Greetings respected colleagues: I have started a blog to explore various stormwater and watershed topics. Thanks for reading, and let me know your thoughts and if you have ideas or topics that you’d like to explore together.
This is a story that includes several threads. One, appropriately, is a fabric known as Rayon. That thread is interwoven with two others: the chemical mercury and the South River Watershed in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. It is indeed a complex weave of science, history, changing economic forces, and an exceptional river.
Aliyah was crouched down in the prairie pothole at the Des Lacs Refuge. The pothole seemed to have been drained somehow, with sedges and grasses emerging from the muddy soil. She apparently was too late. The tan, leather gardening glove with the crimson “W” was poking fingers-up out the muddy ground. She sat on the wet ground for a long minute thinking about her options.
Links to Past Episodes: EPISODE 1, EPISODE 2, EPISODE 3, EPISODE 4 12 Aliyah had driven through North Dakota once on a cross-country trip with some college friends. They were headed to Olympic National Park in Washington State and were zipping through the Great Plains to get to their destination. It was nighttime during most
Wander Weed. The name rattled around in Aliyah’s mind with a vague sense of familiarity, but Aliyah could not place it.
After talking with Benjamin Benzoin about the invasive plant incident at Smoky Mountain National Park, Aliyah promptly sought out the contacts that Benjamin had referred her to, Pamela Pitcheri from Saugatuck Dunes and Pellia Endivy from Buffalo River. The three cases had obvious similarities, with the most striking evidence being the tan, leather gardening glove with the crimson “W” left as a calling card. A pattern was no doubt established, but the question was where would this deranged person strike next?
Click here to go to EPISODE 1
The naturalist from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Pamela Pitcheri, returned an unusual call from a Park Ranger at Great Smoky Mountain National Park after the Fourth of July holiday. Benjamin Benzoin was inquiring about the disturbance of vegetation on the dunes and asked if she had found anything out of the ordinary in the location.
The Perplexing Case of the Tan Gardening Glove: Episode 1
The trouble started one mid-June day near Rockport, Maine along Penobscot Bay. Maria Solidago had returned from three weeks in Virginia visiting her five grandchildren. The trip had been exhilarating and exhausting, and Maria was looking forward to escaping Virginia’s heat and humidity and returning to Maine’s cooler climes. She especially missed her native plant friends with whom she had developed such a fond relationship over the last few years.
Another Dam Done Gone
The crowd of close to 3,500 gathered on the riverbank of the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, VA on February 23, 2004. They had come to see the explosion. The atmosphere was celebratory, even jubilant, with dignitaries and media buzzing around. The crowd had come to see the Embrey Dam be blown up by an Army Engineering team from Fort Eustis, ultimately opening up 700 miles of river and tributary waters to migratory fish and creating a unique river paddling experience. John Warner, a U.S. Senator from Virginia at the time, donning his floppy brimmed fishing hat, pushed the symbolic demolition plunger, and the crowd held its collective breath.
Recently, I had the occasion to put a canoe in the water, which of course involved getting the canoe on and off of the car. When it came to lashing the boat to the car, my companions for the day just stood back and watched. They observed the placement of the canoe on the racks, the positioning of the ropes, and finally the slip knots that sealed the deal. One actually muttered softly, “oh, that’s how you do it,” as if I were performing a magic trick.
I assure you, there was no sleight of hand involved. Far from it – it was the direct product of the best lecture I heard in college, delivered by the renowned lake researcher, Dr. Daniel Livingstone.
The Dam Keeper’s Dilemma
On the September 17, 2018, the remnants of Hurricane Florence had moved inland from the North Carolina coast and up into the Shenandoah Valley. As he did during all major storm events, Michael was in his Soil and Water District truck patrolling the water levels at several flood control dams. At the Tom’s Branch dam, Michael realized that things were a bit different with this storm. The water level had already topped the 40 foot gauge and water was flowing through the emergency spillway. Plus, the access road below was underwater, so Michael couldn’t drive out. He spent the night there, in constant contact with County emergency services crews and his District co-workers in case mandatory evacuations had to be enacted.