Riverkeeper report: Aliens from Planet Styro invade Blackwater

Published 11:02 am Friday, October 30, 2015

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 19th through the 21st on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was really low from the wind blowing it out and was 59 degrees. Air temps ranged from 38 to 75, perfect camping weather to me.

Styrofoam has been found floating in the Blackwater River, but the source is still unknown. -- SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Styrofoam has been found floating in the Blackwater River, but the source is still unknown. — SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Trash was pretty bad this trip. There was a LOT up in the City of Franklin canal that I cleaned up. And then there are these durn Styrofoam blocks. They might as well be from outer space because I cannot figure out where they are coming from. It’s crazy the amount of this stuff I am finding in the river. If I could just tell if that stuff is coming from the ditch that runs through town up Armory, or the ditch that runs under Pretlow and up through the South side of town would be a great help. I need someone in a canoe or kayak to go up both forks from the river and see if they can find any of these blocks. A location was found on Broad Street that might be where some of this stuff is coming from, but I’m not sure the big blocks came from there. Regardless, Nancy Reid did a great job finding this illegal dumpsite and getting it cleaned up.

Catfishing on this trip was … phenomenal. I caught so many catfish I had to take a boatload to Franklin to try to get rid of them. Luckily, there was one guy fishing from the boardwalk that agreed to take them. I gave him all but the 19-pounder I had, and that was just because the monster cat would not fit in his bucket. All in all I guess I caught about 15 cats, with the biggest going 22 pounds. I ended up catching 5 small largemouth also, and in fact they are what I caught the cats on. I cut up their carcasses after filleting them and used that for bait. Worked great! All these fish were caught on the second day.

On the first day I was occupied most of the day with a film crew from Vermont that wanted to get out on the river and film some of the clear cutting that has occurred.They were amazed at the beauty of the Blackwater as I was taking them to the cutover location and then when we came up on the deforested part of the river they freaked out.

They asked me how was this possible that the loggers could log right to the water’s edge. I told them the Virginia Department of Forestry allows them to do that.

They just could not believe it. “Yea,” I replied, “I’m sure all the critters that lost their homes could not believe it either.”

Unfortunately, it looks like we will be seeing a lot more of that 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.