Thursday, July 28, 2011

French River Maintenance

Many jobs keeping the river and its shoreline pleasant and accessible take only a few man-hours each and never become the subject for a full volunteer workday, but they are important nonetheless. In recent weeks we have cleaned two sections of river, and since they have been cleaned before, were able to guage how fast trash accumulates. "Our" section of the French in Thompson, from Perryville to Wilsonville, was cleaned up again after only a year, and the "take" was approximately a wheelbarrow load, with no tires or large heavy objects. This is a place that a few years ago yielded over 60 tires. We also cleaned in Webster near the new French River Park, which was last cleaned in 2006, when many tons of trash and dozens of tires were removed. This year there were 16 tires, which seems like a lot, but that's only about three per year in a primary dumping area. Sometimes we find lone objects that just have to go. A large liquified gas tank was discovered where we had cleaned near Chase Avenue in May. Perceiving a possible danger, and recognizing that it would might never be easier to get, with the cooperation of a nearby business owner, the Fire department was called and they removed it as a training exercise.

Not all maintenance needs are man-made. It's a touchy subject, but sometimes it is wise to cut a path through trees that have fallen in the water. This needs to be done with a minimum disturbance, as fallen trees are a natural part of the riverscape and provide habitat for aquatic creatures. And paddling through them is part of the experience of traveling a narrow, tree-lined river. However, they can pose a danger, especially to novice paddlers. A few well chosen cuts can make the paddle one that more people can enjoy, and who may then wish to add their voices to those who support river protection. With this in mind, we opened the river up a little bit above and below the Park location, so that paddlers will not immediately run into daunting obstacles.

Unfortunately, some of our maintenance tasks are born in meanness and stupidity. Such is the case with the Perryville Trace sign, which, after standing for three years, was cut down by vandals. It has now been removed for rebuilding.


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