Activities put spotlight on area rivers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2008

FRANKLIN—A new event proved successful in raising awareness about our local waterways.

The Albemarle-Chowan Watershed & Rivers Day drew more than 100 participants to the city boat landing. This did not include the 110 volunteers that picked up trash in various areas around the city and county during the annual Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program’s Clean Rivers Day, held in conjunction with the new event.

In addition, a fishing tournament, sponsored by Franklin Parks and Recreation, registered 47 anglers.

The event was a joint effort among many state agencies, local governments and environmental organizations represented by a Roundtable, and focused on preserving wildlife habitat, forestry resources and water quality, according to City Planner Amanda Crocker, who served on the event planning committee.

Sussex County Administrator Mary Jones and Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson offered comments during the morning, and Franklin Mayor Jim Councill was guest speaker.

“He talked about the history of the river and its importance,” Crocker said. “He also talked about how we need to preserve the river today for future generations.”

Patrick Vincent of the Resource Conservation & Development Council in Prince George County, who was coordinator for the Roundtable, also discussed the watershed with participants.

He was happy about the outcome of the event.

“It went great,” he said, “especially once we got the folks from the fishing tournament over where we were. They were visiting the booths and picking up information.”

Representatives from The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Franklin Beautification Commission, Chowan Basin Soil & Water District, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Hercules and The Nature Conservancy were among many with informational booths set up for participants to visit.

Notepads, Frisbees and pens were also part of giveaways.

Stacey Brown with Virginia Save Our Streams conducted stream-monitoring sessions during the event.

The Soil & Water District had a fish prints activity for the youth as well.

“The mayor also gave a condensed version of his comments after the fishing tournament for the kids,” said Crocker.

According to Waverly Lawrence of the Parks & Recreation Department, who coordinated the tournament, trophies were given out at around 11 a.m.

“Along with parents and volunteers, we had 74,” he said.

“My wife, Carolyn, helped with registration, James Britt

set up the fishing poles, and Ray Morings, Tim Grant and Herbert Darden were rotating to help the kids while they were fishing.”

Rod-and-reels were donated by the Smithfield Ruritan Club, and youth from the Future Leaders Club at the King Center also served as volunteers.

Lavon Evans earned the most fish caught award, while Ja’maya Hunt won the biggest fish trophy.

S.P. Morton Elementary School also won an award for having the most representation at the event.

Twenty-eight students attended from the school.

“We’ll be giving them a pizza party at the school,” said Lawrence.

According to Riverkeeper Jeff Turner, Clean Rivers Day also went smoothly, with volunteers collecting 3.28 tons of trash.

He said that 20 teams have currently logged in as participants.

“Total bags collected were 193 by 110 hardy volunteers,” he said.

The Black Achievers ranked at the top again this year for most bags collected—36.

“Donald Powers collected the most tires, which was six,” Turner said.

Most unusual items picked up were a leather jacket, a bed frame, a U-Haul bumper, three shopping carts, a car windshield and a gill net. Sixteen tires were collected.

“All these folks should feel proud of what they accomplished on CRD,” said Turner. “I hope they will be an inspiration for other individuals, schools and organizations next year when CRD will be held April 18.”

Franklin Public Works disposed of trash collected, VDOT supplied garbage bags and safety equipment, and Southampton Litter Control Council provided litter getters.

“The Roundtable did a great job this year in its first association with CRD,” he said. “I hope that will continue to grow in the following years.”