Friday, December 7, 2012

The Flatboat Project

Hey, I'm really excited about the Flatboat Project, sponsored by the Morgantown Museum Commission. We're going to build a flatboat, a common vessel on the Mon River from the late 1700s through much of the 1800s.  It will be at the Ruby Memorial Park in Morgantown, very near where the city's original entrepreneur, Michael Kerns, build boats for pioneers traveling west.  The Flatboat Project begins on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, with a reception and exhibit at the Morgantown History Museum on Kirk street, 7 p.m.  Free and open to the public.  Please come.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Monongahela Monitor is in the boatyard for winter

Got the Monitor into Mark's Marina boatyard just before Sandy hit.  End of the season.  Did a few cleanups of litter on the river this summer, but mostly concentrated on getting two more kiosks up and establishing the no wake zone for Morgantown.  Will miss being out on the Monongahela.  Looking forward to next summer.
Thanks for all you support.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Final kiosk installed at Star City

 I'm going to be honest about this: I'm so glad the final kiosk is finished!

After a number of blisters and cuts and bruises and hours and hours of work, the last of three information kiosks is now in place. (Click for larger views of photos).

I want to thank several people who helped make this idea become a fact: That would include Charlie Huguenard and Joe Douglass at Longview Power Plant for funding, Kevin Nuce and Robert Lloyd at Star City for help in site preparation and Mary Davis with Greenspace Coalition for keeping track of expenses.   Also thanks to Anthony Giambrone for taking the idea to Star City's leadership for support.

This took longer than I expected, but it's hard to do weekend projects such as river cleanups and kiosk construction and also work for WVU.  Regardless: Number one is at Deckers Creek (finished in 2010); number two is at Walnut Street (completed in spring 2012) and the Star City riverfront kiosk is number three (completed in late summer 2012).  I can tell you that the one at Deckers Creek (for which Charlie and Joe actually dug post holes) is definitely working: we've emptied the litter barrel several times this summer.

You can see our messages about litter if you click on the photo to enlarge.  The left side has a river history, an appeal for better public consciousness about litter, and a no wake notice (regarding the Morgantown no wake zone).  The right has DNR information on invasive aquatic fishes and the fish tagging program, sent by Frank Jernejcic of the WV DNR.

Special thanks to Chris Wilson and Biao Qiu who helped with construction and some very tough digging at the Walnut Street location. Aslo Jennie Terman, my daughter, and David Helsabeck helped with the final stages of the Star City installation.

NOTICE: Our river cleanup schedule for September is:  Sept 2, Sept. 9, Sept 16.  If you want to be part of the crew, let me know.  Contact me at These will begin at the Morgantown Marina docks at 9 a.m. and we usually finish around 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A nice scene

Last Sunday I took a joy ride on The Monongahela Monitor downriver to the Greer fleet, which is just below the power plant on Beechurst Avenue.

I noticed a motor boat along the west bank across from Deckers Creek with a man, woman and two children. The kids and dad were fishing, quietly sharing some quality time in the shade of the big sycamores and paw-paw trees.  I also saw a guy in a kayak fishing.  That's something that takes some coordination, I believe.  Regardless: it was good to see.

I have often thought of the Mon River at Morgantown as our Cheat Late. People are so into recreation on Cheat Lake, but for those of us who live in Morgantown, well, the river's a lot closer.  And now, with our no wake zone from just below the Westover bridge to the lock and dam, it's a lot more peaceful.

An example, pretty good sized cruiser passed me while I was at the Greer fleet at a pretty good clip. He had a jet-ski zooming along behind him.  So, I was curious about what would happen when he went around the bend and encountered the no wake buoy.

It was perfect.  The jet ski did a couple of doughnuts and they both came about and headed back down the river.  Now, just imagine if that buoy and no wake zone were not there.  The guy fishing in the kayak and the family fishing along the west bank would have been pounded by the wake of the cruiser and jet ski.  I think everyone was well served by our new no wake zone.

Oh, I also watched a heron.  These birds seem to pose for me: I came up to one along the west bank across from Ruby McQuain Park and watched it spread its great wings and fly to a branch further upriver. Then, it posed, its long neck and legs, dagger-like beak and top crest, gray and back-lit against the green trees. Then, it flew off again, posing in the air, swooping just above the water, reflecting in the river, to another branch, where, of course, it posed again as my boat overtook it. Herons along the Mon River do this; flying as you approach, then posing, then flying, posing, flying, as your boat get closer again and again.

The folks in fast boats, bouncing everyone around as they pass, don't get to see this.  Too bad, I guess.

Hey, maybe I'll see you down at the river!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Anyone lose a pickup bed liner?

We wondered how something like this bed liner came to be in the Monongahela River. No good answers. It's among the largest items we've pulled out; probably second to the car bumper from a couple years ago. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Anyway, we had a good day of "fishing" for litter on the Mon and really got the Morgantown harbor area looking good.  In this photo you see the liner and our other ''catch" with crew members Carol on the left and Hannah on the right.

Thanks, Carol and Hannah. They worked hard, as you can see in this photo, left. Each bottle, Bud Lite can, etc., must be picked up individually. There's no other way. So this is labor intensive, and it takes a real commitment to the environment and the Earth and the Monongahela River, to get this job done.

Below, the crew cleaning up the decks of the Monongahela Monitor back at the dock after our Saturday morning effort.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Litter cleanup this weekend (July 14)

I've been out of town for a couple weeks, so haven't been able to get out and clean the river. But this Saturday we'll be out.  Interested in joining in?  Be at the marina at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 14.  Give me a call and let me know you are coming.  304 292-5087.  There may be rain, so I'll need you on the list in case we must cancel.

Monday, June 25, 2012

No wake zone is observed

On Sunday the river was crowded with bass boats, and I witnessed an amazing sight. During the afternoon the Morgantown Lock gates opened and between 8-10 bass boats emerged, coming down river from fishing in the next pool. They all passed through Morgantown harbor at a slow speed!  They were here for a tournament and must have all agreed to observe the no wake zone law.

Thanks to all boaters on the river who are abiding by the new law and no-wake zone!  Our river is much safer now - this 3/4 mile section, and we do appreciate those boaters who are helping.

Friday, June 15, 2012

River cleanup before triathlon

Wow! It's triathlon time in Morgantown, just about.

I've done a river cleanup every year, so let's pull out the calendar and put a big CLEANUP on next Friday, June 22. That's two days before the event on June 24.

The reason for doing this is simple: there will be a lot of visitors to our town all along the river, and I want it to look good.

So, if you are interested in joining the crew of the Monongahela Monitor, our 28 foot riverboat, on Friday, let me know. Send and email to me at  We will go out for about 3 hours that evening around 5.  Back by dark anyway.

Want to help with a donation?  You can do that!  We have a bunch of costs, including boat maintenance, gas, etc. You can donate here: :

Thursday, June 7, 2012

No wake zone sign is up!

Here it is, the no wake zone!  As we were painting this Wednesday evening a rower went by and shouted, "I love it!"

There are people who are going to complain about this 3/4 mile part of a 127-mile-long river, but, in my opinion, we may have saved that young lady, or another, or a swimmer or kayaker, from death or serious injury by getting this designation through. I've seen a lot of close calls down there on the river. So, let's cool it a little in this area folks.  Thanks.

It is state law.  Title 58, Series 27, 3.1.6.  Just in time for the Arts Alive festival this weekend.

Thanks to Chris Wilson and Biao Qiu (on left) for the help. Also thanks to Mark Wise at BOPARC.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Second kiosk is finished, at last....

With a grant from the Longview power plant, we have been installing kiosks along the river with historical information and an anti-litter message.  We installed one at the mouth of Deckers Creek where there is a beautiful little "peninsula" that often draws people who fish, but who also leave litter behind. 

We installed a kiosk there with a litter barrel in late 2010.  It works!  We emptied the barrel on Memorial Day.  It was quite full. People are using it instead of leaving litter on the ground near the river.

Now we have our second at Walnut Street where the boat launch ramp is.  We used a high quality outdoor bulletin board for this one, and it looks great. Click the photo to see close up.  You can even see the message about how plastic in the river may contribute to the deaths of albatross in the ocean and the photo of the Sunday school group at the Presbyterian church with a banner that says, "Keep Our River Clean; Use the Litter Barrel."

Thanks to Chris Wilson and Biao Qiu, a WVU volunteer from China in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.  We did some very hard digging to sink the post for this one, unlike the Deckers Creek kiosk, which was in soft sand.

Our next kiosk will be installed soon at the Star City park, right next to the boat ramp.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kiosk work, river baptisim,

On Sunday, Chris, Biao and I tried to finish up work on our Walnut Street information kiosk. This is our second installation. The other is at the mouth of Decker's Creek.  We didn't finish, but made some progress, and we'll soon have this up. Funds for these have been provided by Longview Power.

Regardless, we got to witness something really neat - a river baptism. As we were encountering yet another difficulty with hanging the kiosk bulletin board, a group of people approached and one person introduced himself as the preacher of the Catalyst Church, which meets up on High Street.

He said they were coming to a baptism.

Pretty soon everyone gathered round and we stopped work and one of the congregation waded into the water, still rather cold, and was baptized.  I mentioned to the preacher how I understand the river to be sacred, that rivers are, and how I thought river baptisms had died out but was glad to get to see one.

Many rivers are sacred, perhaps all.  Maybe all water is sacred.

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea."  -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Monday, April 16, 2012

Have potato chips, no boat

I received a big box on my front porch Friday. It was a surprise: a huge box of individual Boulder Canyon chips. The company is sponsoring the American Rivers cleanup campaign and I guess they send chips to all the participants.

So, I've got chips, but had to cancel our cleanup on Saturday because my boat isn't quite ready to launch.  So, I'll save the chips for our next attempt.  I believe that will be the last weekend in April, which is still pretty early for our summer cleanups. 

Here's what the chip folks have to say:
Boulder Canyon is a proud sponsor of American Rivers and the National River Cleanup because we share the same vision and dedication to a better, more natural environment.   We help communicate that message with the American Rivers logo prominently displayed on our bags. Boulder Canyon also donates cases of chips, volunteer t-shirts, and trash bags to all river cleanups. Last year we donated over 70,000 trash bags used by volunteers to remove debris from rivers across the country. This year American Rivers will host approximately 500 cleanups thanks to 60,000 volunteers who help communities keep their rivers clean and trash-free.
Thanks to American Rivers and Boulder Canyon!   I also received a box of trash bags from American Rivers.So, we are all set for our outing in May.  I did have a chance to reconnoiter the river on Saturday in my kayak.  There's a lot of litter for us to clean up and I can't wait to get started.  This was rather early to be out, as the water is still pretty cold.  So, May will be better anyway.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Saturday's cleanup postponed

Because I'm having some difficulty getting the Monongahela Monitor launched for the summer, I need to cancel the American Rivers cleanup that was scheduled for Saturday, April 14. We were trying to get an early start (we don't usually get out until May), but it looks like it will be later in April before the boat's ready.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Monday, April 2, 2012

trees along Mon River

These trees were very beautiful this spring, in late March. A little early because of the warm weather. These are at Morgantown, mile 101 on the Monongahela River.

Friday, March 23, 2012

American Rivers Mon Cleanup in April

I've registered with Americans Rivers to do a cleanup on the Mon River on April 14, Saturday.
Let me know if you want to help. This will be the earliest summer cleanup since I started doing these back in 2006. Usually I don't even get the Monongahela Monitor into the water from her winter boat-yard lay-up until the end of April. But we've pretty much skipped April this spring, haven't we? We will begin at 9 a.m. and be back around 2-3 p.m. Walnut Street boat launch. If you are interested in helping, just comment.

Monday, March 12, 2012

705, Stewartstown Rd. Cleanup Successful

It's really easy to know if you've had a success when you do a litter cleanup. No one got hurt, everyone is smiling and you have 28 bags of litter picked up. (Click photos to enlarge)

So, writing that headline was easy.

Thanks to several groups, listed below, we did get 705, The Orchard Bypass, from the intersection at Stewartstown Road cleaned and from the intersection down Stewartstown Rd. to the bottom of the hill. And no one was run over.

The folks that helped can tell you I was worried about that. Thanks, everyone.

The litter we picked up might have been washed into West Run, which enters the Mon River down near the end of Collins Ferry Rd. See the satellite shot at bottom.

Also, we got to use the Burma Shave signs, produced by the Litter Control folks. Thanks!

Alpha Delta Lambda Honorary
Community Medicine Student Association
WVU Political Science Students
Sierra Club of Morgantown
Monongahela River Revival

Financial support was provided from a grant made possible by IMPACT Earth and the Mon County Solid Waste Authority and Litter Control. Supplies, including the great big orange road signs, were provided by the WV Department of Highways.

Please subscribe, there's a button somewhere on this page, to get updates. Try the vertical black bar on the upper right.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Burma shave against litter!

Hey, if you are driving on Rt. 705 this weekend going toward the Mileground (Rt. 119) you'll see some Burma Shave signs. Remember them? We'll you couldn't unless you are in your 60s. These were signs put out in sequence along the roads in the 1920s-50s to sell a product.

On Friday evening, 3-9, we are putting these signs out along Rt. 705 (the Orchard Bypass) to draw attention to the litter out there.
Then on Sunday morning, 3-11, we'll be picking it up!

So, if you are out that way, honk if you see us and give our volunteers a thumbs up!

The Mon River Revival organized this with support from IMPACT Earth and volunteers from WVU's Alpha Lambda Delta, Dr. Hunter's political science capstone class, the Community Medicine Student Association and the Sierra Club.

Oh, what will our signs say? you ask.
Litter So Bad
Makes Us All Sad
Let's Clean It Up
And Then Be Glad

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Did you know there are 5 ocean plastic "gyres?" These are currents in the oceans that trap plastic junk... forever.

Take a look. Very informative.

This site has given me a great idea: I want kids in the area to help me build a boat from plastic off the river!
There's a demo video on the 5gyres site. Must do this summer!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What's up at Opekiska Dam

My wife and I took a trip to the southwest portion of Monongalia County on Tuesday and stopped by Opekiska Dam. The photos (click them for closer view) I took show a lot of debris ready to come downriver to places like Morgantown. The trees and tree limbs are natural. But look closely at all the bottles, plastic, tires, etc. This shameful. What's worse, little is being done about it. (Please note the US flag and the Corps of Engineers flag flying over this mess across the river).

We try to clean up what we can during the summer months in the Morgantown area. But looking at this was disturbing and, I'll admit, disheartening. That we simply flush this down stream, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, is wrong. It's just wrong. That it's there in the first place is a statement about humans and their ways. It's there. It's waiting to come our way.

But here's the interesting point. There is a crane on top of the dam superstructure, right above this mess. That crane (see below) could dip this stuff up, deposit it on the shore for disposal - probably in two or three days of work. But guess what? The crane doesn't work. That's the word I received from a representative of the Corps of Engineers. So, status quo.

All this is coming down the river, down the river and out into the oceans. The Corps of Engineers doesn't have money to fix the crane, so there's no use discussing it. Seems like the same kinds of answers always come from that direction. Well, perhaps they always have the same kinds of funding problems. I don't know. But I'd be willing to get a petition drive going to get money to fix the crane and get this mess out of the river.

After working in the Morgantown area to clean up the litter since 2005, I now realize that the answer to the problem is here at Opekiska Dam. The litter should be removed here before it even heads down to Hildebrand and Morgantown. I should say the solution to the problem is to not have it in the river in the first place, but that's a long-term effort. For the short term, we need to do something here. And I believe the US Corps of Engineers should be part of the solutions.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I am starting a fundraising effort to pay for next summer and our winter cleanups. The Mon Valley Green Space Coalition is the 501c3 non-profit that takes care of all donations and funds for our river effort. Further funding from the City of Morgantown is doubtful, so our plans to expand and do more river miles of cleanup are in jeopardy. Help if you can. Next month I plan to organize people around the Evertteville area, above Hildebrand Lock and Dam, to do some cleanups along the creeks leading to the Mon - before the spring rains washes litter down.

Hope this works!