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Rural System's

The Grayson Initiative

Ranging Within the Modern Virginia County

This is not an official website of the county and it has been developed only to collect and share information about a proposed program of activity to assist the people and communities of the County

What's Inside

Tourism and Ranging
Agriculture and Forestry
Geology and Mineral Resources
Roads and Transportation
The Rural System Capsule
Important Links
Contact Bob Giles

The Grayson Initiative is the name of a program (and a website) for Grayson County, Virginia, that describes Ranging and Rural System and what they may mean to the people of the county.

The Rural System concept has to start somewhere, and it may be Grayson County. The Initiative, also this website name, is dedicated to this end.

The site shows the county as it is currently understood (a brief analysis or description) and then suggests the potentials of a new program of diverse work that can do wonders for the county, its people, its environment, and, eventually the good it may do in demonstrating how a good concept can affect people throughout Virginia, the US, and the world. It can be an important website. I hope that you will share a link to it with others.

You may see the County's Comprehensive Plan

EPA mapper

Downloading Environmental data

Grayson County was formed from Wythe County in 1792 only 213 years ago. The date 1492 is remembered from poetry. The county was named for one of the first two senators from Virginia, William Grayson.

Home to the highest mountains in Virginia, Mt. Rogers at 5,729 feet and Whitetop Mountain at 5,520 feet, the elevation ranges from 2,180 - 5,729 feet
The width of the county is 46.3 miles.
Area - 451 sq. miles, or 288,000 acres

There are two small towns in Grayson County - Independence (pop. 971), which is the seat of government, and Troutdale (pop. 1,230). Galax is at its eastern border. Three outdoor recreation centers are within 20 miles of the county seat - Grayson Highlands State Park, New River Trail State Park, and the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. These parks have facilities for camping, picnicking, hiking, biking, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding. Mount Rogers is the highest peak in Virginia. 5,000 acres are managed by Grayson Highlands State Park.


Headwaters of the New River and containing

  1. Wilson Creek
  2. Fox Creek
  3. Peach Bottom Creek
  4. Elk Creek

Stream gaging stations at New River near Galax (since 1929) and Chestnut Creek near Galax (since 1944).

Agriculture and Land Management
Produce: Grade A beef and dairy farms; truck farms producing apples, peaches, cabbage and other fruits and vegetables.Many Christmas tree farms. Average temperature - January: 35 F
Average temperature - July: 71 F (65 summer, 42 winter))
Average annual rainfall - 42 inches (47?)
Average annual snowfall - 21 inches Annual frost free growing season - 149 days.

There are about 1200 farms

Forestry - General

From Comprehensive Plan: Improved management practices have dramatically improved the condition of recreation area forestlands; however, the present condition of the forest is directly related to early land-use practices. Much of the forestland was cleared for farming or heavily cut for the timber market and then abandoned in the early 1900s. Later, fire and the chestnut blight epidemic completed the chain of events which left thousands of acres of timber in a devastated condition, leaving undergrowth as growing stock. This has developed into fair stands of mixed oak and white pine.

Timberland has been important to the area since settlement. Today over fifty percent of the land remains timberland. While the timberland has changed due to insect, disease, fire and timber harvesting, it continues to be important to the local economy. Timberland is one of Grayson County’s natural resources. Setting guidelines to maintain viable timberlands is essential to insuring a quality environment for Grayson County. Ecologically, timberlands help maintain good water quality. Timberland filters, trap sediments and absorbs pollutants from overload, runoff and subsurface flow. Timberlands act as natural buffers along the New River, smaller perennial intermittent streams by preventing excess nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous, from entering and polluting our waterways. Tree roots help maintain clean ground water. Timberland provides essential ecosystems for a variety of plants and animals. It provides food, shelter, cover, nesting and bedding areas for a wide variety of wildlife. Several rare or threatened species of plants can be found within the timberlands throughout the County.

Timberland plays an economic role in the community based on timber severance taxes paid from 1996 to 2001, which averaged 2.5 million per year to Grayson County landowners for timber sold. The 1995 publication Virginia’s Forest: Our Commonwealth describes how $48.64 of economic value is generated from each dollar paid to a landowner for timber stumpage through such services as primary and secondary processing transportation, harvesting, construction and marketing. Using this multiplier, the value of the timber harvested averaged $121,600,000 in economical activity. These figures do not include values such as hunting, recreation, tourism, air quality, and aesthetic benefits, which are important to our economy. Socially, timberland provides a pleasant environment for Grayson County residents to live and work. It promotes public health and safety through the reduction of noise, air, water and visual pollution. Timberland promotes and preserves the appearance, life styles and traditions, which have existed in Grayson County for decades.

Annual scale of business; estimated harvest value (43rd in the State): $1,701,448

Mount Rodgers National Recreation Area

National Forest Location Map (See Mount Rodgers)

Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
3714 Highway 16
Marion, VA 24354
(276) 783-5196
( 800) 628-7202

State Forester, Virginia Department of Forestry
Abingdon Region Office: U.S. Highway 11, PO Box 978, Abingdon, VA 24212 Phone: (276) 676-5488 ; FAX: (276) 676-5581 Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe counties
Donnie Garman, Forester
Chad Austin, Technician

P. O. Box 812
450 Timberline Dr.
Galax, Virginia 24333
Phone: 276-236-2322
FAX: 276-236-4114

Key County Personnel

Board of Supervisors - Ralph E. Tuggle, Douglas Carrico, Larry Bartlett, Joe Vaughan, and George Russell

County Administrator - Mr. William D. Ring, acting County Administrator

Mount Rogers Planning District Commission (#3) - Ronald R. Catron, Chairman

There are about 16,300 people ( 2003 - 16,881) (2004 - FBI 17,917)
4.8% of population is employed in agriculture/forestry, etc.
4.3% in tourism, recreation etc.
39% are under 18 and over 65
51% graduated from highschool
36% over 25 without a high school diploma
4.2% are college graduates
15% are below poverty level
102 cases of theft, burglary, robbery out of 124 major crimes
The median household income (1990) is about $19,300
per capita income for Grayson County citizens is only 70% of the per capita income for Virginians.
Links to 2 highschools and 9 elementary schools of the County
Wytheville Community College is nearby.

Major corridors of Grayson and Carroll County

Opportunities for the future will be assisted by the Virginia’s aCorridor. Libraries provide mobile services. For Grayson County, US 58 and US 16 provides travelers the most favorable East-West route, while US 221/21 and 94 provide the preferred means to move from north to south. See: Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway. Major highways serving the Galax, Carroll Grayson area include Interstate 77, US Highways 21, 52 and 221. VA 89 also runs from Galax to Mt. Airy, North Carolina. A large number of trucking firms serve the area. Greyhound Bus Lines provide service through Hillsville and Carroll County. Twin County Airport serves the light to medium aircraft and air freight is also available. The nearest commercial airports are located at Roanoke, Virginia, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.Regional Map


Players: Grayson County Tourism Office, Blue Ridge Travel Association, United States Park Service, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Chamber of Commerce, Town Councils, City of Galax and Civic Clubs

From comprehensive Plan: "One of the more viable strategies appeared to be increasing the emphasis on tourism development, bed and breakfast facilities and recreational facilities. Emphasis would be on development of new facilities, such as artisan, civic, equestrian centers, rafting facilities, hiking facilities, and other facilities where feasible." In 2004 Attendance and economic impacts were as follows (from Larry Chambers, The Declaration, July 6, 2005):