2009 Honor Roll: Jeffrey Kelble (Virginia)
Jeffrey Kelble was a river guide, primarily for small-mouth bass, on the Shenandoah River for eight years. He was driven out of business by fish kills in 2002, 2004, and 2005. That’s when he stepped in to restore the health of the river as Shenandoah Riverkeeper.
His methods are to observe the Shenandoah River and its watershed for sources of contamination. The problems he finds include discharges from processing plants, erosion from construction sites, and direct deposit of manure from cattle and poultry.
In 2006, Kelble and the Waterkeepers Alliance sued two large corporations for excess discharge of phosphorus and nitrogen into the Shenandoah River and sued a waste water treatment plant. He won both suits. Kelble received legal counsel from the University of Virginia’s Environmental Law and Conservation Clinic. Keble also won the right to review construction site permit applications before they are approved, and the Southern Environmental Law Center has assisted him with reviewing these permits. These are just a few of the court actions Kelble has taken to protect the river.
“Perhaps being a fishing guide has given Jeff an unusually informed perspective about ‘his’ river. Perhaps it has just helped him to care more about its condition. But it is clear that Jeff knows and loves the Shenandoah River and is willing to work very hard to protect and restore it,” says Rick Parrish of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Jeff’s persistence will not allow the public – or state officials for that matter – to forget that the Shenandoah is hurting from a variety of causes and that recovery will take continuing time and effort, starting with research into possible causes.”
The past decade has seen rapid growth and development in the Shenandoah Valley. “In spite of this,” says Norman Lesham, a Virginia member of the Izaak Walton League’s national Board of Directors, “Jeff Kelble’s persistent work has allowed the Shenandoah River to once again be an outstanding habitat for small mouth bass and other fish. After five years of hard work, the sport fishermen are back. Jeff’s wise stewardship of the water gives man a chance to share in its bounties.”
Photo: Jeffrey Kelble (center) accepted his award from IWLA national president Jim Madsen (left) and IWLA national director Norman Leshan from Virginia.