Earth Day Cleanup with the Rotary

DJT_7824We teamed up with the local Rotary clubs to do a county-wide cleanup for Earth Day. There were only 5 of us: Nicole Triplett (the Riverkeeper), Dale Weston (our President), Chris Luffman (board member), James Simpson (board member), and myself.

We expected rain, but it was quite pleasant the entire time we were out. We got slowed down by many, many bits of polystyrene (Styro-Foam) that were collecting along the shores. They take a lot of time to pick out of the water. We hauled out 2 plastic patio chairs, a bucket, a bowling ball, and 7 large bags of miscellaneous trash. All total, it was about 100 pounds of trash, which is a pretty good haul when a good deal of it is bits of polystyrene.

I want to say thanks to the Rotary for providing us with lunch. I was really hungry by the time we finished.

As a followup, our Riverkeeper is going to check on the source of the Styro-Foam peanuts that were scattered widely over a section of the creek.

by Douglas Toltzman, Secretary/Treasurer and Web Admin

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Sturgeon City Earth Day Event

DJT_7765Today was the Earth Day event at Sturgeon City. I think they had it today, because it’s Earth Day, but that could just be a coincidence. If it happens again next year, it may be a pattern.

In any case, the White Oak-New Riverkeeper (that’s us) set up a station there, so we got to interact with “millions” of school children. Nicole, the actual Riverkeeper, set up a fun little game where children would fish trash out of an imaginary body of water and Nicole would discuss the importance of removing trash from the environment and recycling the recyclable items.

_DJ24742There were lots of other stations there. Some of them were the work of the Sturgeon City crew, but there were other organizations there, including the NC Extension Office, Home Depot(?),  Possumwood Acres with the friendliest possum I’ve ever met, and some others. It looked like the kids were having fun and learning lots of neat stuff. They got to build a terrarium at one station, and Dianna Rashash from the extension office was teaching kids about different kinds of soil.

DJT_7800From what I could tell, the entire crowd was having a great time, running from station to station, learning new things, and getting their “passports” stamped. Our Riverkeeper got to introduce herself to lots of people and give a little overview of what we do.


DJT_7775It wasn’t all fun and games, we did get rained on a couple of times and we came within a few kilometers of getting struck by lightning. However, I think it was a great success, and I’d like to thank Chris Luffman for his assistance. Nicole couldn’t have done it without Chris’s help. Dale Weston was there, but he was mostly drinking coffee, and I was running around taking photos. You don’t think these photos just take themselves, do you?

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STEM Program coming to the Hoffman Forest

Wildlife Camera, provided by Fred Cubbage
Wildlife Camera, provided by Fred Cubbage.

Wednesday morning I met with a wonderful group of people with diverse backgrounds for planning a collaborative effort to bring our local communities together in a citizen science project focused on the Hoffman Forest public areas of the White Oak River. Jessica Hult of the White Oak Region Izaak Walton League and her son, homeschooler and Boy Scout, Luke, Kris Fowler of North Carolina State University, Fred Cubbage of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University, and our new board member Dr. Pat Curley, Director of The Science House at the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST), North Carolina State University, and myself all met to combine our efforts in developing a plan for wildlife camera traps to monitor for species in the Hoffman Forest and determine water sampling plans for our local homeschooled children and Boy Scouts.

The goal of our citizen science project is to create STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) opportunities to groups that would otherwise have limited access to these types of educational programs, and connect our local citizens with their natural systems that provide so much.

The Hoffman Forest houses the headwaters for the Trent, White Oak, and New Rivers and serves as a natural filtration system, pulling pollutants out of storm water before it enters the rivers. Given the burdens the White Oak River already faces with overloading of storm water creating abundant bacteria loads to the point of shellfishing closures, it is of utmost importance to understand the key functions of our natural systems and their interdependence. That public education is where I come in.

Nicole L. Triplett, White Oak-New Riverkeeper

 

Wildlife camera placement courtesy Fred, Jessica, and Luke.
Wildlife camera placement, courtesy Fred, Jessica, and Luke.
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Chaney Creek Cleanup: A Qualified Success

DJT_7683We got seven volunteers out on Chaney Creek in Jacksonville, NC, today to collect trash in and along the creek. The weather was cloudy and cool, but the conditions were actually pretty good for a trash pickup. We picked up a lot of trash, much of it plastic.

We launched from The Marina Cafe, and they helped us to properly dispose of the trash we collected. I call the cleanup a qualified success because we gathered a lot of trash and got it out of the environment, but we couldn’t possible collect all of the trash that we saw, and we didn’t get as far up the creek as I had hoped. I also destroyed a pair of pants, wading through the muck.

DJT_7691We did see one, small alligator, warming himself on the bank, which is always fun. There is just something about prehistoric predators that makes me want to stop and stare. When I was a child, I had a fascination with dinosaurs.

Thanks to everyone who helped us, today, and to The Marina Cafe. If you’d like to join us on future cleanups, you can find us on Meetup.com, where we post all of our volunteer opportunities. We generally have a good time, and we’re planning a big party for out volunteers; you don’t want to miss out!

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The Best Part of my Day

DJT_7422The best part of any day is the time I get to spend on the water. However, today was special.

First, Nicole and I paddled almost 4 miles up Peddiford Creek and back, for a total distance of 7.7 miles. The last time I was up Peddiford Creek was with Elmer Eddy and Brian Wheat in January, 2008. I took a canoe that time, expecting a sheltered creek paddle, and ended up paddling against a stiff wind for 2 or 3 miles on our return trip.

Today, I took a kayak, the weather was pleasant and the trip was mostly uneventful. We nearly got scorched by a forest fire and we had to make some stops to pick up trash, but otherwise, it was a leisurely paddle.

My return to the office wasn’t as pleasant, but that’s a whole other matter. Thanks to Nicole for a fun paddle and great conversation.

Trip report: Put-in at 11:00 and take out at 15:30 from boat launch on Pettiford Rd.

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Our Recent Fundraiser

DJT_7390On March 5, 2016 we held a fundraising event at The Marina Cafe in Jacksonville, with food served by A Shuckin’ Good Time. James Archer played live music, while our volunteers served up hot food.

An event like this is a group effort. I want to personally thank everyone who helped us pull this off. Of course, no fundraiser can be a success without patrons, and we’ve got some of the best patrons, ever. I can’t thank you all enough for your support.

We also had a silent auction and many people donated items for us to auction off. I’d also like to thank those people for their generosity in helping us raise some additional funds.

People who donated items for the silent auction:

DJT_7400We also received gift certificates, gift baskets, and other things from the following vendors:

Given how many things can go wrong at any event, I must say things went very smoothly. The professionals at A Shuckin’ Good Time had a lot to do with that. Also, I can’t thank The Marina Cafe enough for providing us with a venue that is right on the water. They’ve always been a great supporter of the Riverkeeper.

In addition to live music and a silent auction, Nicole (our Riverkeeper), gave a short presentation, while our guests shucked oysters and enjoyed some tasty shrimp and chicken tenders. As stewards of the river, we strive to educate anyone who will listen on the issues that confront us everyday and what everyone can do to help make our rivers cleaner and safer.

On a side note, I negotiated furiously with one of our charter members over a position on our board. If all goes well, we’ll soon have a new board member who has been a longstanding supporter. I sent her an application and I’m looking forward to her response.

I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. I have personally invested in the Riverkeeper Alliance because it means a lot to me. Without your financial support, and the help of an army of volunteers, there would be very little we could do. You guys make it all possible, and you have my eternal gratitude.

Doug Toltzman

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It’s that time of year again! Operation Medicine Drop is coming to town.

Operation_Medicine_Drop_Logo (2)

On Saturday, March 19th from 10 am to 2 pm WONRA volunteers will be partnering with our local police department and others to collect prescription and non-prescriptions medications (veterinarian prescribed medications included). Bring your expired or leftover medications to participating locations to dispose of them freely and anonymously and sleep sound knowing that you had a hand in keeping pharmaceuticals off the streets and out of the waterways. For more water quality information on pharmaceuticals check out our Issues page.

Would you like to volunteer to sit with your local officers and help out the community? You can RSVP here: Volunteer for Operation Medicine Drop

Check back regularly before the date for updates on participating locations or visit the site directly here: NCDOI’s Calendar of Operation Medicine Drop Events in NC

Walgreens Hwy 258 Jacksonville, NC

 

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Patrolling the New River

DJT_7329We set out on a multipurpose trip on the New River on a Tuesday afternoon, February 16. We took the motorboat to investigate a report of a hose, discharging waste into the river. We also needed to take a motorboat trip to stay in practice and test the equipment, as they say. Finally, I needed some new video of the New River and our new Riverkeeper, because I didn’t have much video from the New River and I could not locate much of what I did have.

_DJ24294We did find a tributary, discharging sediment loaded water into the river. That will require further investigation. Anyone for a 4 or 5 mile paddle (round trip) up the New River? The forecast is for mild weather the next week or so. There is some trash to pick up along the way, and there will be opportunities to get wet and muddy!

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