Riverkeeper report: Spewing trash on the scenic Blackwater

Published 9:09 am Monday, February 27, 2017

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 17th through the 19th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was clear and 44 degrees, air temps ranged from 27 to 70 degrees. It was perfect weather.

The fishing on this trip was not so great for me … again. I caught only one rockfish that was 17 inches, a blackfish, a gar and a turtle. Don’t worry, turtle lovers; I caught it by the shell and it was released, after Moonpie gave it a checkup. No turtles were harmed in the making of this patrol!

Nobody was catching any shad. I did see some folks with a few speckle and one guy had caught a white perch, so pretty slim pickings out there this trip.

Trash on this trip was pretty bad. I’m still getting it out of the trees when I can. I removed the last 100 yards of the caution tape from the woods near the CSX train trestle. I had asked that someone, some volunteer, some citizen from the boating community go up on shore and get it for me, but no one did so I crawled my old crippled self up in the swamp and managed to retrieve it without getting hurt. I also found why there was so much of it. I had originally thought it was just a big ball of it left up there at the tracks from the train derailment last summer. However, I found that it was from a whole roll of tape that most likely came from the derailment. So that’s taken care of, thanks a lot.

I also once again saw where at the old Franklin city dump on Pretlow Street there is new trash getting into the river from up there on the hill. There are two dumpsters at this location up on the hill right beside the river. It would appear that the trash is originating from them. I just don’t understand why the dumpsters have to be positioned so close to the river?

But as you can see in the pictures, the trash is coming down the hill from where these two dumpsters are located. And let me state again, this is not old trash buried there years ago, this is new trash. Why are two trash dumpsters even at this location and why are they next to the river? I have alerted the city of this trash problem several times in the past. You can see in the accompanying pictures that the problem indeed has been going on for years.

Last week I took a young lady who is a recent grad of William and Mary on the river. She has her degree in environmental science and would like to be able to apply that education in a job helping our rivers since she grew up on them.

I showed her this trash coming from property of the City of Franklin. She was stunned that the city would display on its waterfront property this kind of disregard for a river that is designated as a Virginia Scenic River. All the people that go boating or fishing and ride by this place see this and I imagine wonder the same thing.

What a contrast, on one side of the river there is a beautiful eagle’s nest, and on the other side of the river, an unsightly dump, with trash rolling down the hill to the river.

Just another example of the beauty of Mother Nature ruined again by bad management of municipal waste 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.