Virginia >> After much anticipation, the Suffolk-Nansemond Chapter put canoes in the water and completed our first Adopt-a-Stream project on April 30, 2016. With a grant from the IWLA Endowment, the chapter was able to purchase six canoes as well as life jackets, paddles, and other equipment needed to outfit the canoes.
Through the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Adopt-a-Stream Program, the chapter adopted a section of the Nansemond River from the dam that creates Lake Meade to just below the Hilton Garden Inn Marina. Access to most of this section of the river is all but impossible by foot due to steep banks and a marshy shoreline. There are no public boat launches in this area, so access to the river here is limited to canoes or kayaks.
Much planning, coordination, and support went into making the Adopt-a-Stream event a success. Local residents Joseph Verdirame and Mike Forbes allowed the chapter to use their private piers to launch our canoes. (The city is in the process of building a public canoe and kayak launch adjacent to the marina for possible future use.) The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation supplied work gloves, trash bags, and safety vests. The City of Suffolk’s Department of Public Works supplied grabber tools and arranged for the final disposal of the debris we collected. The City of Suffolk Department of Parks and Recreation supported us by designating a trash collection point.
Twenty five chapter volunteers participated in the clean-up, collecting 28 bags of trash, 34 tires, 4 shopping carts, a flat screen TV, and other miscellaneous trash and debris. In total, approximately 3,000 pounds of material were removed from just over a half mile of the river. Members also mapped the locations of additional tires and other larger items that were not retrievable by canoe during this clean-up event.
The event was a big success, but we still have work to do. Looking out across the river, you might not notice the trash and debris in and around the river, but an up-close look from a canoe reveals a completely different picture. Several more clean-up events will be needed to cover our entire section of river. Now that the first clean-up is completed, it’s time to start planning for the next one.
As for the canoes, they are also being put to good use by several Boy Scout troops as well as other members of the chapter.