Riverkeeper Jeff Turner picked up a boatload of trash during his recent journey. SUBMITTED/JEFF TURNER
Riverkeeper Jeff Turner picked up a boatload of trash during his recent journey. SUBMITTED/JEFF TURNER

Archived Story

Riverkeeper catches boatload of trash

Published 10:17am Monday, March 4, 2013



Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 28th through the 2nd on the Blackwater below Franklin.

The water was high at 1.30 feet on the Franklin U.S. Geological Survey gauge, 44 degrees and just a little stained. Air temps ranged from 35 to 52 degrees.

I was sooo glad to finally get back on the river. It had been like eight weeks since I last patrolled.

The place I stay below Franklin I call the Beaver Hole. Years ago there was an abandoned beaver lodge there, not the big ones like you see on TV, but the typical river type where they use a washed-out place under the roots of a tree along the bank and then just add to it.

Lazy beaver lodging is what I call it. Anyway, I named it the Beaver Hole.

Well, it has been so long since I have been there; the beavers had gone up there and cut down a couple of trees.

“Oh my gosh,” Moonpie said. “They’re taking over”!

It sure looked like it, but we did not see a single beaver while we were there. Usually if I’m intruding on their territory, they will let us know by swimming back and forth in front of the tent all night long and slapping their tails.

The fishing on this trip was not great. I talked to a feller that had caught four shad, but he had been there trying a long time. I caught a speckle, four yellow perch, two small rockfish and two largemouth bass of which one weighed about 2 pounds.

We are in that kinda transition period right now between winter and spring. The fishing is usually pretty tough through this period, and then it just explodes and everything starts biting.

Really though, I spent most of my time picking up trash. All that rain we have been getting must have scoured the Franklin storm water ditches clean of trash ‘cause it was all in the river.

The trash was ‘bout as bad as I have seen in a long time. It was easy to tell that it came out of the city’s canal that feeds into the river.

I picked up two large bags full, but there were truckloads that had been deposited on shore by the high water. Good for the river; bad for the woods.

I saw very little trash upriver from this canal.

What stunned me about this haul was the large amount of household trash. Like the Styrofoam things that chicken comes in from the grocery store. Laundry detergent bottles and stuff like that, and also a bunch of lighters, blunt containers and syringes.

Where are these people doing their drugs? Must be somewhere close to a Franklin storm water ditch.

Of course there was the usual plethora of basketballs and footballs, etc., and even a child’s tricycle. How does that get into a storm water ditch?

After cleaning up all that nasty stuff. we were sitting there scrubbing ourselves with anti-bacterial wipes when Moonpie jumped up and said, “Look, a bald eagle.”

Sure enough, the majestic bird angled close over us and dipped its left wing at us. Moonpie and I looked at each other and smiled ‘cause we knew what that meant on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

JEFF TURNER is riverkeeper for the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper Program, an environmentally conscious organization that focuses on keeping local waterways healthy. BNRP’s parent organization is The Waterkeeper Alliance. Contact Turner at his website,


  • Jeff Turner

    We found the bowling ball in the mud on the shore of one of the retention ponds.

    Suggest Removal

  • Jeff Turner

    If i kept all the basketballs I have collected over the years I could give one to every family in town..well maybe not that many. I bet I have collected 56 or 60 basketballs though, maybe 25 footballs, 30 tennis balls, 10 baseballs and one bowling ball.

    Suggest Removal

    • curious

      What jig did you use to catch the bowling ball?…LOL..The other balls will float at least for awhile, but the bowling ball has me confused.

      Suggest Removal

    • SandMan

      I’ve heard of shooting “airballs”, but if someone misses the rim so much the ball goes in the river… may be time to take up another sport.

      Suggest Removal

  • ChubRobin

    Jeff – when can I get my basketball back? Ha! Hey, just want to say thank-you for all that you do for us who enjoy these waters in the area. I know the city stormwater outfall has to be a huge headache for the Blackwater. What have you heard on the opening of the Shady Brook Trail ramp? That’s my “stomping ground” so I’m getting anxious as to when we can use it. Can’t call it HERCULES anymore as there is no more HERCULES, and Ashland Ramp just doesn’t cut it. Hey, see you on the river soon!

    Suggest Removal

  • RACN35

    I BEEN TWICE THIS YEAR BUDDY …. same ole thing aye … too too windy today or I woulda been again …

    Suggest Removal

  • JDHowell

    Good to see you back on the river, Jeff.

    Suggest Removal

  • hawkgirl

    Nice to read your report on the rivers, our weather has not been very good for cruising the rivers…..lots of cold rainy windy days since Jan 1! Sorry you encounter so much trash and wish there was someway to control the trash around the retention ponds or maybe the city would send cleanup crews out more often! Look forward to your next report and hopefully fishing will be better and a nice reward for your efforts to keep the rivers clean : )”

    Suggest Removal

Editor's Picks