February 19 through the 21st Blackwater Trip

24 Feb
February 24, 2008

Moonpie & I spent the 19th through the 21st on the Blackwater below Franklin.

The water was a little high, clear, fast and 51 degrees. Air temps ranged from 28 to 60 degrees. What little time I got to spend fishing was unproductive. I did try for yellow perch one more time but only caught a 3 inch long fish. One nice speckle was hung but it did not want to come into the boat and bailed on me upon lifting it out of the water. I did see one glorious sight on this trip. This past summer the eagle’s nest at Cherry Grove was destroyed by a storm. The 10-year-old nest I guess just was rotten in the bottom and one of those summer storms took it down. A few years ago it was nearly destroyed by hurricane Isabel also but they built onto what was left and re-occupied it. This time there was nothing left but I was overjoyed on the 19th to see that a new though much smaller nest was back in the pine tree. I also watched the huge mother for a while sitting on the eggs. Now on to the good and bad stuff I saw this trip. I was extremely happy to see that Franklin Public Works cleaned up the junk lot on the hill overlooking the river behind their office on Pretlow. It looked terrible from the river with junk vehicles rusting away on the bluff. I have had several comments made to me by people sight seeing on the river as to how bad that looked and how it reflected badly on the city. That bad image is now gone and it shows the city of Franklin does want to be a good steward of the Blackwater. It was truly a great sight. What was not a great sight on this trip was the amount of trash on the river. It was as bad as I have seen it in years. I picked up four big bags as well as a host of other junk. There was so much trash in the boat that I could not find poor little Moonpie amongst the piles of garbage. The city of Franklin has done a much-improved job in recent years especially with the stormwater ditches on the North end of town. The retention ponds and the efforts by city employees to keep those streets clean have made a difference. However the Southside stormwater ditches remain a problem. These are the ditches that run to the big ditch that goes under the road at the VDOT office on Pretlow St. Just to give an idea of some of the item’s I picked up. Four basketballs, 3 footballs, 3 tennis balls, several drug paraphernalia items, 180 plastic drink bottles, 60 beer cans, 42 Southern Food Styrofoam cups, 23 Styrofoam food containers, 3 tennis shoes, 1 condom, 23 plastic bags, 36 snack (potato chip) bags, 13 little Huggies drink containers, 16 40oz glass beer bottles, 3 one gallon juice containers and the list goes on and on. The bad thing is this is just the stuff I could reach so at least that much more sank or I missed. So we have to figure out where this trash is accumulating. Is it in the street drains or the ditches or both? Does the city clean those ditches on the Southside; does the street sweeper run on all those streets that have stormwater drains? I’m asking because I don’t know the answers to those questions. I just know that it is coming from those Southside ditches. I have been told that education is one way to stop people from littering. I have and do that, educating our youth is important to keep them from being litterbugs. However they are not the people who are littering now. The people that are causing this problem in the river, the people who are throwing this trash in the street and ditches could care less about polluting the river. So there is going to have to be a more concerted effort by the city to keep that garbage from getting into the river. It might be able to be done with regular ditch cleaning or stepped up street cleaning. I would think that would be the cheapest simplest way though I’m not saying it would be an easy or desirable job. If not by that method there are several means of mechanical methods like moving screen technology. However this is very expensive equipment. So I’m asking citywide help with this issue until a solution is found. I will be writing letters to all the City Council members and city officials for their help and input and I’m asking for you citizens to help. If you have ideas call the city manager and tell him. We need lots of ideas and I know the city will welcome all that input until the problem is addressed. Mind you now they have tried a grate before and that did nothing but clog up, so forget that one. But any other ideas you have please let’em fly. Between the city, you and the BNRP we should be able to come up with a plan that will make the two rivers we call the Blackwater and yes even the Nottoway much cleaner rivers in the future.
JT

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