January 30 Blackwater Patrol

03 Feb
February 3, 2016

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 30th through the first on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was high (1.50 on Franklin USGS gauge), fast and 37 degrees.  Air temps ranged from 32 to 70 degrees.

The fishing on this trip was just so so. I caught a few yellow perch, most were small, a small speckle, a small catfish and a large chain pickerel. All caught jigging a blade bait. No stripers this trip, nor strippers.  I looked for the Pretlow Farm eagle as I traveled around those three days. Its time for them to lay their eggs so I was really hoping to see them. I never did which worries me some. Maybe she was just hunkered down in the nest!

Trash was pretty bad on this trip, more high water always flushes that stuff out of the swamps and from the log jams and ditches upriver. I also picked up two more styro blocks. This makes a total of 23 of the large blocks I have recovered from the river. Those blocks originated from the Tractor Supply in Franklin. Yep, it’s a long way through the ditch system to get to the river from there, but that’s where they came from. Their upper management has assured me that the blocks are no longer in use at the store to support trailer tongues. I hope so, I’m tired of getting these things out of the river. Now on to the dump. The old Franklin City dump, located on Pretlow road south of Franklin City Public Works is really a mess. Stuff is eroding out the side of the hill and getting into the river. I’m sure there is all kinds of bad toxic crap leeching into the river from that pile of garbage that was put there years ago. I remember as a child riding by there and the place was perpetually kept on fire by the attendant. Heck I was told even the police force used the location for target practice on the rats there.  Well that was then when it was not known how bad a dump in a swamp beside a river would be. Of course we know better know, but its too late. I believe that location is considered a EPA Superfund site. Though I would be surprised if anything was ever done about it. In the meantime garbage continues to fall into the river from this location. Also, new trash and construction materials are finding their way over the side of the hill. PVC pipe, black sewer line pipe, tires, wire, fencing and just a pile of things that the City of Franklin should clean up. Not only is it an eyesore to people boating, canoeing and fishing on the river, it just looks bad that the city does not take care of its own back yard behind the Public Works facility that sits right on the river. I have asked City Manager Mr. Randy Martin to take a look at the problem. Maybe I should take him on the boat so he could see it better, so Mr. Martin if you read this there is the offer.  The pictures submitted do not do show the magnitude of the problem very well. In the next few weeks I will get better pictures by boat and by drone that will show just how bad it looks back there. Hopefully, I will not have to do all of that and it will be cleaned up by then. The fact is the Blackwater is a Virginia Scenic River, a designation the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program worked hard to attain. The City of Franklin should be proud it sits beside a Va. Scenic River and utilize that fact to draw people to the Franklin area to enjoy this environmental gift.  City of Franklin, clean up your back yard so when folks to come to enjoy the great outdoors here they do not have to see a municipal garbage wasteland on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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