Riverkeeper report: Mother Earth is sick

Published 10:51 am Friday, February 26, 2016

Trash carried along the Franklin stormwater canal that connects to the Blackwater River. -- SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Trash carried along the Franklin stormwater canal that connects to the Blackwater River. — SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 19th through the 21st on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was high and fast at 2.20 on the Franklin 258 river gauge. Water temp was 39 degrees and air temps ranged from 38 to 68 degrees.

The fishing on this trip was not good. I only caught one 5 lb. blue cat, two speckle and a raccoon perch, all jigging with a blade bait. On the other hand, I caught plenty of trash. It has been years since I have seen that much trash on the river coming from the City of Franklin stormwater ditches. I picked up three bags and that did not touch it. I could spend every day for the next month out there and not get all that trash. There are some places out there on the shore where the trash is in piles where the river does a whip-back. Thank you, Dean Wagonback for hauling those bags and Styrofoam blocks away and helping me with the boat the third day.

It appears to me the trash issue and indeed other environmental issues just keep getting worse instead of better. More trash from the Franklin ditches, the old Franklin dump is eroding junk and leaching heavy metals, pcb’s, lead, mercury and no telling what else into the river. Murphy Brown Farms just cajoled Virginia DEQ into letting them now send their stormwater to the swamps and river. Sussex County is spewing toxic soup into the Nottoway from its nightmare landfill, so yea, things are going backwards. That’s very bad for us; a sick environment equals sicker people, wait and see!

One glimmer of light I have to report is from a young fellow named Lawson Wallace. A member of Boy Scout Troop 837, the Eagle Scout and other scouts recently did some logjam clearing on the Nottoway around the Homeville area. Their efforts will make it easier for people to enjoy that part of the river.

Another nice sight amidst the evil dark polluter regime was the fact I saw the mommy (or daddy) bald eagle in the Pretlow nest downriver from Franklin. I am glad that couple has returned again this year to raise another generation of our national bird and emblem. They have come so far in the years since pollution and pesticides nearly eradicated them here. I only hope we are not heading down the same path again that once nearly wiped the eagles out.

Will mankind end up on the endangered species list? We have turned mother earth into a junkie, injecting poisons into her air, water and soil. And just like the junkie, if we do not get her into rehab and cleaned up, eventually she will overdose and die.

And then so shall we.

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