Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stokes 5th Graders get Environmental Awareness

The Stokes County Soil & Water Conservation District hosted their annual Environmental Awareness Day at Hanging Rock State Park on Thursday, April 19, 2012 ... and this year DRBA got to help with the Tub'O'Bugs program developed by our own Wayne Kirkpatrick. DRBA staffer, Dale Swanson, along with Chad Lange and Sara Jo Durham, talked with class after class of Stokes County 5th graders about the importance of healthy streams and all of the remarkable "fish food" that lives in them in the form of macro-invertebrates. -->
It was a lot of fun for us and it sure looked like the children enjoyed the creepy-crawlies while they absorbed just a little environmental science.

Dan River Cleanup :: Hart's Access to Highway 89

Preparing to launch the cleanup from Hart's Access
at the Hwy 704 bridge
At 10:00am on April 14, 2012, a total of 5 young men met at the intersection of Highway 89 and Old Lynchburg Rd. just north of Danbury, NC. Four canoes and one kayak were loaded onto Dave Kuley's trailer and we headed upstream for the first river cleanup in Stokes County of the year. We logged over 7 miles in just under 7 hours with a total take of 1,100 pounds of tires (18), roof metal, hypalon, old equipment of various types, and plenty of containers of every description.
Canoes as trash barges.
Many thanks to Nathan Krizmanich, Jimmy Newsome, Lucas Conkle & Dave Kuley. Special thanks to Oakley Mabe for permitting use of his property near the Highway 89 bridge for accessing the river and unloading our over burdened canoes. Further thanks to Kitty Brown for providing trash transport from the river to the Stokes County Solid Waste Transfer Station in Quaker Gap and to Jesse Moore for outstanding supervisory services.
One final thanks to the County for accepting our collected refuse without charge!
At the end of a long Big Sweeping day.This photo does not do justice to the pile of junk behind us.
If you know an organization that would like to help clean up our river and county please contact Sara Jo Durham or Dale Swanson for more information and to schedule a cleanup.

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 14 River Cleanup - TIME CHANGE

In light of the cool weather we've been having we will delay meeting on Saturday morning until 10am. Be sure to dress appropriately with synthetic clothes in layers ... it WILL be warming up a little!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring River Clean-Up Events

Mark your calendars!

The Dan River Basin Association is hosting a river clean-up on April 14th in Stokes County. We will be focusing on the 6.5 mile section of the Dan River between Hart's Access and the Highway 89 Bridge. Trash bags and gloves will be provided by North Carolina Big Sweep. In addition to your canoe or kayak, everyone should bring their own lunch.

We will meet at the Highway 89 bridge at 9am at a private access with the generous permission of the property owner. From here we will shuttle to Hart's Access at the Highway 704 bridge upstream.

Two weeks later, on April 28th, the Tarheel Paddlers Association will be holding a river clean on the Hanging Rock section of the Dan in conjunction with the Dan River Company. For more information visit

Check back later for updates on more DRBA clean-up events. Over the course of the next couple months we will be working our way down the Dan River in an effort to keep the river clean and free of trash. Please let us know if there is a particular section of river in need of our attention.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Improvements at the Snow Creek Access

Eric Juday (TRR) and Dale Swanson (DRBA)
happy to be unloading boulders from
Piedmont Stone, Inc.!
After many months of planning and false starts there are now two barriers made of large boulders at the Snow Creek Access on the Dan River. Several years ago the Davis Chapel Historical Association partnered with the Dan River Basin Association to establish a public access on property they own between Dodgetown Road and Snow Creek. Protecting the property from vandalism and littering has been a challenge and all are hopeful that the boulders will stop people from driving motorized vehicles onto the property - as well as into the river at the historical ford.

Ray Rhodes deftly rolls a boulder
into position as Chad Lang guides.
Primary funding for this project was provided by an American Canoe Association "Club Fostered Stewardship Grant" sponsored by L.L. Bean.

We are extremely thankful to Piedmont Stone, Inc. for the donation of several hours of equipment and operator time in addition to providing the boulders for the project at a great price. Without the expert guidance of Ray Rhodes on the forklift we surely would have taken twice as long. Special thanks to Joey James who was instrumental in making this happen.

Of course, putting shovels (and picks and rakes) in the ground requires hands-on labor as well and this project could not have been completed without the assistance of many river-loving volunteers. They are listed below.

After-boulder float on the Dan River!
Following the dirty work many of the volunteers as well as a few late arriving cheerleaders enjoyed a beautiful float from Moratock Park in Danbury back down to the new and improved Davis Chapel/Snow Creek river access. A perfect conclusion to a productive day protecting public access to the river in Stokes County!

Volunteers in attendance:
W.T. Heath
Benjamin Heath
Sara Jo Durham
Duane Brown
Trish Owens
Chad Lang
Rhonda Dane
James VanLew
Monty Hamby
Ann Somers
Dale Swanson
and especially - Eric Juday

Hoping to see more access improvements throughout Stokes with this one now behind us!

Contributing local organizations not mentioned above:
Davis Chapel Historic Association
Triad River Runners
Smith River Valley Canoe Club
Tarheel Paddlers Association
Dan River Basin Association

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What's a cupule?

While we all know, intellectually at least, that people have been living on the banks of the Dan River in Stokes County for thousands of years, the fact doesn't really strike home until an immovable artifact appears. The "Indian Rock" in the Dan River at the confluence of North Double Creek is definitely one of those artifacts.
During a pleasure float on a spring Sunday in 2011 archaeologist, Chris Espenshade, noticed a large pock-marked rock in the river that reminded him of some petroglyphs his organization recently identified on the Hiwassee River near Cherokee, North Carolina. The type of markings are known as cupules and are considered the oldest form of rock art known.
Chris returned to the river the following Wednesday with his son, Andrew, as well as me, Dale Swanson. The Dan River Company provided our shuttle to their private access just downstream of the Highway 89 bridge - a huge convenience. After launching Andrew took off like a rocket apparently bored by two old guys talking and examining every rock along the riverbank for unnatural markings.
About a mile downstream, after passing "Snake Island", we approached the mouth of North Double Creek marking the upstream border of George's Bottom. A low rock in the middle of the stream clearly had Chris' attention as we got closer. I experienced a funny 'Aha' moment when the pock-faced rock came into focus and exclaimed, "That's the Indian Rock!" Of course, I had noticed it years ago and was familiar with the local speculation about the purpose of the little cup-shaped divots in it. Grinding corn or nuts or inks were the most common suggestions - none of which had ever made sense to me.
Chris explained that over the past year his company, New South Associates, had been contracted to survey the Hiwassee River in Cherokee, NC. That project had revealed rock art in the form of cupules on rocks just upstream of each of three Native American fish traps or weirs in the study area. The Dan River "Indian Rock" at North Double Creek appears to be similar in design and location to those already documented artifacts.
The layout of area around the Indian Rock helps to create a picture of pre-colonial life along the Dan River. George's Bottom, where the rock is located, would have been a bustling village. It's 40 acres are bounded almost entirely by the running waters of the Dan River, North Double Creek and South Double Creek. A truly ideal location for a village. The farmland that occupies that space today is rumored to be rich with arrowheads and other stone tools.
Sitting on the rock and looking downstream you can imagine the activity of the area. Two large gravel bars in the riverbed - a major frustration for recreational boaters in August when the water is low - would almost certainly have been arranged into fish traps. This setting provides a cultural environment very similar to the area studied on the Hiwassee River. I could imagine children playing in the river and possibly sitting on that same rock. Could the 45 to 50 cupules on that rock been carved by generations of bored children?
Experts remain puzzled by the specific purpose of these 'cupules' which are found throughout the world. It seems unlikely that the cups were useful in any utilitarian way - they are simply too small for grinding quantities of grains or nuts. And so researchers fall back into the standard "don't know" response - "some type of ritual."
So the next time you float the Dan River from Highway 89 to Moore's Springs Campground or beyond - take a moment to drink in a little historical reverie with our long departed neighbors. It is humbling and will enrich your experience of our world.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Riverbank Dumps at Dan River Shores Community

Assessing the 1st dump site

Saturday morning, March 19, 2011 dawned with the promise of a beautiful and warm Spring day. In the parking lot of the Dan River Company people with a purpose gathered with happy greetings. The purpose – clean up 2 riverbank dumps that boaters on the Hanging Rock section of the river have been tolerating (and griping about) for a decade or more.

Separating the metal

The dump sites began, ostensibly, as a home made erosion control project with objects like old bed springs, metal pipe, a few rocks and broken bits of concrete. Having taken on the appearance of a dump, others apparently began contributing construction debris and household trash.

In the ditch at site 2

Once our number rose to 11 at the DRC lot we loaded into three vehicles for the 2 mile trip to the riverside development. We armed ourselves with a few shovels and rakes supported by a big roll of trash bags and plenty of gloves provided by Stokes County Big Sweep coordinator, Sara Jo Durham. Bottled water provisions were supplied by Hanging Rock General Store.

A sign of improvement

After a brief evaluation of the situation, we fell to work bagging the trash and extracting the larger items. Plenty of wallboard and broken lumber along with heavy sewer and water pipe. We also collected a few stuffed animals and unidentified, mud-caked textiles. A microwave oven and birdhouse were among our more interesting "finds".

Two local residents, Greg Tahtinen and Philip Dodson, came down to chat, thank us for our efforts, and pitch in. We discussed what might be done to discourage further dumping and found out about other dump sites in more discreet locations. There is definitely more to be done in this unique development on the river.

Unloading at Sizemore Rd.

Many thanks to Mark Larimore (co-owner of Sheppard Mill) and Randy Young for providing their own trucks to haul everything to the county's Sizemore Rd. facility. Thanks again to Sara Jo Durham for taking care of the paperwork and to the County for waiving our tipping fee. Stokes County values healthy and clean rivers!

A happy, hard-working group

I also want to extend special thanks to Alan Wood, Stokes County Economic Development Director, and his son, Jacob, for taking time out of a precious Spring Saturday to show their support for the river. And, of course, Ben and Allison Kelble, Jimmy Newsome, John Davis, and Vanessa Melvin – thanks for pitching in!

Discussions are underway to post some “No Dumping” signs in the Dan River Shores community as a reminder for folks. No one wants to clean up the same dump site twice! Dealing with the erosion, streambank stabilization and trespassing issues will take more time and coordination among the residents and property owners in the development.

The Dan River Basin Association's Stokes Office is organizing two upcoming river sweeps in April and May in addition to sweeps by the Tarheel Paddlers Association and High Point University's outdoor program.