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A 'dream job' for Rappahannock steward
Friends of the Rappahannock names Northern Neck waterman river steward for tidal area of river

 Moncure, a waterman, has spent much of his life on the river.
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Date published: 1/21/2011

BY FRANK DELANO

To hear Richard C. Moncure Jr. talk about it, the Rappahannock River runs deep in his soul.

"What this river means to me is everything," said the 30-year-old Northern Neck waterman, who has lived and fished on the river for much of his life. "I'm comfortable with every neck and creek of it."

Now Moncure will have a chance to protect the 90-mile-long estuary he holds so dear as the Friends of the Rappahannock's first steward of the tidal river below Fredericksburg,

"Certainly, this is a dream job to be able to ride up and down the river in my Boston Whaler and make a difference," he said.

Hiring Moncure to monitor the lower Rappahannock is also a dream come true for the Friends of the Rappahannock, which has worked for 25 years to protect the river above Fredericksburg. Increased donations and grant funding have now enabled FOR to expand its downstream work, the organization said in a news release.

"It's all one river," said FOR board member John Mitchell. "A free Rappahannock knows no political boundaries, and we're glad to finally have the resources to expand downstream."

Moncure will work with citizens and organizations in seven counties--King George, Caroline, Essex, Richmond, Westmoreland, Middlesex and Lancaster--to explore ways to improve the river's water quality.

"It's a neighbor-to-neighbor thing," he said. "People sit down over coffee with their neighbors and go through a workbook of actions they can take around the house to reduce pollution, such as fertilizing in the fall instead of the spring or holding off on the lawn fertilizer altogether."

Moncure graduated from Woodberry Forest School and Hampden-Sydney College and worked on an aquaculture project as a Peace Corps volunteer in the African nation of Zambia.

Back home, he worked with his father at the Happy Clam, a popular Colonial Beach seafood market and restaurant that closed last year.

He then became a commercial fisherman and oysterman in the lower Rappahannock, but from the scant catches, "I could tell that my future wasn't going to be there," he said.

He, his fiancee, Jessica Hinson, and their son live at Simonson, a Richmond County fishing community flanked by Morattico and Lancaster creeks.

Moncure said his new role as an advocate for the river "is a lot more than a job."

"I come home to my 11-month-old son each day and I see who I am working for. I want him to experience the joy of pulling up a pot full of crabs, just like I did and my father did before me," he said.

Frank Delano: 804/761-4300
Email: fpdelano@gmail.com