Fall comes to Ragged Mountain Natural Area

More photos

A recent Thursday afternoon was an opportunity to check out the colors on display at the Ragged Mountain Natural Area. The place may soon become one of the biggest construction sites in local history as officials direct creation of a new dam here. Opponents of the dam have slated a press conference for Thursday, October 13. "Every assumption on which the dam-and-pipeline project was based has been invalidated by new information," says hydraulic engineer Rebecca Quinn, who heads a group called Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan. Waterworks director Tom Frederick, who recently estimated that the planned construction would bar the public from the Natural Area for up to two years, stands by the information he has mustered.

–updated for print at 1:18pm Tuesday, October 11


Ragged Mt. Natural Area has to be the most gorgeous place to hike close to town, especially in the Fall, with the magnificent hardwoods gowned in gorgeous color. It is a 5 min. car ride from most from anywhere in the City, and easy to bike to. Reservoir Road, that takes you to the Natural Area, is a meandering county road that passes farms, streams, and beautiful rock outcroppings.

All this so close to the city of Charlottesville and soon to be lost, if citizens don't say NO to the new dam and YES to dredging.

Visit Ragged Mt. Natural Area and ask yourself - should this beautiful forest be destroyed ?

Ask yourself, is it worth my time to try to stop this - by working to elect City Councilors that are opposed to the new earthen dam ?


In a recent edition of the AAA guide Ragged Mt. Natural area was listed as one of the things to do ans noted that Edgar Allen Poe often hiked there. This is pretty incredible seeing how there are so many other historic things to do in this area.

This is a great time to take a hike at Ragged Mt. Makes me think of "Big Yellow Taxi" - "you don't know you've got till it's gone".

Why does making the lake bigger DESTROY Ragged Mountain? Isn't it pretty now because of the big construction activity that took place to build the lake(s) in the first place? Isn't paradise already lost since we've dammed this mountain valley twice? Why can't people say "affect" instead of "destroy" all the time? Its not the end of the world, its a big lake getting slightly bigger and an area that was clear cut in the early part of last century losing some of the trees that have grown back since. It will not be a dead moonscape just because the water level rises. If you truly want to preserve Ragged Mountain, you'd be lobbying to take down the existing dams and put it back to its actual natural state, but I'd bet you wouldn't think its nearly as pretty without the lake. We've got hundreds of mountain hollows around here, so why is Ragged sacred? Its the lake(s) and dam(s) that are already there. Nobody seems to notice they are trying to preserve a man-made natural area, if there is such a thing. Just enjoy how pretty it is like the picture shown here, because it will be just as pretty later.

If this were the only option for water supply destroying all this might be a last resort, but it is not .

We do not need this new dam for our long term water supply now and probably never will - and that is a fact .

Please read this to learn why by going to our web-site and scrolling to :

"What They Said, What We Now Know"


We are looking for an angel to help save this magnificent resource for our entire community . If you are that angel or can help in anyway, please contact us through our website.

From the Ivy Creek Foundation Web-site above:

Creation of the Ragged Mountain Natural Area:

In April 1997, with the goal of providing long-term protection to the watershed of the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, the Ivy Creek Foundation (ICF) approached the City of Charlottesville with a proposal to designate the Reservoir property as a public natural area reserved for quiet hiking, fishing, and wildlife observation. Under this proposal ICF agreed to fund, design and construct a rustic parking lot, conduct a biological survey, establish and maintain a trail system, and provide maps.

With financial help from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and with the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, Ragged Mountain Natural Area was opened to the public in March, 1999.

ANTHONY!!! How DARE you use such common-sense arguments!!!

This pristine beauty will be destroyed by rapacious, greedy, county-based developers seeking to steal the city's assets for their own selfish and decadent lifestyle! After these wealthy plutocrats steal from the city's poor and downtrodden, they will pave over every inch of pristine wilderness left!

Until you realize that it's not really about the water supply, but instead actually about good and evil, then you are part of the problem.

And to read why destroying Ragged Mt. Natural Area is wrong from every angle, both environmental and financial - here is everything you need to know:


"We do not need this new dam for our long term water supply now and probably never will - and that is a fact ."

You are either using the word "probably" or the word "fact" incorrectly. If something is only "probably" true, then it is NOT a fact.

I know that your arguments are more about appealing to emotions, so you may want to avoid the sort of fact-based arguments those on the other side of this issue employ.

So the ragged mtn area has only been open to the public since 1999 and now all of a sudden it's a priceless treasure? WOW. The chutzpah of these people are amazing. The meadowcreek parkway is going over a golf course that you have to pay to enter. You would never know that if you listened to the people who want to "save mcintire".

Now I learn that this natural area didn't even exist 20 years ago, but somehow it is a vital part of the city's "urban forest"? Incredible. These people are so cynical it's amazing.

There is nothing cynical about a recently recognized area of natural beauty, and hoping to protect it from a very expensive development that has highly questionable value. I find I am getting really tired of the childish attitude from a few posters who can't accept the facts, yes facts, that numbers really aren't adding up. This whole thing smells like a power play to benefit some very select groups, while leaving everyone else to pay for it. Stop pretending that this will not have a high cost on ratepayers, most of whom will see absolutely zero benefit in the costs placed on them. Zero. None.

And yes, you can count me as a county member who wants to plain stop all growth until we really see what benefits there are for the community, and who really profits off of the massive infrastructure costs everyone will have to bear.

I know none has been selected, but has anyone even proposed a route for the pipeline that would be necessary in order for the bigger dam to be of any use?

Are there any estimates of just what building that pipeline would cost or how much increasingly expensive energy it would use every year?

Shouldn't those of use who are going to have to pay the price know the facts so we can weigh all of the costs, including the cost of destroying a beautiful natural area, against the costs of the alternatives?

A history of the area commonly called the Ragged Mts. can be found at the website for Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan


Citizens for A Sustainable Water PLan is a diverse group of city and county citizens and former elected officials, whose main concern is good environmental stewardship of our shared community resources, and sound fiscal planning.

With those principles in mind, we believe that dredging and maintaining our current water infrastructure has been shown, with new information, to be far superior to destroying Ragged Mt. Natural Area, and allowing South Fork Rivanna Reservoir to fill with silt, and the water retrieved by dredging kept separate from our long term water supply plan.

We have worked diligently to present only factual information to the public and our officials. We would appreciate any errors we may have made to be brought to our attention.

We have used our own resources to fund a campaign to stop a plan from going forward that we feel will do historic damage to city assets and community resources, and create an unnecessary financial burden for water ratepayers.

If you would like to help in any way we would welcome your support. Please contact us through our website

And thank you to the hundreds of citizens who have contacted our officials and attended many meetings to try to save this priceless treasure.

cookieJar, no pipeline route has presently been selected.
Here is the research we have done on this subject comparing costs of pipeline repair vs. replacement.

Pipelines: Comparing the Choices


And on the home page of cvillewater.info see the left hand column and click on cost matrix for a cost comparison of various alternatives.
We do have choices.

Gah!Another grammatical typo!

'Bear' should be 'bare.'

"City Looking for Perfect Community Christmas Tree"


How about one from Ragged Mt. Natural Area to commemorate the 60,000 city owned trees that will be clear cut.

Don't built the dam! I will vote only for candidates to city council who oppose it.

Dear NTK, How will you vote in the case of Huja who has stated himself that he is both for the dam and dredging? Of course hypocrisy is almost laughable but still the question is there. Remember, if this dam gets built, your water bill will triple if not quadruple.

A dam is one thing, just don't take your dog out there for a walk, cause they might disturb a bird or something....

@Old Timer, you said it well. The whole deal stinks. I am so disappointed and frustrated with the "Gang of Four" and their cronies; I really hope that Neff is elected in place of Boyd and that Dumler wins in the Scottsville district.

@sez you re: "How will you vote in the case of Huja who has stated himself that he is both for the dam and dredging?"

Don't. Don't vote for him. He can't be trusted to act in the best interest of the residents of this city.

By far the best way to vote in the case of Huja is a single shot for Bob Fenwick. That's what I'll be doing.

It seems like no one is paying much attention to the City Council race following the Democratic primary. The stranglehold that a few members of that party have on have on power in the city is the reason for the sorry state things are in here. It's high time to break that death grip and elect someone who isn't beholden to that tiny clique.

I've spoken to Fenwick and found him to be attentive, smart, open minded, and willing to not only speak his mind but to actually get up off of his ass and show people how to get something done. I'll take his straight talk over Huja's double speak any day. Fenwick has the best chance of any of the several challengers to the Democratic status quo and voting a single shot is the best way to get him elected.


The thing is, I won't see my water rates go up, I've got a bunch of wells. Wells I have had to spend money on from time to time. Be that as it may, not only will some of my offspring et hit, I have not illusions about tax rates when you talk about 250 million smackaroos. And for what?

So 29N and hydraulic can have one more massive shopping center clogging up the road? Oh, but wait, we'll build another by-pass to the eyesore across from Forest Lakes, to the tune of another 250 million. Now we are at a half a trillion, which both my State taxes and County taxes have to pay for.

And just what is it our Republican County brethren are screaming at Washington about? Spending? They don't want to pay taxes? Sure they don't, they just want someone else to subsidize them. Only Republicans and developers can be communists with big government spending and deficits.....

half a billion, Old Timer

I grew up right next door to this area and long before it was opened up as walking trails took short jaunts through the woods and on the banks of the reservoir. It was a wonderful experience to walk through the woods in the fall, surrounded by the yellows, reds and oranges on the trees above and carpeting the floor below. To say that I am disappointed is but a fraction of how I feel at the idea of bulldozing the trees and increasing the size of the reservoir. There are the remains of old hunting cabins in the woods, and though I'd never seen the caretaker's house, it appears to be at least a 100 years old, if not older. Thus, the loss of those artifacts of history only adds to the gloomy future for the area. It's easy to write off an area if it is merely a proposal on paper, rather than a space which one has visited multiple times and watched the seasons shape and form.

For more photos of the area, here are some I took on my most recent visit:

The last eight are of a nearby area, not the reservoir or surrounding woods.


Yes, half a billion. Again, typing too fast.

The best way to elect Bob Fenwick is to single shoot, but the best way to improve Charlottesville's government is to vote for Bob AND Dede Smith. Bob, Dede, and Dave Norris are likely to vote together most of the time, and certainly on the water supply issue. Single shooting Bob makes it more likely that Galvin and Huja will win, leaving Bob and Dave a minority voting block. Galvin and Huja both are in the Developer's pockets- they both received 1000 dollars in developer PAC money in the primary and received the defacto endorsement of the Monticello Business Alliance, a PAC made up predominantly of the sprawl lobby. Dede didn't receive any money from them, and her and Bob have not to accepted PAC money this election. Bob, an Independent, will be a fresh breeze for our City, but let's not leave him alone in the cold. Vote Bob (VoteBob.net) and Dede Smith for a representative Government in the public interest.

Thanks R.B. for the beautiful pictures. I love the one gazing up into the magnificent tall oaks. I have often lain on my back and looked into those trees, thinking how many decades they have graced this beautiful property . I can only believe that anyone who has spent time here, and cares about the natural environment, would do whatever they could to prevent the utter destruction of this special irreplaceable treasure in our own backyards.

I don't really have that much trouble with Huja beyond his stance on the dam. The man will actually sit down and answer your questions, in a clear way, as to why the city might or might not have done something. If it is a question of code, he can point it out to you, and he can discuss ramifications, or you can talk about real changes. He also will look at the code or rules, and actually apply them. I find this different from the other councilors with a varying degree, with Dave Brown being the worst on all counts, all the way up to Kristen being the closest in responsiveness.

I think that Bob will be very much like Huja in these areas, and he seems interested in solving problems. I hope Dede would be too.

His closeness to developers because he has his own grand visions does worry me from time to time,

This may be your last chance to commune with the spirit of Poe on this night time hike at Ragged Mountain. Spooky, beautiful and lots of fun .

I've done this for the last 2 years and it is now one of my yearly favorite local activities. I can't bear to think that this magnificent forest will be destroyed.

What City Councilor entrusted with the care of this local treasure could possibly vote to give up this wonderful natural area, and let the reservoir they own be neglected ?

I will be voting for Dede Smith and Bob Fenwick in November, who have articulated a fact based platform to make decisions in all matters, and one that will put the interests of their citizens first.

I have listened to Ms. Galvin's support for the dam plan and watched Mr. Huja's disinterest in the facts, and willingness to cave into special interests. I hope others will not turn over the care of city assets to either. The citizens will be far better served, and their assets and tax dollars protected by electing Smith, Fenwick and any of the other independents, who also favor citizens above special interests and the county growth lobby.

Ragged Mountain Natural Area Night Walk
Saturday, October 29, 7:00 pm
Take a nighttime walk at the Ragged Mountain Natural Area and experience the ghostly presence of Edgar Allan Poe who found refuge here while a student at the University of Virginia. Not recommended for small children. Flashlights a must! Meet in the parking lot of Ragged Mountain Natural Area. Directions to the Ragged Mountain Natural Area can be found at ivycreekfoundation.org/RMNA.html.