Trashy trip

Published 7:10 pm Thursday, January 6, 2022

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Spirit of Moonpie and I spent December the 27th through the 29th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was filthy, low and covered in tree debris, beaver sticks, trash and logs. Water temperature was 47 degrees, and air temps ranged from 48 to 64. Mighty nice for the end of December. 

I did very little fishing on this trip. I tried the stripers, yellow perch, speckle and blackfish but didn’t have nary a hit. Most of my time was spent picking up trash. Whispering Bear came out on day two for a mistletoe/holly berry scavenger hunt. That excursion was actually a very fun endeavor that yielded a bountiful amount of holiday greenery.

I have no idea where all the trash came from nor all the wood in the river. It’s like someone busted up a logjam or beaver dam somewhere. I was told there was a crew working in the ditch at the old Virginia Department of Transportation place on Pretlow — maybe they busted up a blockage there or something? In any event, there was a lot of trash to be picked up for no more rain than we have had.

The Route 189 bridge project is moving right along. They have one of the massive concrete supports in place that will take the bridge across the river. I still can’t believe they are going to leave that bumper system in place. Removing all that would certainly make the river flow a lot better through there during flood events. I made recommendations to remove that flow impediment at the many flood meetings I attended following the flood in 1999. I guess in the 22 years since the flood, those recommendations I and others proposed have been forgotten. Funny how time makes people lose the sense of urgency to correct known problems that add to catastrophic events. Don’t want to spend that money. It’ll get discussed again… next time Kingsdale goes underwater… and then, after a few years, it’ll get forgotten again most likely.

Anyway, we ventured downriver to the Cherry Grove eagle nesting site to see who was home. We saw two eagles in the area, so I’m guessing they are going to be the occupants of the nest this year. I really could not tell if the nest has been worked on or not yet. That is not the easiest nest in the world to see. The eagles that built that nest 30 years ago put it there for that purpose, it would seem!

It’s time for my posting of my yearly totals. So here we go. I did 19 trips in 2021 for a total of 58 days and nights. Since 1988 I have spent a total of 5.5 years on the rivers during camping trips. That figure does not reflect single-day trips. I picked up 221 pounds of trash this year, 40 pounds from the Nottoway, 181 out of the Blackwater. That is a total of 101,609 pounds or 50 tons since the year 2000. Biggest accomplishment this year was seeing International Paper install measures to reduce the amount of sawdust that goes into the Blackwater.

I am blessed to be able to still look after these two rivers, and I thank the public for all the support. I look forward to another year of serving and protecting these two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway. 

JEFF TURNER is the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard. To contact him about river issues, send him an email at He can also be followed on the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard Facebook page. Just type in “Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard” in the search field on Facebook.