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The History of FOMR

In 2009, Middle River was dirty with pollution and laden with trash. The River itself and four of its tributaries were listed on the Department of Environmental Quality’s and the Environmental Protection Agency's “Impaired Waters” list. Access to the River by citizens for recreation was limited.


Middle River begins and ends in Augusta County. As a shared resource by City and County residents, the River, which should be a source of pride and recreation, was neither clean nor healthy. Rivers cannot speak for themselves, so FOMR was organized to lead efforts in the community to clean the River and make it appealing to its citizens.

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  • The coronavirus pandemic creates a large growth in membership of our River Access Program, as people seek safe ways to recreate at a social distance 

  • We canceled in-person FriendsFest and created an online video of the raffle winners

  • All summer festival events, (like Earth Day, Redwing Roots) are canceled due to the pandemic

  • FOMR starts using membership management software


  • Mission Statement is amended for first time since the founding

  • Membership is at 668 households

  • E. coli Monitoring Program expands to monitor Christians Creek

  • Benthic Monitoring Program starts transition to become a Level 3 program


  • FOMR sponsors a film contest for High Schools

  • Hired first staff, Watershed Administrator, Kate Guenther

  • Part of Middle River is delisted as an “Impaired Waterway.” Twenty-three miles of the river in Augusta County were taken off Virginia’s “Dirty Waters List.” The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality delisted the segment of the river near Frank’s Mill and extending near New Hope because it now meets state standards for both E. coli and sediment

  • FriendsFest is held indoors due to weather at Valley Smokehouse

  • First Moonlight Float Trip offered

  • Dave Mangun begins as the 3rd Chairman of the Board


  • FOMR begins leasing the Verona Access Site from the Fords

  • FOMR launches the River Access Program


  • The Chesapeake Bay Foundation begins Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week and FOMR joins as part of the Augusta County event


  • FOMR becomes a subcommittee of FOSR in order to allow donations made to FOMR to be tax-deductible

  • E. coli Monitoring Program in upper Middle River launches as a Level 2  program

  • River Cleanup: 60+ volunteers from Virginia Eagle, VA Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries, Mary Baldwin College, James Madison University, Headwater Master Naturalists, and FOMR cleaned over eight miles of Middle River and Lewis Creek, hauling out 214 tires


  • FOMR hosts first of three years of Splash & Dash races

  • River Cleanup: FOMR partnered with Virginia Eagle Distributing Co., Valley Conservation Council, Ft. Defiance High School, several Crossfit Studios, and Mary Baldwin College to clean approximately six miles of Middle River, two-and-a-half miles of Lewis Creek, and all of Asylum Creek utilizing approximately 70 volunteers


  • Joe McCue becomes 2nd Chairman of the Board

  • River Cleanup and Art Exhibit: 19 students and faculty from Mary Baldwin College and several volunteers from FOMR cleaned Lewis Creek in coordination with a course at Mary Baldwin called “Sculpture - Intercepting the Waste Stream” taught by Aurora Robson, an internationally known multi-media artist. Sculptures were later exhibited and sold at the Staunton-Augusta Art Center


  • FOMR begins participating in Earth Day Staunton

  • First FriendsFest picnic is held at Jack Bookhultz’s property- 30 people attended

  • River Cleanup held utilizing 15 volunteers


  • FOMR is launched!

  • First annual cleanup held with help of Ft. Defiance High School and FOMR volunteers


  • The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)'s Nesha McCray helped write the report that described  impairments of Middle River

  • Bruce Dorries had worked with FOSR and he took the lead in suggesting that a FOMR be formed. Bruce arranged for a public meeting at Mary Baldwin University which got everything rolling for FOMR!

  • Community leaders such as David Fuller, Bobby Whitescarver, Sandy Greene, and Meghan Williamson of the Staunton Creative Community Fund initiated planning

  • Patty Schenk designed our logo

  • David Fuller was the first chairman

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