Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marrowbone Creek to Mitchel Bridge float on 9/4/10

On September 4 DRBA will celebrate Labor Day weekend with a float on the most popular section of the Smith River-Marrowbone Creek Access to Mitchell Bridge Access in Henry County, VA. Meeting at 10:00 a. m. at the Richard P. Gravely, Jr. Nature Preserve, 2525 Eggleston Falls Road in Ridgeway, Virginia (36.611067, -79.817712), the group will launch canoes and kayaks at the nearby access point.

The 3.5-mile "blueway" Smith River Trails section, rated Class 1, is suitable for novice paddlers. Trip coordinator is Wayne Kirkpatrick, DRBA President, aided by other DRBA members who frequent this section of the river.

For the first half mile of the trip, the river flows alongside the Gravely Nature Preserve's high bluffs where paddlers can glimpse the Rhododendron Trail. As the name implies, the path winds through a rhododendron thicket as it hugs the river's edge.

About a mile farther on, Leatherwood Creek enters from river left. Paddlers often enter the wide mouth of the creek and take a leisurely side trip up the shaded stream to observe woodland wildflowers and birds. Early American patriot Patrick Henry, for whom both Patrick and Henry counties are named, lived on a large plantation near the headwaters of Leatherwood Creek from 1779 - 1786.

Just below the mouth of Leatherwood Creek is a broad rounded boulder in the middle of the river. Known as "Lunch Rock," it makes "a perfect spot to stop for a break," according to "An Insider's Guide to the Smith River," available at www.danriver.org .

Henry County, in partnership with DRBA, has made the Smith River accessible to the public over the past three years by building public access points at eight new sites along the river, including the Marrowbone Creek Access, which opened in 2007, and Mitchell Bridge Access, built in 2009.

Participants are invited to linger after the outing to enjoy the Gravely Nature Preserve, part of the county's "greenway" Smith River Trail system, which was dedicated in April, 2008. Developed by DRBA and Henry County, with funding from The Harvest Foundation, the 75-acre preserve features two miles of interpretive trails. Historic features include early twentieth-century tobacco barns and the Burgess Family cemetery, reminders of former owners of the property.

Industrialist, civic leader, and archaeologist Richard P. Gravely, Jr. owned the property in the late twentieth century and left instructions for its preservation as a wildlife and nature conservancy. The preserve now hosts frequent educational and recreational events for all ages, including day camps, fitness walks, historic presentations, workshops, after-school programs, and geo-caching.

Participants in the outing are asked to bring boat and paddles, life jackets, lunch and water, to dress in layers of artificial (quick-drying) fabric and to sign a waiver.

Boats may be rented from Three Rivers Outfitters, 336-627-6215
Smith River Adventure Outfitters, 276-252-0701

Directions: To reach the Gravely Nature Preserve from US 220 south of Martinsville, turn east at a traffic light onto Old Sand Road. Cross the US 58 overpass and immediately turn left onto Eggleston Falls Road. Travel about two miles to the preserve, which is on the left, across from the foot of Old Mill Road.

More information:  Wayne Kirkpatrick, 276-694-4449 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              276-694-4449      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or wynbtyk@embarqmail.com

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Smith River Clean-up August 2010

The Smith River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (SRTU) teamed up with the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) on Saturday August 21 to make a difference on the Smith by cleaning up of a section of river from the Trent Hill bridge through the Horseshoe section and down to the Bassett Historic Center.

It was an incredible turn-out with over 40 people attending including 16 volunteers from Skyline Tree Service, several Boy Scouts from a local troop, Eric Capps of Gateway Streetscapes, and many DRBA and SRTU members.
Everyone met at the Bassett Canoes Access ramp at 8:30am to split up into teams before we hit the river.  Many folks brought waders and at least 4 canoes and 1 jon boat were put on the river to haul trash.  Some elected to stay dry and they became the road crews to pick up all that trash on the surrounding roads before it manged to make it down the storm drains and into the river.
It was just fantastic to see so many river users and community members coming together to help make preserve and protect our water quality.
I was somewhat surprised to see Skyline Tree Service crew show up but I shouldn't have been as they are always a big supporter of all the river clean-ups and they were out in force today.  
Together with a group of boy scouts, Ellen and Joe Jesse and Eric Capps, they had Lenoir street cleaned in no time flat.  Like a hungry pack of wolves they didn't stop there and just crossed the bridge and headed back up Fairystone Pkwy through town to the Trent Hill Dr at Pappas Pizza.  They were ready for more so we sent them over to Wells Hollow Rd and they really did a great job near Lauren Mountain Preserve.
DRBA president, Wayne Kirkpatrick and his wife Betty headed upstream from the access ramp and had a canoe full in less than an hour
We had 2 crews working on the roads and 3 crews in the river. 

 Its hard to believe that much trash came out of the river in only 1.5 miles
President of SRTU, Shane Pinkston and volunteer Joan Ragland stayed behind to man the base camp and start preparing for the cookout.  We were so busy no one had time to go to the store to get food but Patty Williams saved the day by picking up hotdogs, hamburgers, drinks and chips.  Shane was nominated cook for the day and quickly set about preparing food as the teams came in with their respective hauls of trash.
 We took my flatbed trailer around picking up the bagged trash and the debris from the canoes.  
 Once we had it all back at the access ramp in one big pile, we set about gathering canoes and crews.  Everyone was just about beat but still had enough energy to slam down some tasty burgers and dogs.
 We were ecstatic with the turn out and thrilled to be able to clean up over a mile and a half  of river from the Bassett canoe access all the way down to the Bassett Historic Center. 

 Its not only important to get this trash out of the river to improve the health of the stream and wildlife habitat but also for cleaner water for the community. The ascetics of the river are greatly improved byt removal of all the trash and that translates into dollars for our economy in the form of economic development.  We want people to come to our community, get out there and fish, paddle and enjoy the river and we want to them to leave having seen the best of the Smith, clean and green !   
This is the best advertising of all for our area and keeping it clean is the name of the game.
Specia thanks to Darrin Doss and Al Kitterage and a the SRTU members.
Next weekend is the third annual Smith River fest and there will be paddlers from all over, even as far away as Richmond and they will be utilizing the river mainly in this area.  Having folks come to our area, maybe for the first time and experience the beauty of our area and a clean river, means they have a great experience and go back and spread the word about the incredible natural resource we have to offer here in Henry County.