Riverkeeper report: Blackwater blasted with trash

Published 12:39 pm Saturday, September 9, 2017

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 3rd through the 5th on the Blackwater below Franklin. Air temps ranged from 59 to 86 degrees and the water was 71 degrees. The water was a little high and running like a ditch, but very clear. In other words it was in very good shape far as that goes, and I thought I was going to mop up on the fish. WRONG!

On his most recent trip, the Riverkeeper photographed this turtle sunning itself. Almost looks as if it’s posing, doesn’t it?

Fishing was terrible for me. I finally caught enough bream for cat bait at night, and really the second day as I worked my way downriver the bream fishing did pick up. But that was the only species that did. I only caught a 7-pound blue cat the first night and a measly 2-pound channel the second night.  Oh, well, it was fantastic-looking out there with a bright 98 percent moon beaming down on us with the Barred Owls screaming in delight of the moon.

I tried casting for bass a couple hours total, had nary a hit on topwater and I was too hard-headed to try something else.

Moonpie Critter Patrol only yielded a bunch of Blue Herons, a couple of Great Egrets or white phase Herons; I couldn’t tell. Egrets are a type of Heron anyway. Also saw some Kingfishers, a hummingbird  — which I have seen more of on the river this year than ever before — and a bunch of turtles and a squirrel or two. I think that’s it, the birds and turtles I used for practice shooting … on my new camera. Getting little mo’ better with that.

The Riverkeeper spotted these two Great Blue Herons; one taking off and the other in the tree in the upper right corner.

It was a good trip, and would have been better but I had to spend most of it picking up trash. It has been a long time since I collected three giant trash bags full on the river. I also could not believe how far downriver it was strewn. Usually I run out of it after two or three miles below Franklin, but not this time. I also collected three more large Styrofoam blocks that got into the river from Tractor Supply in Franklin.

That brings the total to 26 since the 2015 incident when I was told by their then VP of Operations for the area, Andy Willet, that “a few” had blown off the property during a storm. I keep hoping it’s the last of them, but a FEW more keep on getting to the river somehow.

Anyway, the biggest part of the trash once again came out of the Franklin storm water canal. I have proposed to the city a plan of how to cut down on much of the trash that gets into the river from the city. I made the proposal months ago, but there seems not to be much interest in the plan.

The plan calls for installing a trash boom in the Bogart Street retention pond, which would skim trash entering that pond on the outlet side. The boom would not restrict flow coming out of the pond. The Riverkeeper Program is even offering to pay for the boom.

Of course with anything like this there are drawbacks. The city would then have the extra burden of periodically removing the collected trash. My design idea, though, is based on a model that would hopefully force the trash to the shore so the city would not have to use a boat to accomplish this. The other problem is, this part of the Franklin storm water system is not where the majority of the trash comes from. The majority of the trash comes from the Southside ditches, but there is not any good place to deploy such a device on that part of the system. STILL, it would catch plenty of trash believe me.

Maybe one day before I am gone this idea will become reality. That would be very nice and then people from here and distant shores would say those are really clean waterways that Jeff Turner says are the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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