Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thought for the day

I have an idea. I believe the river from the WVU Arboretum to the Morgantown Lock and Dam should be designated a "no-wake" water recreational area.

Reasoning: This past weekend there were paddle boats out all over the place. Also, one day last week I saw three swimmers out in the channel. Boats that come flying around the bend below the Westover Bridge may not be able to see these other boats and swimmers, and I can see an accident in the making.

Also, I'm really encouraged to see all this activity, and I think the City of Morgantown would be well advised to create such a recreational zone, not only to save lives and avoid accidents, but also to designate the river as - to use Joe Manchin's term: Open for Business. Or rather Open for Recreation. And with a no-wake area, the recreation would be swimming and paddle boat friendly from the very beginning.

That's my thought for the day.

And here are some photos from last Saturday: Top- Swimmers near the Morgantown marina. These people would be hard to see, especially with the sun in the eyes and going flat out, the way some boats do.

Middle-Maureen holds the lock like as we return downriver with our catch. Second Middle
We got six tires. We're trying to find a way to haul them without putting them up on the deck, which can be a physically demanding endeavor, especially for old people. Bottom-By now, we've nearly removed all the litter from the west bank of the river above the Morgantown Lock and Dam. This is the pile at Walnut Street where Mr. Jim Luzater of the Mon. County Solid Waste Authority and his crew will pick up the next day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

If the River Catches on Fire

I'll be ready if the river catches on fire. Found this fire extinguisher among the litter above the Morgantown Lock and Dam last Saturday.

You may think I'm just being funny, but some of you may remember hearing stories of how bad pollution was on our nation's rivers. I always heard this story about the Illinois River, which, by the way, is a place I'll always regard as one of the coldest on earth. When I worked on tow boats up there in the winter I was afraid of freezing to the steel decks, waiting for our boat's turn through one of the locks.

I heard that there was so much oil and other petroleum discharges on that river that the deckhands were warned not to throw a match overboard. UPDATE: My friend Mike Breiding, who is now a member of MORFS (see below) just sent me this information about the Cuyahoga River Fire of 1969. See what I mean?

Well, that's an old river tale now, and I don't think I'll need that extinguisher. Since the Clean Water Act of 1972, we can celebrate the recovery of our rivers. The Mon, for example is a great place to swim! After our litter cleanup, I like to just jump in and splash.

It's not the same as a swimming pool, or the ocean. Hey, anyone want to join my group: Monongahela Organization for River Fun and Swimming, or MORFS? Let me know. Leave a

I'll be swimming in the Mon River up until it's too cold.

Hey, my wife, Maureen, makes a great deckhand. I was watching her putting a line around the floating pin in the lock, and thought, "How many times have you done that, and did you ever think Maureen would?'

I must explain: I worked on towboats for 11 years when I was young. Midwest Towing, Valley Barge Line, Ohio Barge Line. I was promoted to "watchman" which is the same thing as second mate. My friend Larry Durdines was a first mate. He lives at Clarksville, Pa. and has the blog tenmilecreekcountry.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pretty, not so pretty

Whenever I talk about the river to people, I try to give equal parts of positive and negative. If I'm complaining about litter and talking about clean-ups, I also try to emphasize the beauty and wonder of the river and the environment in and around it, and the people I get to meet out there.

Last Sunday we had an lovely day, cool and clear, for August, which around here is known for being pretty hot and humid.

Photo above:
The gates close behind us as we lock up river, leaving the Morgantown harbor to clean up litter above the dam.

So, that's the theme here. Beauty and the beast. Beauty first. I don't understand some people who run up and down the river at full throttle, causing a big wake and lots of noise. Especially those on jet-skis. I guess if I were young that's what I'd do, but I'd miss a lot. Like the flowers. Always in the spring and summer there are flowers and trees blooming on the river banks.

Photos right and below: I don't know what these are called. They are all over the banks during August.

I wish I knew more flower names. I spend way too much time playing the banjo, I guess, or I'd learn something useful.

In the spring, the black locust blooms, white flowers like bunches of albino grapes cascading from the early spring yellow green leaves and scenting the air with perfume.

I wanted to get a photo of a bright red flower that's blooming now -- a tiny thing I've heard called Indian's paintbrush. I'll try again next weekend.

So, that's the beauty. Here's the beast: Well, this pretty little pink flamingo (below) is nice. It was in the litter we found along the west bank just above the lock.

This is all material that was caught by the Morgantown dam, then floated upriver, ending up in a pile along the shore.I'm happy to say we've very nearly eliminated most of it in this particular location.

It's hard work and pretty boring, but we love the "before and after" effect. Maureen and I were pretty tired when we finished this area, having moved 17 bags of litter, picking up each bottle, can, cigarette lighter, cup, ball individually. And DEP bags are very large. So, it's gone now and the osprey flying overhead says, "Hey, down there, thanks a lot: I live here and it looks so much better now." Also, if you go down to the river in the Morgantown area much, you'll notice it's pretty litter free. Well there's a resaon for that. I don't think you'll find it to be so in many other areas.

One other thing: Please join the Facebook cause.