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Blueway renamed after Woodruff

Town of Farmville officials held a dedication ceremony on Friday, Oct. 18, near Wilck’s Lake honoring and renaming the Farmville Blueway after Lee Woodruff, a man that many say has a passion and love for the great outdoors.

Now known as the Lee Woodruff Blueway, the paddle trail is a protected stream corridor maintained for recreational canoeing and kayaking by the Friends of the Appomattox River (FAR) and the Town of Farmville.

Because of all his work on the paddling trail the FAR requested the Town of Farmville rename the Blueway after Woodruff.

“Lee has spent countless hours working alone to remove obstacles necessary to keep the Blueway Trail open and enjoyable to paddle,” said FAR member Damien Fehrer. “He’s been known to work by himself for days on end until a dangerous obstruction is safely removed. Oftentimes, he’ll work until he or his chain saw, run out of gas.”

Woodruff, who joined The Friends of the Appomattox River (FAR) in 2001, said he did so because he liked the group’s mission of preserving the natural and cultural resources of the Appomattox River. “Each time I paddle this section of the Blueway it puts me closer to nature, it refreshes my soul and makes me feel blessed to live in this wonderful community,” said Woodruff. “I feel very honored for this, but I could not have accomplished much without the generous support of the Town of Farmville and the FAR. We have worked together to have this nice resource.”

According to Fehrer, since becoming a member of the Friends of the Appomattox River, Woodruff has led most of the group’s Blueway Trail maintenance activities. “Many of us have paddled the trail over the years with Lee, helping with maintenance and improvements,” he added. “We helped cut paths through deadfalls and build a rough trail over the portage between the lake and Buffalo Creek.”

Fehrer says Woodruff has often drafted his family or close friends to do additional work on the Blueway Trail. “In 2010, he and his family took advantage of low water levels to make the lower Blueway a safer and more beautiful place to paddle. They picked up glass bottles that day – so much glass that they filled the canoe and could no longer get into it, and they ended up walking the boat downstream to the takeout.”

Faye Green, an avid paddler of the Blueway and member of FAR, says Woodruff encourages anyone with interest to try canoeing and gladly offers instruction to beginners. “In fact, if you paddle the Blueway you’ll probably see him along the way, cutting back blocked areas or picking up trash,” she says. “My husband and I have been with him a few times when he cut huge trees from the river. Floating big logs and dragging debris away from the water is tough work, but Lee does it several times a week.”

The Lee Woodruff Blueway includes portions of Wilck’s Lake, Buffalo Creek and the Appomattox River. This four-mile water trail begins on the east end of Wilck’s Lake at the boat ramp, crosses the lake to its west side, enters Buffalo Creek, and continues down the Appomattox River to the takeout at Riverside Park. A short portage connects Wilck’s Lake to Buffalo Creek. The trail may be paddled in its entirety or two stages – the Upper Blueway or Lower Blueway. Paddle times range from one hour to three depending on the length of the trail and water conditions.

The idea for a paddling trail along Buffalo Creek and the Appomattox River was first proposed by Alecia Daves-Johnson in 1999, two years after she helped to form the Friends of the Appomattox River. In 2003, she worked with the Town of Farmville to incorporate the trail into the Town’s Open Space Master Plan.

In 2004 Robin Buckalew organized a group of Longwood University students to research the history surrounding this section of Buffalo Creek and the Appomattox River. From that research, they created the first brochure and map of the Blueway.

In 2006, during a strategic planning session that reviewed ways to improve and promote the Blueway, Woodruff suggested extending the trail from the Third Street Bridge upstream to the west end of Wilck’s Lake.

In 2013, a Blueway Committee was formed to improve a Blueway map and develop signs and brochures. The Blueway Committee worked with the Farmville Public Works Department to upgrade river access points and install Blueway signs.

In the spring of 2014, the Friends of the Appomattox River conducted its inaugural float on the Blueway with 18 members and guests.