Riverkeeper catches boatload of trash

Published 10:17 am Monday, March 4, 2013

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner picked up a boatload of trash during his recent journey. SUBMITTED/JEFF TURNER

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner picked up a boatload of trash during his recent journey. SUBMITTED/JEFF TURNER



Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 28th through the 2nd on the Blackwater below Franklin.

The water was high at 1.30 feet on the Franklin U.S. Geological Survey gauge, 44 degrees and just a little stained. Air temps ranged from 35 to 52 degrees.

I was sooo glad to finally get back on the river. It had been like eight weeks since I last patrolled.

The place I stay below Franklin I call the Beaver Hole. Years ago there was an abandoned beaver lodge there, not the big ones like you see on TV, but the typical river type where they use a washed-out place under the roots of a tree along the bank and then just add to it.

Lazy beaver lodging is what I call it. Anyway, I named it the Beaver Hole.

Well, it has been so long since I have been there; the beavers had gone up there and cut down a couple of trees.

“Oh my gosh,” Moonpie said. “They’re taking over”!

It sure looked like it, but we did not see a single beaver while we were there. Usually if I’m intruding on their territory, they will let us know by swimming back and forth in front of the tent all night long and slapping their tails.

The fishing on this trip was not great. I talked to a feller that had caught four shad, but he had been there trying a long time. I caught a speckle, four yellow perch, two small rockfish and two largemouth bass of which one weighed about 2 pounds.

We are in that kinda transition period right now between winter and spring. The fishing is usually pretty tough through this period, and then it just explodes and everything starts biting.

Really though, I spent most of my time picking up trash. All that rain we have been getting must have scoured the Franklin storm water ditches clean of trash ‘cause it was all in the river.

The trash was ‘bout as bad as I have seen in a long time. It was easy to tell that it came out of the city’s canal that feeds into the river.

I picked up two large bags full, but there were truckloads that had been deposited on shore by the high water. Good for the river; bad for the woods.

I saw very little trash upriver from this canal.

What stunned me about this haul was the large amount of household trash. Like the Styrofoam things that chicken comes in from the grocery store. Laundry detergent bottles and stuff like that, and also a bunch of lighters, blunt containers and syringes.

Where are these people doing their drugs? Must be somewhere close to a Franklin storm water ditch.

Of course there was the usual plethora of basketballs and footballs, etc., and even a child’s tricycle. How does that get into a storm water ditch?

After cleaning up all that nasty stuff. we were sitting there scrubbing ourselves with anti-bacterial wipes when Moonpie jumped up and said, “Look, a bald eagle.”

Sure enough, the majestic bird angled close over us and dipped its left wing at us. Moonpie and I looked at each other and smiled ‘cause we knew what that meant on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

JEFF TURNER is riverkeeper for the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper Program, an environmentally conscious organization that focuses on keeping local waterways healthy. BNRP’s parent organization is The Waterkeeper Alliance. Contact Turner at his website, www.blackwaternottoway.com.