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Middle River Retreat

Middle River Retreat is a private wooded mountain community located on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge range in Madison County, about seven miles north of the small town of Stanardsville, Virginia. We're about 25 miles north of Charlottesville. The southern border of the Retreat is the Conway, or Middle, River, which was at one time the southern border of Lord Fairfax's grant from King Charles II of England. Our community is very close to Shenandoah National Park, which is a mile or so as the crow flies to our west.

Middle River RetreatThe Retreat is very heavily wooded with mostly deciduous and coniferous trees. Dominant species here are chestnut oak, tulip poplar, beech, tupelo, and sassafras. Also found are dogwood, mountain laurel, wild azalea, and red maple. Middle River is abundant with wildlife, including deer, fox, black bear, frogs, squirrel, bats, and many species of songbirds. In the spring our community is visited by songbird species including the hermit thrush, wood thrush, ovenbird, scarlet tanager, and a variety of woodpeckers, cuckoos, flycatchers, nightjars, and many others. In the wintertime we have numerous chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, sparrows, and juncos.

The Retreat was established in 1968, primarily as a weekend recreational destination. There are 36 homes in the Retreat, and there are still a number of undeveloped sites that are for the most part fully wooded. Our roads are narrow, with only one main road in and out. Some roads have numerous switchbacks. There is a 500-foot elevation change as a visitor to the Retreat travels up the mountain. Many of our homes are rustic, with wood siding. There is a small lake in our common area, which abounds in fish and is a popular recreational area.

Middle River RetreatWe began our involvement with Firewise Communities/USA recognition in 2008, when we applied to the Virginia Department of Forestry for---and were awarded---a grant for a dry hydrant to be installed in our small lake. Installation of this hydrant was done this year, in 2009. The hydrant will serve not only the Retreat, but also the general surrounding community and will make fire department access to water much easier here.

With the backing of our Board of Directors, we hope to work with our local fire department (Madison VFD), law enforcement, emergency management, and Forestry Service representatives to create a community evacuation plan. With the support of our Board of Directors and accompanying budgeted funding, we plan to implement annual Firewise projects.