WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) - Two members of the Sound Rivers team are taking a five day journey, covering 70 miles of the Tar-Pamlico River, to survey the status of the waterway and make plans for any necessary intervention projects.
“I’ve paddled some of the creeks and smaller streams of Eden,” said Riverkeeper Jill Howell. “But I’m excited to see what it’s like on water that only gets bigger from here in a kayak and how that feels.”
Most of the river team’s scheduled events for 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to the pandemic.
Last year, the duo paddled down over 160 miles of the Tar-Pamlico River in an event they coined “Tour de Tar.”
“This fall, we again canceled a lot of our stuff and we want to keep our members engaged and let people know that we are still out here and still working,” said Howell.
After reports of several fish kills came into the Sound Rivers office this past week, the trip is very timely.
“That’s usually an indication of nutrient overload and we’ll be paddling past those places to see what the conditions are now,” said environmental projects coordinator Clay Barber.
They will keep their eyes pealed for any other red flags along the watershed.
“There are a lot of concerns around just water quality, number one,” said Barber. “We have a couple of farm operations and some mining operations and storm water runoff. All of these things contribute to nutrient and sediment pollution in the river.”
Beginning in Washington, the journey will continue with the team stopping along the river each night to camp out. They will finish the ride in Swan Quarter.
To send of the kayakers, dozens of community environmentalists gathered bright and early to contribute to a riverside clean up.
“It’s easier to pick up trash on land than to fish it out of the river, so we had a really great turnout for that,” said Barber.
Howell and Barber are excited to tour the area and come up with new ways to make the Tar-Pamlico River accessible to all.
“We have the Tar-Pamlico water trail, which this is a part of,” said Barber along the waterfront of the Tar-Pamlico. “It’s got our network of camping platforms and it highlights access points. You’ll notice ‚if you look at the map, that once you get past Washington, access points and public beaches really drop off.
He is looking forward to potential recreational development projects.
“In the future we’d like to make this easier for people to do this without having to know somebody,” said Barber.
For Riverkeeper Howell, this trip is equally work and play.
“Anytime you can spend a good amount of time out on the river, taking a look around, I think that’s helpful for understanding issues when people call and report something that’s happening over on Bath Creek or at Summer Haven,” said Howell. “Just having a context of what the river looks like and where everything is at is really useful.”
The paddlers encourage followers to join their Pamlico Paddle journey on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/soundriversnc.