
results. Between April 15 and October 15, Appalachian voluntarily operates the Claytor Project
to maintain more constant downstream flows for downstream recreation resources. During the
recreation season, when the Project is voluntarily operated to maintain more constant
downstream flows, peaking operations are more limited, and the elevation of Claytor Lake is
maintained between 1,845 feet and 1,846 feet (Appalachian, 2006). These flows may be
suspended in the event of power system emergencies or in anticipation of heavy inflow due to
forecasted rain events.

The Claytor Project is operated to provide a minimum average daily flow of 750 cfs.
This minimum flow is provided when inflow to the reservoir is greater than 750 cfs. Under
extreme low flow conditions, when inflow to the reservoirs is less than 750 cfs for an extended
period, the discharge may be decreased after consultation with and concurrence from VDGIF
(Appalachian, 2006). Inflows into the Claytor Project during the summer and fall of 2007 were
not substantial enough to provide a wide range of flows for other relicensing studies and the
annual fall drawdown was suspended due to fears that refilling the reservoir to protect biological
resources could not be achieved in a timely manner. However, Appalachian continued to meet
the 750-cfs minimum flow for much of the recreation season. Figure 23 shows the average daily
Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 88 October 2008
flows recorded at the Glen Lyn gage during 2007, compared with the long-term 50, 20, and 5
percentile levels. Under normal conditions, flows are highest in March (long-term median of
7,000 cfs [blue line in figure]), and gradually descend through spring into summer, with long-
term median flows in September of 2,000 cfs. In general, flows throughout the 2007 calendar
year were below the long-term median (50 percentile), with occasional spikes of short duration
lasting typically 2 to 3 days, with few longer duration events. Compared to historical records,
flows in the spring, summer, and fall were recorded at levels between the 5th and 20th percentiles.

The New River is fairly broad and, depending on the flow, relatively shallow, with long
stretches of easy moving, Class I, smooth water. As such, the river can accommodate increases
in flows without showing a great rise in elevation. Examination of the stage vs. discharge
relationship at the two New River USGS gage sites downstream of Claytor dam indicates that an
increase from 1,000 cfs to 4,000 cfs (increase in 3,000 cfs) results in a stage increase between 1
foot and 1.5 feet. These sites are not necessarily representative of many areas of the New River,
since gaging sites are often located in narrower areas of a river, but they do provide an indication
of the substantial amount of flow required to create a noticeable change in the river stage.

Figure 23. Glen Lyn gaging station hydrographs for 2007 and other benchmarks.

Glen Lyn USGS gage

8,000

7,000

6,000

5,000
Flow (cfs)

4,000

3,000

2,000

1,000

0
1/1/07
1/15/07
1/29/07
2/12/07
2/26/07
3/12/07
3/26/07
4/9/07
4/23/07
5/7/07
5/21/07
6/4/07
6/18/07
7/2/07
7/16/07
7/30/07
8/13/07
8/27/07
9/10/07
9/24/07
10/8/07
10/22/07
11/5/07
11/19/07
12/3/07
12/17/07
12/31/07

20 Percentile Daily Flow 5 Percentile Long Term Median

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 89 October 2008
Sixty-six percent of the interviews recorded at New River sites occurred between June 1
and September 30. Figure 24 shows the number of interviews collected by date during the
sampling period. It is not surprising that more interviews were recorded during the time of year
when more people are out recreating, thereby increasing the probability that the survey clerks
would interface with visitors. Comparing the dates interviews were recorded with the hydrology
indicates that 75 percent of the interview responses were basing their experience on flows of less
than or equal to 2,100 cfs (figure 25). Examination of the hydrology information indicates that
the lower than normal flows from June through September played a significant role in the range
of flows visitors could experience and capture in interviews. In addition, the study design
weighted weekend dates (when Appalachian is typically filling Claytor Lake) at a ratio of 2 to 1,
which reduced the opportunities to capture users during the week when operations are likely to
have more dynamic releases (during generation). Obviously, the success of obtaining an
interview relies on site users being present during a scheduled visit to the access area. The
chance of obtaining interviews is therefore much higher during the summer recreation season
when people are likely to be out using the river, and higher still on weekends.

Figure 24. Number of site user interviews recorded by date, March through
November, 2007.

Interviews by Date
20
18
Number of Interviews

16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
3/11/07
3/25/07

4/8/07

4/22/07
5/6/07

5/20/07

6/3/07

6/17/07
7/1/07

7/15/07
7/29/07

8/12/07

8/26/07
9/9/07

9/23/07

10/7/07

10/21/07
11/4/07

11/18/07

Date
Number of interviews

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 90 October 2008
Figure 25. Number of interviews recorded and the corresponding flow and the
running total number of interviews.

70 120%

98%
60 95%
90% 100%

50
Number of Interviews

75%
80%

40 60%
Interviews
60%
Percent
30
40%
20

20%
10

0 0%
700
800
900
1000
1100
1200
1300
1400
1500
1600
1700
1800
1900
2000
2100
2200
2300
2400
2500
2600
2700
2800
2900
3000
3100
3200
3300
3400
3600
3700
3800
4100
4200
4300
4400
4500
4800
6000
6700
7800
8300
8400
8700
Flow (cfs)

We must therefore recognize the nature of the collected data. First, these results are from
visitors experiencing flows during a below-normal flow year. In addition, visitor responses
within the same activity at the same flows can often and, in this case do, conflict with each other.
For example, a family with children on the river in a canoe may prefer lower flows for safety
reasons, while more adventuresome users want a faster, thrill-filled ride. Responses from bank
anglers had similar inconsistencies. At low flows some people were satisfied that they could
wade safely into the middle of the river (and perceive the clustering of fish into smaller areas of
the river), while others wanted higher flows. Lastly, people are generally adaptable and willing
to modify their behavior to match the conditions. This results in responses that lean toward trip
satisfaction, with indifference toward the actual flow because they know it is a low flow year.
This tendency adds further inconsistencies to the interview results.

Therefore, we do not think it is appropriate to use these interview results to estimate


preferred flows for various activities because of the difficulties in using data from a wide
spectrum of users with various motives, perceptions, adaptability, and knowledge of the river
hydrology. However, some general themes of how flow influences trips can be made. Figure 26
shows the percentage of responses to the question “Do flow levels influence how you make trips
here?” by primary activity. This assumes that today’s primary activity is the activity that users
would be participating in during a future visit. More than half of the people who were
canoe/kayaking, boat fishing, or bank angling indicated that flow levels influence how they make
trips to the New River. We focus the remainder of our discussion on these three of the four most
popular activities (visiting a beach is not included, because this is limited to the June to August
period when temperatures are conducive to swimming).

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 91 October 2008
Figure 26. Primary activities most affected by flows/water level (Response to Q 19,
appendix G)

100%

90%

80%

70%

60%
Percent of Responses

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%
Canoe/Kayak

Boat Fishing

Motor Boating
Bank Fishing

Scuba or Snorkeling

Tubing

Picnicking/Family

Rafting
Tent/Vehicle Camping
(Swimming/Sunbathing)

Walking/Hiking
Gathering
Visiting A Beach

Primary Activity

Yes No

One of the biggest obstacles to analyzing the New River interview responses pertaining
to flows is the sample size. Data can be analyzed by primary activity (Question 15 – appendix
G) or by the type of watercraft used (Question 20 – appendix G) in conjunction with the flows
during the visit. However, the sample size is diminished when we attempt to analyze the
questions by primary activity and by watercraft type. In addition, since the responses are often
inconsistent with each other within these data sets, it becomes difficult to draw any definitive
conclusions. Figure 27 shows that among the boat anglers there are conflicting opinions
concerning whether the flow negatively affected their experience at flows less than 2,500 cfs.
Above this flow, the majority of boat anglers responded that flow did affect their experience.
There is no noticeable difference in opinions between jet or propeller driven boat anglers (not
shown).

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 92 October 2008
Figure 27. Number of boat anglers who were negatively affected by flow and the
corresponding flow during their visit.

15What Was Your Primary Activity Boat Fishing

Count of 19Do Flows/Water Levels negatively affect your Primary Activity


10

0
750 1000 1250 1500 1750 2000 2250 2500 2750 3000 3250 3500 3750 4000 4250 4500 4750 8250

19Do Flows/Water Levels negatively affect your Primary Activity


No Yes
Approx Flow (cfs[250])

Inconsistencies in user flow ratings regarding the ability to engage in boating, fishing, or
swimming; rate of travel; aesthetics; and overall evaluation prevent us from drawing any
meaningful conclusions. For example, within the boat anglers, at flows both under 1,500 cfs and
above 1,500 cfs, users rated each activity condition as both totally acceptable and totally
unacceptable and the reasons were because the water was both too high and too low. This point
highlights the fact that we do not know our respondents nor do we have a uniform group of
users. Therefore, when given the opportunity to provide an opinion, users respond based on
some specifics that cannot be elaborated on. Similarly, when users are asked their preference
regarding water level, the same inconsistencies were revealed. This can also be the result of
differences in the character of the river near some of the boat launches and the fact that some
users can handle low or high water better than others. Thus, building queries by primary activity
and location seriously compromises the sample size and therefore was not pursued at this time.

The most common theme among respondents was the request for more water. Low water
can be challenging for boaters of all types for reasons of navigability, rate of travel, and safety.
When responding to how the flow could have been improved, the majority response was for
higher flows; however, even this was not an overwhelming majority.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 93 October 2008
11.0 ANGLER USE

11.1 General Characteristics


This section discusses the results of the creel sampling work performed on Claytor Lake
during 2007. Between March 1 and November 30, Berger collected 596 interviews on over 90
days of sampling effort on Claytor Lake as part of the roving creel survey, as described in the
FERC-approved study plan. The interview and count data were collected and tabulated and then
later analyzed by VDGIF creel model staff and returned for reporting. This section reports on
representative sections from the creel survey that characterize angler use levels, target species,
catch, release, and harvest rates, as well as some aspects of night angling and the striped bass
(Morone saxatilus) and hybrid striped bass (Morone chrysops X Morone saxatilus) angler
questionnaire. For a more complete data set you can find additional summary tables and model
output in Appendix K at the end of this report.

In general, angler boaters represented over 50 percent of the water craft on Claytor Lake.
Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), and
spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus), collectively called black bass (referred to in this report
as general bass) are the most targeted species by Claytor Lake anglers, accounting for 48% of the
effort. Anglers seeking striped bass and hybrid striped bass account for almost 20% of the effort.
Other important species to Claytor Lake anglers include flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) and
channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) (referred to in this report as general catfish); black crappie
(Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and white crappie (Pomoxis annularis) (referred to in this report as
general crappie); Lepomis and Ambloplites sunfishes; walleye (Sander vitreum); common carp
(Cyprinus carpio); and yellow perch (Perca flavescens).

Table 57 shows the monthly estimates of the total number of fishing boats, pleasure
boats, and jet skis for the study period as well as the estimated fishing effort (measured in angler
hours) and the relative standard error (RSE), a measure of how precise the estimate is given the
data used to generate the estimate. Lower RSE indicates an estimate with less sampling error,
suggesting less variability with the samples.

Table 57. Monthly estimates of the total number of fishing boats, pleasure boats
and jet skis with total angler hours, Claytor Lake, March-November
2007.
Total Total
Total Total Angler Total Effort
Month Angler Pleasure
PWC Hours RSE
Boats Boats
March 1,287 61 10 15,485 28.7
Apr 1,934 857 22 19,428 13.8
May 2,907 2,079 393 30,911 16.4
June 2,105 3,264 522 25,563 18.4
July 1,703 1,788 663 24,821 14.5
August 1,384 1,002 419 29,118 8.7
September 2,085 1,132 410 33,120 22.2
October 1,677 393 294 14,833 21
November 410 17 30 4,834 48.7
Total 15,493 10,592 2,761 198,113 6.4

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 94 October 2008
The number of trips each angler makes was estimated from the survey and count
information. From this information, there were an estimated 44,786 trips taken during the study
(table 58). August, September, and May were the most popular months, accounting for almost
half of the total estimated trips. Trip length within those trips also varied, with trips averaging
almost 6 hours in April while trips in August averaged less than 4 hours. Overall, the average
trip lasted just over 4.4 hours.

Table 58. Monthly estimates of number of fishing trips for Claytor Lake, with
survey total, March-November 2007.
Mean trip length
Month Total angler trips
(hrs)
March 5,138 3.01
Apr 3,294 5.9
May 6,724 4.6
June 5,334 4.79
July 4,946 5.02
August 7,512 3.88
September 7,263 4.56
October 3,610 4.11
November 965 5.01
Total 44,786 4.42

Understanding angler’s fishing behavior and species preferences at Claytor Lake helps
fisheries biologists manage the fishery. Overall, almost half the effort was directed toward
general bass followed by striped bass (almost 20 percent). Table 59 shows the intended species
and the angler effort in hours (with RSE) and relative to the overall estimate of effort, while table
4 shows the intended angler effort for various important species by month. Table 59 also
includes recent data from Claytor Lake creel effort in 1997 as well as Smith Mountain Lake data
from 1996 for comparative purposes. Table 60 shows the monthly effort (angler hours) for
Claytor Lake during the 1998 creel survey and is included here for comparative purposes. It is
apparent from table 61 that striped bass effort increases in the spring and peaks in April,
decreases through summer, and rises again in September. This spring and fall trend is also
noticeable with the intended general bass effort while effort from generalists (anglers who
reported “anything”) rises through spring, peaks in mid summer and decreases through fall,
following the recreation season.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 95 October 2008
Table 59. Annual distribution of intended fishing effort for Claytor Lake, March-November 2007.
Recreation Assessment Study Report Draft
Claytor Lake

Claytor Smith Smith


Claytor Claytor Lake Claytor Claytor Lake
Lake Mountain Mountain
Lake 2007 2007 Relative Lake 2007 1998
Intended species 1998 Lake 2006 Lake 2006
Angler Standard Percent Angler
Percent Angler Percent
Hours Error Effort Hours
Effort Hours1 Effort1
Anything 43,880 10.4 22.1 59,604 18.9 30,744 12.1
General bass 95,499 8.5 48.2 186,600 59.0 137,584 54.2
Common carp 345 100.3 0.2 0 0 109 0
General catfish 7,125 22.4 3.6 24,025 7.6 2,472 1
General crappie 5,587 25.4 2.8 7,215 2.3 10,958 4.3
Striped bass/hybrid striped 38,362 10.8 19.4 27,857 8.8 71,363 28.1
bass
Sunfish 4,352 30 2.2 9,450 3.0 318 0.1
Walleye 2,364 38.8 1.2 1,281 0.4 n/a n/a
Yellow Perch 600 66 0.3 101 0.03 Not reported n/a
1
March – December, 2006
96
October 2008
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final
Claytor Lake

Table 60. Intended angler effort (hours) by species for Claytor Lake, March – November 2007.

Month Anything General Bass Striped Bass Walleye Catfish Crappie Sunfish

March 319 10,838 639 1,313 964 947 465


April 1,023 4,223 12,978 -- 368 112 276
May 3,278 16,286 8792 -- 133 1,320 1,102
June 9,863 14,217 435 -- 248 385 415
July 11,229 8,969 3,109 -- 897 -- 618
August 9,384 12,145 1,864 838 2,596 1,565 382
September 6,797 20,096 3,202 213 1,485 436 891
October 1,841 7,755 4,032 -- 274 782 149
November 146 970 3,311 -- 160 40 54

Table 61. Intended angler effort (hours) by species for Claytor Lake, March – November 1998.
General Striped
97

Month Anything Walleye Catfish Crappie Totals


Bass Bass
March 4,484 17,778 2,372 0 107 1,679 27,171
April 4,784 24,458 1,075 0 42 2,332 33,160
May 8,581 18,189 3,126 0 2,196 994 34,388
June 10,341 25,853 2,147 96 5,083 189 46,368
July 9,362 27,769 5,293 119 9,353 576 53,825
August 8,885 28,705 5,128 463 5,416 499 51,574
September 5,762 18,141 2,696 459 945 132 28,976
October 6,104 20,647 3,701 114 572 430 32,920
October 2008

November 1,301 5,060 2,319 30 311 384 9,849


Totals 59,604 186,600 27,857 1,281 24,025 7,215 318,231
11.2 Catch, Release, and Harvest Results
Survey and count data indicate that catch rates are highest in the spring and
summer and lowest in June, July, and August. Not surprisingly there is a similar trend
for the number harvested and released. Table 62 summarizes the harvest, release and
catch rate estimates for the study period. The absence of estimates for the month of
March is not due primarily to a lack of interviews. March was a cold month, with some
boat access sites iced in until the 10th and continued cold conditions afterward. Many
anglers encountered during this month had not been fishing long enough to report any
catch. As for harvest rates in July, catch rates were relatively high compared to June and
August, so it is more likely that the generalists interviewed were more inclined to release
their fish. July had the second highest RSE, suggesting the data was skewed.

Table 63 summarizes the total estimated fish harvested, released and caught for
the study period. Overall, anglers harvested over 10,790 fish during the study, with most
of those harvested in May, October, and November.

Table 62. Estimates of monthly catch and harvest rates, with survey total,
for Claytor Lake, March-November 2007.
Number RSE For Number RSE For Number RSE For
Month Harvested Number Released Number Caught Number
Per Hour Harvested Per Hour Released Per Hour Caught
March 0 0 0 100 0 100
Apr 0.05 25.3 0.16 26.9 0.22 22
May 0.15 58.8 0.98 49.1 1.13 47.7
June 0.01 55.4 0.04 54.8 0.06 48.5
July 0 100 0.14 69.7 0.14 67.8
August 0.02 92.8 0.03 66.9 0.05 64.7
September 0.03 95.9 0.33 36.8 0.36 40.8
October 0.12 38.4 0.33 48.9 0.45 40.2
November 0.22 60.3 0.53 31.4 0.75 30.5
Total 0.05 82.5 0.29 77.5 0.34 73.5

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 98 October 2008
Table 63. Estimates of monthly catch and harvest, with survey total, for
Claytor Lake, March-November 2007.
RSE For RSE For RSE For
Number Number Number
Month Number Number Number
Harvested Released Caught
Harvested Released Caught
March 0 -- 70 100 70 107.9
Apr 1064 28.6 3120 30 4184 26.1
May 4781 60.3 30256 51.1 35037 51
June 377 57.4 1081 56.9 1458 52.6
July 88 100 3356 70.5 3444 70
August 713 92.9 767 67.2 1480 65.6
September 944 96.1 10815 42.2 11758 47.3
October 1768 43 4912 52.2 6680 46.1
November 1058 71.7 2547 55.9 3604 59.3
Total 10794 30.5 56923 29.2 67717 28.5

The creel survey data is useful for understanding which species are caught and
harvested the most so managers can identify programs to enhance the fisheries resources
as necessary. Table 64 summarizes the estimated catch and harvest rates over the entire
survey by fish species. According to the estimates, anglers caught one bass about once
every five hours while those fishing for anything caught one about every 40 minutes.
The estimated number of species harvested, released, and caught are shown in table 65.
Black bass was the most caught fish followed by striped bass, sunfish and bluegill. Table
66 summarizes the size categories of fish released by respondents. The majority of the
striped bass and hybrid striped bass released were less than 20 inches.

Table 64. Species catch and harvest rates over the entire survey for
Claytor Lake, March-November 2007.
Number RSE For Number RSE For Number RSE For
Target Harvested Number Released Number Caught Number
Per Hour Harvested Per Hour Released Per Hour Caught
Anything 0.08 144.9 0.56 121 0.64 123.6
General Bass 0.01 75.4 0.16 53.6 0.18 50.1
Common Carp 0 -- 0 -- 0 --
General Catfish 0.11 153.3 0.15 109.1 0.26 89.9
General Crappie 0.14 206.6 0.42 206.1 0.55 206.7
Striped
bass/hybrid 0.09 62 0.08 64 0.17 44.5
striped bass
Sunfish 0 -- 0.12 165.8 0.12 165.8
Walleye 0 -- 0 -- 0 --
Yellow Perch 0.08 111.2 0.75 43.8 0.84 49.6

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 99 October 2008
Table 65. Species catch and harvest for the entire survey for Claytor Lake,
March - November 2007.
RSE For RSE For RSE For
Number Number Number
Species Number Number Number
Harvested Released Caught
Harvested Released Caught
General bass 842 86.6 4,150 119.9 4,992 100.8
Bluegill 0 -- 5,510 100.1 5,510 100.1
General catfish 1,111 87.4 1,507 235.2 2,617 140.5
Channel catfish 309 93.6 888 159.6 1,197 120.8
General crappie 596 204.6 72 313.2 668 185.6
Flathead catfish 177 101.7 211 373.2 388 208.2
Largemouth bass 1,029 50.8 15,218 35.9 16,247 33.8
Hybrid striped
742 82.2 3,610 90.7 4,350 76.6
bass
Smallmouth bass 1,316 53 12,349 45.9 13,665 41.8
Spotted bass 0 -- 222 538 222 538
Striped bass 4,468 35.7 2,996 67.8 7,463 34.6
Sunfish 0 -- 9,261 68 9,261 68
Walleye 132 189.1 70 99.7 202 128.3
White perch 0 -- 326 263.5 326 263.5
Yellow perch 73 321.5 535 193 608 174.2

Table 66. Size class and frequencies for fish released reported by anglers
at Claytor Lake, March – November 2007.
Largemouth Smallmouth
Hybrid striped bass Striped bass
Bass Bass
Size Freq. Percent Freq. Percent Size Freq. Percent Size Freq. Percent
<12” 91 35.4 59 58.4 <20” 61 96.8 <20” 96 87.3
12- 20-
166 64.6 41 40.6 >20” 2 3.2 14 12.7
18” 25”
>18” 26-
-- -- 1 1 -- --
30”
>30” -- --

11.3 Angler Demographics


Claytor Lake can be considered a local fishing spot as similar to recreation site
users, the majority interviewed were from Virginia followed by West Virginia and North
Carolina, two neighboring states relatively close to the Project. Analysis of respondents
home county and zip code information further indicates the majority of anglers originate
from within the New River Valley, with large percentage of anglers living in Pulaski and
Montgomery counties (see tables 4 and 5 in Appendix K). In addition, anglers
interviewed were never with guides on the lake. Most anglers rate their fishing
experience at Claytor Lake as “Fair” (63 percent) to “Good” (17 percent) (see table 3 in
Appendix K). As to the number of days fished, other than first timers, the most common

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 100 October 2008
answer was “two” (25 percent of interviews) followed by “four” days per year (see table
6 in Appendix K).

Anglers fishing Claytor Lake make expenditures during their trips that help
provide jobs, taxes, and secondary services in the local economy surrounding the lake.
Survey data and count information were used to estimate the level of angler related
spending and estimate consumer surplus (the amount they would be willing to spend to
fish above what they already spent). Gas purchases represented the largest expense of
angler trips (60 percent of the expenditures), followed by ‘Food’ which represented about
15 percent of the expenditures (table 67). This is not surprising that gas was such a large
expenditure given the need for fuel to get to the lake and then fill the gas tank on the boat.
Of all the expenditures, just over half (51.5 percent or $236,649) were made within 20
miles of Claytor Lake indicating that visitors are making purchases closer to home before
heading to the lake.

The survey also contained questions directed toward anglers who compete in
fishing tournaments on the lake. Over 97 percent of respondents indicated they were not
competing in a fishing tournament at the time of the survey. It should be noted that the
lack of tournament anglers is due to the daytime survey methodology as Bass
tournaments at Claytor Lake are typically held at night from May - September.

Anglers visiting Claytor Lake have the opportunity to choose from a number of
fishing guides and guide trip services in the area that offer trips on Claytor Lake and
along the New River above and below the lake. None of the survey respondents
indicated they were with a guide at the time of the interview.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 101 October 2008
Recreation Assessment Study Report Final
Claytor Lake

Table 67. Monthly Trip Expenditures for Claytor Lake, March-November 2007
Expenditure Category
1998 total
Month Boat CS1
Gas Food Bait Lodging Other Total expenditures2
Rental
March $ 44,781 $ 15,682 $ 10,397 $ - $ 4,298 $ - $ 75,158 $ - $ 66,640
April $ 27,526 $ 4,386 $ 337 $ 11,471 $ 1,181 $ - $ 44,901 $ 4,752 $ 57,040
May $ 41,513 $ 4,045 $ 6,067 $ 1,277 $ 4,364 $ - $ 57,266 $ - $ 62,931
June $ 21,517 $ 14,075 $ 7,189 $ 6,480 $ 2,633 $ 2,430 $ 54,325 $ - $ 103,296
July $ 32,908 $ 5,805 $ 4,981 $ 3,023 $ 2,611 $ - $ 49,327 $ - $ 86,032
August $ 29,914 $ 5,384 $ 3,129 $ 8,652 $ 5,246 $ 1,657 $ 53,983 $ - $ 74,460
September $ 45,718 $ 16,747 $ 11,733 $ 6,096 $ 2,950 $ - $ 83,243 $ 8,619 $ 44,746
October $ 19,482 $ 2,402 $ 3,229 $ 641 $ 2,028 $ - $ 27,782 $ - $ 63,198
November $ 7,880 $ 1,527 $ 223 $ 3,244 $ 366 $ - $ 13,239 $ 1,391 $ 16,258
Total $ 271,239 $ 70,053 $ 47,285 $ 40,884 $ 25,677 $ 4,087 $ 459,224 $ 14,762 $ 574,602
1
Consumer surplus
2
Source: VDGIF 1998 Claytor Lake Angler Use Report
102
October 2008
11.4 Night Angling Results
The creel survey methodology targeted day time anglers. Relicensing participants
recognized that night angling occurs; however the participants also recognized the additional
safety concerns related to conducting night sampling. As such, the questionnaire included a
series of questions designed to characterize night angling from those interviewed during the day.
Results from the creel surveys indicate that 35 percent of the anglers interviewed have fished
Claytor Lake at night. Black bass, catfish, and striped bass were the most popular fish pursued
by anglers fishing at night. Table 68 shows the intended species of night anglers for the entire
study period based on the number of interviews and the percent.

Table 68. Species sought by night anglers at Claytor Lake, March – November
2007.
Species target at night Frequency Percent
General Bass 79 37.6
General Catfish 60 28.6
Striped bass/hybrid
46 21.9
striped bass
Largemouth Bass 16 7.6
General Crappie 3 1.4
Anything 2 1.0
Common carp 1 0.5
Smallmouth Bass 1 0.5
Sunfish 1 0.5
Walleye 1 0.5

The majority of night anglers access the lake from a state maintained ramp, while a much
smaller number of anglers access from their shoreline property or a private ramp (table 69).
Figure 28 shows the distribution of the hours fished at night by creel survey respondents. Over
60 percent of night anglers begin fishing at 6:00 or 7:00 pm and often get off the water between
2:30 and 3:30 am (see tables 9 and 10 in appendix K).

Table 69. Access points used by night anglers at Claytor Lake, March – November
2007.
Access Frequency Percent
Private ramp 30 15.3
Shoreline home 30 15.3
State ramp 136 69.4
Total 196 100

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 103 October 2008
Figure 28. Hours fished by night anglers at Claytor Lake, March-November 2007.

20
Percent of responses

15

10

0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Hours fished

Percent

Creel survey respondents generally fish at night because they believe the catch rates are
better or to avoid other anglers or boaters (table 70). Based on the estimated catch rates from the
self-reported responses to the creel survey, catch rates are better at night than during the day.
Table 71 summarizes the catch, harvest and release rates by intended species for the night
anglers at Claytor Lake while table 72 summarizes the species catch frequencies. Walleye had
the highest catch rates followed by general bass (table 71); however only one survey respondent
targeted walleye at night introducing a low sample size of intended effort for that species. Table
72 shows that general bass were the most commonly caught species by night anglers. Although
general bass was the most commonly reported fish caught at night, catfish were the most
commonly harvested by night anglers (table 73) followed by striped bass and hybrid striped bass.
Largemouth bass was one of the least harvested fish species by night anglers further supporting
the growing perception that the lake is a good general bass sport fishery.

Table 70. Distribution of responses to why anglers fish at night, Claytor Lake,
March-November 2007.
REASON Frequency Percent
Catch rates are better 97 50.5
To avoid other anglers or boaters 58 30.2
Only time to get away from home or work 20 10.4
Temperature or weather is better 8 4.2
Other 9 4.7
Total 192 100

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 104 October 2008
Table 71. Catch rate estimates by intended species for the night fishery on
Claytor Lake, March-November 2007.
Number Fish Number Fish Number Of Fish
Night Target Species
Released Per Hour Harvested Per Hour Caught Per Hour
Anything 0.53 0 0.53
Black Bass 0.65 0 0.65
General Catfish 0.09 0.09 0.18
General Crappie 1 0 1
Largemouth Bass 0.39 0 0.39
Smallmouth Bass . . .
Striped Bass 0.05 0.04 0.09
Sunfish 0.25 0 0.25
Walleye 1.29 0.14 1.43

Table 72. Distribution of species caught at night on Claytor Lake, March –


November, 2007.
Species Freq Percent
Largemouth Bass 238 29.8
Smallmouth Bass 189 23.7
General Bass 74 9.3
General Catfish 68 8.5
Hybrid Striped Bass 54 6.8
Striped Bass 48 6.0
General Crappie 41 5.1
White Bass 30 3.8
Channel Catfish 24 3.0
Walleye 13 1.6
Flathead Catfish 8 1.0
Bluegill 6 0.8
Common Carp 2 0.3
Yellow Perch 2 0.3
Sunfish 1 0.1

Table 73. Distribution of species harvested at night on Claytor Lake, March –


November, 2007.
Species Freq Percent
General Catfish 33 37
Striped Bass 17 19
Hybrid Striped Bass 16 18
Channel Catfish 13 14
Flathead Catfish 7 8
Largemouth Bass 2 2
Walleye 2 2

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 105 October 2008
11.5 Striped Bass Angler Responses
During study plan development, VDGIF requested that striped bass and hybrid striped
bass anglers answer additional questions related to their trip. Questions were developed by
VDGIF and included with survey materials and administered to the specific target group.
Overall, anglers targeting these two species target both rather than one or the other as presented
in table 74. The follow up question was related to the time of year they pursued these fish.
Figure 29 shows that, similar to the earlier effort information presented above, striped bass
anglers focus their time in spring and fall months.

Table 74. Species preferred by striped bass anglers at Claytor Lake, March –
November 2007.
Species preference Frequency Percent
Striped bass only 2 1.9
Hybrid striped bass only 2 1.9
Both species 99 96.1

Figure 29. Months fished by striped bass supplement respondents, Claytor Lake,
March – November, 2007.

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

0
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Percent

Striper anglers were then asked questions about their experience fishing for stripers at the
lake (years experience), their views on the quality of the fishery, and how it may have changed
within the past 5 years. Overall, anglers responded a bit more favorably regarding the quality of
the fishery, with the majority of respondents answering “fair” and “good”. As for fishing
pressure, slightly more than half reported that pressure is the same as it was 5 years ago, while 26
percent reported that pressure had increased somewhat. Anglers opinions on the size of stripers
caught in Claytor Lake are presented in Table 75. Just over half of the respondents indicated that

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 106 October 2008
the striper sizes have “stayed the same” while almost a third indicated the sizes caught have
“decreased somewhat”

Table 75. Distribution of opinion on striped bass/hybrid striped bass sizes Claytor
Lake, March - November 2007.
Fish size category Frequency Percent
Stayed same 56 53.3
Decreased somewhat 32 30.5
Increased somewhat 10 9.5
Increased greatly 5 4.8
Decreased greatly 2 1.9
Frequency missing = 48

Respondents then reported on the number of stripers and hybrid stripers typically caught
and the average sizes. Fifty three percent of the responses indicated the sizes have stayed about
the same. Striper angler respondents indicated that a successful trip was more about “just getting
out” (75 percent) than catching the limit to eat (less than 1 percent). As for other lakes that the
anglers may choose to fish for stripers/hybrids, 58 percent reported fishing other lakes with
Smith Mountain Lake the most popular (over 50 percent). Other regionally important lakes for
striper fishing included Boone, Cherokee, and Norman.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 107 October 2008
12.0 DISCUSSION
The Claytor Project receives over 900,000 recreational visits per year, with half of those
visits attributed to shoreline property owners (50 percent). The other half of visits (453,743)
were made via public access sites, and 49 percent of these visits occurred at Claytor Lake State
Park. As noted in section 3.2.1, the State Park offers a diverse array of recreational opportunities
that are of a class outside any other recreational facilities within the New River Valley. This
variety of activities made it extremely difficult to record visitors’ activities across the entire park
in one snapshot during the peak recreation season. Consequently, attention was directed toward
the boat launch and swim beach areas, potentially understating other reasons for visiting the
park. Dublin and Harry DeHaven Access sites were the most visited sites after the State Park,
with 95,228 and 55,068 visits, respectively. The majority of visitors to both sites were observed
launching or retrieving boats. Harry DeHaven is also popular with day users using the fishing
pier and the beach area. Dublin has few amenities besides the boat ramp and courtesy docks, and
is located near the State Park. This proximity draws large numbers of users in the spring and
summer, with use dropping off considerably in the fall and especially after October 1.

For all of the public access sites, the most popular activities recorded were (1) boat
fishing, (2) motor boating, (3) bank/pier/dock fishing, and (4) using the beach. This is not
surprising since the primary purpose of the public access sites is to provide boat access to the
water. Only Claytor Lake State Park and Harry DeHaven offer any designated alternatives.
Regional resident survey results show that regional residents participate in swimming and
picnicking at higher rates at the Project than the public site user interviews show. This suggests
that they are using the two parks that have designated swimming areas and the sampling design
of equal weights to all sites may have diluted the popularity of these activities at the Project.

Both public site access users and shoreline residents made comments related to their
perceptions of crowding on the lake. In terms of boats on the water, 82 percent of weekday users
and 49 percent of weekend users reported fewer than the average number of boats on the water.
Thirty-seven percent of weekend users reported “average” boats on the water. In terms of
crowding ashore, 62.7 percent of visitors reported seeing few or no other people. Not
surprisingly, shoreline residents perceived more crowding on the lake than public site access
users. On weekdays, 57.7 percent of shoreline residents reported few or no boats on the water
and 32.4 percent reported an average number of boats. On weekends, however, 57 percent of
respondents reported average boat traffic and 29.3 percent reported too many or far too many
boats.

For public site access users, the data support their perceptions regarding the lack of
crowds. Based on spot counts, the parking areas at most of the sites were rarely completely
filled and a relatively high percentage of vehicles in some sites were drive throughs meaning
nobody got out of the vehicle which could artificially increase the overall visitor use estimates.

Visitors reported feeling safe while recreating at the Project. The vast majority of public
site access users reported feeling “safe” or “very safe” on both the water (96 percent) and at
recreation sites (98 percent), while 85 percent of shoreline residents reported feeling “safe” or
“very safe”. When asked to explain what made them feel unsafe, both groups cited similar
reasons: uncontrolled operation of personal watercraft, erratic operation of motorboats, and a

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 108 October 2008
disregard for boating safety. Public access site users who were on the water also mentioned
natural causes, including choppy water and wind.

Eighty-two percent of the public access site users rate the aesthetics of Claytor Lake as
“appealing” or “very appealing”. The presence of trash and debris (including natural debris)
overwhelmingly topped the list of detractions from aesthetics, with the presence of homes,
trailers, and stores following as cited causes.

During the summer, Claytor Lake is filled with boaters. Examination of the aerial photo
data shows that on July 14th (a Saturday in peak season), the overwhelming majority of boats on
the water were launched from the public access sites or marinas. This helps explain shoreline
owners’ perceptions of crowding on weekends. Review of the spatial distribution and density for
this same date indicates that some popular areas, such as the main channel between the dam and
Peak Creek, can reach densities of 25 acres of water per boat. Depending on boat movements, it
can be assumed to be less at times throughout the afternoon. Based on the densities
recommended by the literature for assessing capacities, high speed activities such as motor-
boating and water skiing can become compromised at these levels in these areas. Above Peak
Creek, densities drop considerably.

From the boat-at-one-time counts and mapping, it is clear there are popular areas on
Claytor Lake for boaters. From the shoreline owner surveys, on-site interviews, recreation study
group, and maps we learned that there are areas that present management challenges. The most
challenging areas are on the upper portion of the lake above Lowman’s Ferry bridge and below
Allisonia, where sedimentation has reduced the depth of water to less than 10 feet and,
depending on the lake elevation, much less. In addition to sedimentation, launching and taking
out a boat at Allisonia can be difficult at lower lake levels (or high inflows) because the lake can
exhibit riverine qualities and a subtle nuisance current can affect boaters at this site. Given the
condition requirements, this is likely most evident during the spring. Because the site is also
marketed by the New River Trail State Park, opportunities to enhance the site for bank anglers,
picnic tables, and restrooms could be pursued. Installation of a wing dam to protect the launch
could also be investigated further.

Aside from recreational needs, shoreline property owners generally appreciate the fall
drawdown and find it necessary and convenient. This information can be useful to Appalachian,
VDGIF, and other study team members in moving forward on this issue, in concert with other
resource needs (erosion, mussels).

We also recognize that the study design did not capture every possible user to the fullest
(e.g., night anglers). This is not unique to this study, because most creel surveys wrestle with the
question of how to estimate the effect of nighttime angling pressure. From interviews with
marina owners, newspaper articles, regional resident survey results, and VDGIF professional
knowledge, we know this activity occurs; however, the study design puts an emphasis on safety,
which precludes having a survey clerk in the field alone at night. The traffic counters that were
deployed record data on an hourly basis, so review of the ratio of day time to night counts can
provide some context for estimating the amount of night use.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 109 October 2008
As for future needs, Claytor Lake public access areas are adequate to serve existing use.
Claytor Lake State Park and Dublin access are conveniently located off U.S. Interstate 81 and
would be expected to absorb the first waves of any increased demand. Harry DeHaven and
Allisonia are the only sites on the east shore of the lake, and although access to them is not too
difficult, they draw mainly from local residents. Access is also provided at Lowman’s Ferry
Bridge, albeit the site is private with limited parking for vehicles with trailers, and a small fee is
required. The most limiting factor when examining new facilities is the steep bluffs that
surround much of the lake.

The Angler Use portion of the study reported that black bass is the most popular fish
species anglers pursue (greatest number of angler hours) followed by striped bass; findings
consistent with 1998 findings reported by VDGIF. Survey and count data indicate that catch
rates are highest in the spring and summer and lowest in June, July, and August. According to
the estimates, anglers caught one bass about once every five hours while those fishing for
anything caught one about every 40 minutes. Anglers at Claytor lake spent almost $500,000 on
their trips, down slightly from 1998 estimates of $574,000. Night angling is popular with the
majority of night anglers accessing the lake via a state ramp. Interviews with VDGIF indicate
that Claytor Lake State Park is very popular with night anglers due to the presence of lights at the
ramps.

Public ramps on the New River between U.S. Interstate 81 and Glen Lyn received an
estimated 123,000 users between March 1 and November 30, 2007. Ninety-one percent of users
interviewed indicated that this was not their first visit; however, the area around McCoy and
McCoy Falls receive a fair share of college students and other young people enjoying the inner
tube rental/transport service in the area. Unlike many of the boat ramp-only facilities, this part of
the river is popular for swimming because of the many frontage roads that provide easy access to
the water. The New River is one of the most popular rivers in Virginia to fish and there are
many businesses that cater to river users by supplying rentals, guided trips (angling and non-
angling), equipment sales, transportation, and/or lodging. Our spot counts indicate that float
fishing was the most popular activity observed; while boat fishing was the most popular primary
activity mentioned in the interviews.

Survey questions related to flow gathered from general users were not particularly useful
in understanding user groups flow preferences or how recreation could change under different
flow regimes. Results from the separate New River Recreation Focus Group study are reported
under a separate cover. In general, flow can influence trips in any number of ways, depending
on a visitors intended activity. For example, many people mentioned they may not bring a boat
on a trip if they know the water levels are low because low water affects boating safety,
navigation, and fishable areas. Some people also believe that low water levels negatively affect
the fishing. Similarly, canoe and kayak users may prefer faster rides at higher flows; however,
families with children may prefer lower flows for safety reasons. Safety is also a consideration
for people who want to swim and scuba dive, both commenting that too high or too low a flow
poses various risks to their activity.

2007 was a low water year, which was relevant to responses to flow-related interview
questions. In addition to being a low water year, Appalachian’s releases were reduced so that the
fluctuations in flows from generation were reduced as well. Because it was a low water year,

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 110 October 2008
some river users may have already factored this information into their decision about what kind
of trip they were going to make. Others seeking the same activity, but anticipating higher flows,
would have perceived the lower flows as a problem. Thus, there was no clear indication from
the responses that low flows either were or were not an issue. These conditions compromised
our ability to draw definitive flow preferences by user groups or by primary activity; however
alternatively, users overall experience is not entirely based on flow and people still had
satisfactory trips based on other, un-sampled, criteria.

The length of the river may be a further obstacle to studying flow preferences, because
there may be enough differences in the length to dampen the effects of the flow alternatives. For
example, if flows are too high to use stretch “A”, then they might be perfect for stretch “B”. The
nature of this type of situation suggests that the same inconsistencies would arise if this had been
a normal water year with normal flows. If the interview results from this past year are
representative of users’ perceptions related to flows, then flow preferences for recreational
purposes may play a smaller role than other issues (e.g., instream flows) when balancing
operations in light of resource needs. Results from the New River Recreation Focus Groups
cover issues related to users and flows.

The Claytor Lake Recreation and Angler Use study was designed to assist Appalachian
and the study group in understanding the existing recreation resources associated with the FERC-
licensed hydropower project. Study scope and duration were developed in conjunction with the
study team and the study methods were approved by FERC. The limitations of the data, as
discussed in section 2.14, have been addressed by using alternative data sources and are
sufficient to characterize the types of activities and level of visitation at Claytor Project. As
such, this concludes the field sampling portion of the study.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 111 October 2008
13.0 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The task plan for the recreation study lists the following objectives, all of which were
accomplished:

• Identify and inventory existing recreation sites and opportunities;


• Collect information regarding recreational use at existing formal and informal
sites in the Project area;
• Collect information regarding recreational users and potential users of the Project
area; and
• Summarize recreation use/demand from the information collected and the
recreational use and needs assessment and propose enhancements and new
facilities to address any identified needs.
These objectives were accomplished through the following methods:

• 9 sites were inventoried within the Project boundary


• 866 interviews were conducted with public access site users within the Project
boundary
• 607 spot counts were made at 8 sites within the Project boundary
• 578 mail surveys were returned by regional and shoreline property owners
• 13 days of boats-at-one-time counts were made on Claytor Lake between April
and October
• 541 interviews were conducted with public access site users along the New River
downstream of the Project boundary
• 427 spot counts were made at 13 sites along the New River
• 3 boats-at-one-time counts were made for watercraft on the New River (April,
July, and October)
• 90 days of roving creel surveys were conducted on Claytor Lake between March
and November
• 597 creel surveys were conducted with anglers on Claytor Lake

Findings
• The region is rich with water-based recreational opportunities and Claytor Lake is
a significant feature within the New River Valley. Regional residents who do not
currently recreate at the Project stay away primarily because they are not
interested in these opportunities or are not able to participate.
• Claytor Lake is a popular angling lake, while Claytor Lake State Park provides a
wide spectrum of recreational opportunities and the highest number of users to the
lake.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 112 October 2008
• More than 450,000 recreation days were recorded at the public recreation sites
and commercial marinas in 2007. Shoreline property owners contributed an
additional 449,000 recreation days.
• Public boat launch facilities (Allisonia, Dublin, New River below Claytor dam)
are well below capacity most of the year. Claytor Lake State Park and Harry
DeHaven County Park fill to near capacity during summer weekends; however,
the State Park can accommodate additional parking via overflow parking lots that
were not considered part of the design capacity. Trailer parking at Harry
DeHaven is limited when beach, picnic, and bank anglers use the parking near the
ramp.
• The main channel of Claytor Lake between the dam and Peak Creek is most
popular for boating during summer weekends, with the areas near existing ramps
the most popular. However, density estimates indicate that on the busiest days
boats typically have at least 25 acres of water per boat. Public site users perceive
the sites and water to have at most the “average number of people” and “average
number of water craft”, respectively, while shoreline property owners felt
weekend crowding on the water was above average.
• Public site users were satisfied with the type and number of recreational facilities
around the lake, but still recommended more boat ramps/launches, bank fishing,
parks (with shade, picnic tables, beaches, and boat rentals), and restaurants.
According to respondents, site maintenance and upgrades are needed at almost all
public boat ramps. Shoreline property owners want more restaurants with boat
access, as well as gas stations and a boat launch on the east side of the lake. Four
percent (19) of site users identified their primary activity as canoe/kayak and 17
of those participated in this activity for less than 4 hours, suggesting that they
were 1 day users who did not need portage around the dam.
• Trash and debris are the number one detractors from the scenery according to
public site users, shoreline property owners, and regional residents. However,
when asked about how much debris was on the water, 77 percent of interview
respondents reported “little” or “no debris”. The natural environment (bluffs,
trees, water, undeveloped shore) were the most commonly cited scenic attributes
by all survey respondents. Man-made scenic features included the State Park
(general and gazebo), bridges, and lighthouse near Ferry Bridge.
• Site users responded that water levels were just right. Appalachian holds the lake
levels within a 1-foot range from April 15 through October 15. Marina owners
felt lake levels in the spring are too low and pose a risk to clients who store boats
at the marinas.
• Only 2 percent of site users felt “unsafe” or “very unsafe”. Cited reasons
included the condition of the dock, vandalism, congestion, lighting, and
uneven/steep surfaces.
• The New River is a popular river for anglers and various boating interests. The
river is considered the top small mouth bass fishery in the state. The river is also
visited by thousands of tourists and college students looking to swim, float, canoe,

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 113 October 2008
kayak, and fish. Most of the New River is easily accessible and river front camps,
recreational vehicle campgrounds, private cabins, residents, and businesses
provide users with lodging, access, guide services, and equipment to enjoy the
river.
• Below normal precipitation in the region produced flows in the New River during
the summer recreation season that were between the 5th and 20th percentiles.
Low flows also reduced Appalachian’s ability to maximize generation, which
under normal conditions would have provided higher flows downstream during
generation. Several factors, including naturally low-flow conditions, a non-
uniform survey group, and differences in how users perceived the flows limited
the usefulness of survey results related to flow preferences. As such, it was not
possible to prepare a detailed characterization of how recreational use could
change under different project operation (that is, flow) scenarios which led to the
development of the New River Recreation Study.

Recommendations
• Upgrade existing boat launches with better maintenance (clean up shoreline to
provide bank angling), update courtesy piers (Dublin and Lowman’s Ferry); and
expand parking for trailers at Harry DeHaven County Park.
• Consider installing restrooms/toilets at selected public access sites.
• Maintain the lands across from the State Park as naturally vegetated and
undeveloped to protect the scenic resources in the area. Create more bank angling
opportunities at boat launch facilities.
• Consider the scenic value of undeveloped lands when developing the shoreline
management plan and incorporate measures to protect those areas of significant
scenic value.
• When water is available and in consultation with appropriate agencies, continue to
provide a drawdown that affords shoreline property owners an opportunity to
maintain their shoreline.
• Provide future boat access (if and when proposed) in low-density boating areas.
• Share release (flow) information with the public for New River trip planning
purposes.
• Develop a Recreation Management Plan in consultation with the Study Team.
• When submitting Form 80, continue to include a brief description of methods
used to calculate annual estimated use.
• Conduct additional study on the New River to characterize recreation uses with
flows.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 114 October 2008
14.0 REFERENCES
Appalachian (Appalachian Power Company). 2006. Claytor Hydroelectric Project FERC
Project No. 739. Application for New License for Major Water Power Plant Existing Dam.
January.

Cordell, H. Ken, J.M. Bowker, and Donald B.K. English. 1999. In: Cordell , H. Ken; Betz
Carter; Bowker, J.M.; and others. Outdoor recreation in American life: A national assessment of
demand and supply trends. Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing; 323-351.

DeLorme. 2005. Virginia Atlas & Gazetteer, 6th Edition.

Kleinschmidt. 2003. American Electric Power Appalachian Power Company; Claytor


Hydroelectric Project FERC No. 739, Documentation of Form 80 Preparation. March.

Responsive Management 2000. The Virginia House Bill 38 Study; Boater Graphs, March 2000.

National Park Service. 2008. Website: accessed January 24, 2008 at:
http://www.nps.gov/phso/uppernew/index.htm

Urban Research and Development Corporation, 1977. Guidelines for Understanding and
Determining Optimum Recreation Carrying Capacity for U.S. Department of the Interior,
Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (now incorporated into the National Park Service), Washington,
D.C.

U.S. Census 2006. Virginia QuickFacts from the U.S. Census Bureau. Accessed the various
counties within the study on the web January 17, 2008 at:
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51000.html.

VDCR (Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation). 2002. Virginia Department of


Conservation and Recreation, Division of Planning and Recreation Resources, Conservation and
Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. February 2002. 440 pages

VDGIF (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries). 2008. Accessed at:
http://www.dgif.state.va.us/fishing/waterbodies/display.asp?id=163&section=fishing on January
25, 2008.

VOP (Virginia Outdoors Plan), 2007. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Accessed from http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/recreational_planning/vop.shtml on January 24,
2008.

Weather Underground. 2006. Weather Underground website, accessed on the web at:
http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KROA/2006/9/4/WeeklyHistory.html
website accessed December 7, 2006.

Claytor Lake
Recreation Assessment Study Report 115 October 2008

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