Fones Cliffs Conservation

Fones Cliffs tower above the mighty Rappahannock River.Currently threatened by a proposal for a large development project, Fones Cliffs, is a four mile stretch of white colored diatomaceous cliffs rising over 100 feet above the Rappahannock River.

On October 8, 2015, the Richmond County, VA, Board of Supervisors considered a rezoning request of Fones Cliffs and postponed the vote. Our Director of Programs Jenn Aiosa gave remarks on behalf of the Chesapeake Conservancy.  The Conservancy is deeply disappointed that on November 12, 2015, the Richmond County Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning request.

The Chesapeake Conservancy is working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and others to conserve this largely unspoiled landscape, which is a place of both natural and cultural importance, and is a key feature along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the nation’s first national watertrail.

Fones Cliffs provides important habitat for the largest concentration of eagles on the East Coast. For this reason, and its importance to other migratory bird species, Fones Cliffs is part of a globally significant Important Bird Area, designated by the Audubon Society.

The cliffs also have a rich cultural history. According to the journals of John Smith, Fones Cliffs was the home of three American Indian towns and bore witness to an often-cited not so friendly encounter between the Rappahannock tribe and the Englishmen aboard John Smith’s shallop. This area is a highlight to those exploring history along the Chesapeake Trail and to paddlers traversing the mighty Rappahannock.

Fones Cliffs is an evocative landscape, offering the public a rare glimpse into the past. The white cliffs, rich heritage, and soaring eagles make this a very special and unique place in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.