Riverkeeper report: Nuclear bomb dropped near Route 189

Published 10:55 am Friday, May 22, 2015

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 13th through the 15th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was 73 degrees and kinda muddy looking. Air temps ranged from 48 to 75 degrees. Man, what a nice trip weather-wise!

Fishing on this outing was pretty good, but only upriver. On that end of the river I caught lots of nice bream, using a baby Snagless Sally, and about 15 bass. I caught most of the bass on a jointed Rapala. All were less than 2 pounds. Still it was a lot of fun catching those feisty little swamp bass.

Trash was about average on this trip, I picked up a bagful throughout the length of my sojourn.

I met some folks on this trip and need help contacting them. There were two boats in this group, neither boat had an outboard motor and they were fishing upriver from Franklin in the turf farm section. The five black guys (two in one boat, three in the other) were having a great time, but seemed confused as to where they were. Now look, the only reason I specifically said black guys was to aid the discovery of who these folks were, so don’t go there.

Anyway, I’d like to be able to help these guys and present them with a copy of our river atlas that has maps, etc., of the river. If you’re reading this and you’re one of these guys, or you know who these folks are, just give me a call at 562-5173 and I will fix them up.

One of the missions on this patrol was to see how the eagles were doing. It was amazing. When I launched that first morning and took off downriver, I had not gone 100 yards when a bald eagle took off from a tree 50 feet right over me and flew a hundred yards at that altitude right with me going down the river. It was so close I could see it turning its head looking at me like it was sayin’, “C’mon, slow poke. Follow me.” I have never had that happen like that before.

So, I checked out the first nest near the Pretlow farm and could see a white head peeking over the rim of that nest. That means all was well there. However, when I checked the Cherry Grove nest site later that day I was disappointed that I did not see any adult eagles around. I glassed the nest and could see nothing that way either. When I came back by the nest later, I sat there for about 30 minutes, but never saw anybody.

Moonpie said she did not think it looked like anybody was home. Sadly, I think I’m going to have to agree with her this time. If anybody has seen the couple there this year, please let me know. I thought the nest looked taken care of, but not seeing any adult birds all day is not a good sign.

Now, more disturbing news. Downriver from Route 189, on the east side of the river, a bomb has been dropped, or so it looks that way. Another huge tract of land has been logged and this time they left only the thinnest of a buffer. In some places there is nothing right to the river. So that part of the river is no longer “scenic” for sure. I have contacted D.O.F and we will see what they will say.

I also took a French filmmaker out there Saturday. He is doing a documentary for a TV station on the effects that the wood pellet industry is having on American forests. He had a drone with him that really showed the devastation.

Anyway, at this location in 10 places there are even treetops etc., in the river from the logging operation. Now you might think that’s good for fish habitat, and it could be. However, it could also float out with the next high water event and end up being a navigation hazard and cause a boating accident, something we do not need anymore of.

Speaking of that, I did travel to the Forks of the River the first day. That is the location of the recent tragic boating accident that took the lives of two of our local citizens. I said a prayer for the family while I was there. Moonpie and I just sat there for a while in silence, wondering how such a terrible thing could happen on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

JEFF TURNER is the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper. He can be reached at blknotkpr@earthlink.net.