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CVALC: "Can I Interest You In An Island?"

Written by Alyssa Wilson, University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern

A lush riparian habitat with a variety of plants and wildlife sits on the banks of the James River called Bald Eagle Island. The two-acre island has been waiting for stewards of the Earth who will take care of the beauty it has to offer and enjoy its waters.

Owned by the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation (GLCF) since 2020, Bald Eagle Island is now under the care of Central Virginia Land Conservancy (CVALC), an organization dedicated to conservation and education.

CVALC works with local, rural landowners across five area counties and the City of Lynchburg. Presently, CVALC protects roughly 5,900 acres of farms, forests, and wildlife habitat across Central Virginia.

CVALC was founded by a group of citizens who shared a sense of urgency regarding the preservation and conservation of the forests, farmlands, and other natural and historic resources in this beautiful part of Virginia. In 2019, CVALC merged with the Roanoke-based Blue Ridge Land Conservancy to share resources and help conserve even more land.

When Kyle Simpson, program manager of CVALC and Executive Director David Perry met with CEO and President of GLCF, Kathryn Yarzebinski, it was clear that the organization would be the perfect fit to take over the island to honor the donor’s wishes. At that meeting, Kathryn asked a now famous question, “Can I interest you in an island?”

The island was donated to the Blackwater Creek Association in 2002 by Mr. Tucker Carrington, formerly of Lynchburg, to be used as an outdoor classroom by members of the Boy Scouts of America (specifically Venturing Crew #1776, which was chartered by the Blackwater Creek Association). After Venturing Crew #1776 and the Blackwater Creek Association disbanded, the island was conveyed to the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation.

Taking ownership of Bald Eagle Island marks a new chapter for the Central Virginia Land Conservancy, founded in 2003. Wendy Kendrick, one of CVALC’s founders and an Amherst County resident remarked, “This is an exciting milestone for our group and a wonderful opportunity to protect important wildlife habitat and scenic views along the James River in perpetuity. We want to make sure that 100 years from now, anyone traveling down the river will be able to enjoy it just as we are today.”

CVALC is organizing a convoy of canoeists and kayakers on May 23, 2024 at 9:00 am  to celebrate the preservation of Bald Eagle Island in Amherst County. A Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance ribbon-cutting will be held on the island to mark the transfer of the land from the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation (GLCF) to CVALC who will preserve it in its natural and undisturbed state.

The conservation convoy will depart Monacan Park at 9:00 am on May 23, traveling 1.5 miles upstream to Bald Eagle Island for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, before returning downstream (3 mile round trip). Parking will be at Monacan Park with additional overflow parking at Elon Presbyterian Church and a shuttle service to the park. Participants are encouraged to arrive 20 to 30 minutes early to have time to drop off boats and gear.

This flatwater section of the James River is impounded by dams and has very little current. The convoy is appropriate for beginner and experienced paddlers with their own boats and gear - no rentals or loaner equipment will be available.

Anyone wishing to participate should register at For questions or additional details about the event, contact Kyle Simpson with the Central Virginia Land Conservancy at or 434-942-4320.  

Learn more about the Central Virginia Land Conservancy by visiting their SHARE Greater Lynchburg profile.

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