2010-09-20 Blue Creek and the New River Jacksonville, NC
This trip is upstream of Routes 17 and 24 in Jacksonville, NC. Thanks to
Leo Schmidt of Emerald Isle it was conducted by motorboat instead of
our usual canoes and kayaks. This is more efficient as you will see.
The principle reason for the trip was to pick up all trash as we always do.
By coincidence Amanda Hickey, , had just done
this same trip but she and her group were on a mission to determine where
signs should be placed along this Canoe Trail. They also launched their boats
at McCallister Landing on Rhodestown Road and paddled downstream.
The last two paragraphs of Amanda’s article, “Paddling Into Peace” were
devoted to trash in the river. Well, Amanda, the trash has been picked
up and the river is clean and its beauty is unmarred by the ugly trash as
far as we could go. We hit a rocky bottom just before McCallister Landing.
A secondary reason for our trip was to measure salinity in the river at
various points. Our first reading was at the ramp at Marina Cafe. It was 12
PPT (Parts Per Thousand) which is enouogh to kill alligatorweed. DaleWeston
from Jacksonville sat up front in the boat. He recorded all readings and
wrote them down at their GPS cordinates.
The salinity at the dock and at this picture which is on the western shoreline
just above the ramp was high enough to kill alligatorweed. These readings
will vary with the volume of fresh water coming down the river. Right now
the gauge at Northwest Bridge Road is at 3 cubic feet per second. It lists the
all time Minimum at 3.9, in 1968, the Median at 34, the Mean at 108 and the
Max at 1680 in 1955! Click on this to see for yourself if you are interested.
|LOCATION||Marina Cafe Bay Western Shore 1st Weed Patch||Salinity:
|34′ 46.326||77′ 26.276||21||na|
Another partial kill here. 2nd weed patch:
|LOCATION||Marina Cafe Bay 2nd weed patch||Salinity:
|34′ 46.279||77′ 26.219||22||na|
Onslow County Soil and Water Conservation Division headed by Bill Morris has been
spaying with a chemical spray that is systemic and kills the entire plant. This winter
we hope he and his men will be working with us to take advantage of the winter kill
and the strong currents to get every bit of this horrible, foreign, invasive weed down to salt water where it cannot live.
These next three were floating free out in the middle of the river from
the ramp.They all indicate a partial kill. GPS reading is:
|LOCATION||Marina Cafe Bay 100 yards off ramp||Salinity:
|34′ 46.266||77′ 26.229||19||28|
Wherever the water was deep enough we took surface readings and a
second reading at between 4 and five feet:
Sorry, I accidentally deleted the reading for this one
The deeper readings all indicated a higher salinity.
Alligatorweed hung up behind a strainer partially killed. This was at the
mouth of Blue Creek. As we went up Blue Creek we got a real surprise.
The water became alive with thousands of little fish. We suppose they
are menhaden recently hatched. They were under our boat and the water
boiled with them as they fled toward the shoreline to get away from us.
They were present in the New River too but not so obvious.
This is the fancy, elegant access and launching device up Blue Creek.
Access is via Oakhurst Park off Routes 24/258. Sgns are on the road.
This large mass of alligatorweed is doubling its total mass every three weeks.
Another propagating nursery for alligatorweed.
This is a beautiful home up Blue Creek with a channel off Blue Creek and,
yes, there are two bright green masses of alligatorweed in this little channel.
Dale up front in the boat
In all these shots I was trying to get a picture of a white, juvenile blue heron.
Maybe he is in there somewhere but I can’t find him.
He lead us all the way down Blue Creek Now we are srarting up the New
River and he is still leading us.
This is Leo. That bird could be in thisi picture too.
A mixed dying and growing mass of alligatorweed. At one place like this
there was a bright, fresh green mass of alligatorweed that must have just
come from upstream. It was hung up in front. We loosened it with the hoe
handle. It all hung together and floated away with the outgoing tide.
We placed some light trash on it. If you come across it downstream please
let us know.
There is a beautiful pure white flower here at right center.
Some weed dead, some dying, some growing.
More of the same.
Bag worms have probably killed this huge tree. Fishing should be good here.
A beautiflul bush of yellow flowers. This is the same flower that exists at
the Canoe Trail begining in the little pond at Steed’s Park on Cowhorn Rd.
The three of us at the ramp with our day’s collection of trash. those four
bags are full! Leo is taking it to the dump.
I arrived early and I took a salinity reading right behind where we are on
the ramp. It read 12 which is high enough to kill alligatorweed.
We had to turn around where we stopped going upstream due to a shallow
rocky bottom which damaged the propeller. This is the lowest flow ever
according to the USGS gauge. We used to see springs in this area flowing
cold, clear water into the New River. They were coming from the aquifer.
Perhaps the flow is reversed now and the New River is flowing into the
aquifer and replenishing it! As salt water is heavier than fresh water could
salt water be intruding our aquifer?
A great and beautiful day on the water we all enjoyed it very much. Elmer
Some observations about alligatorweed.
These views are not those of all Waterway Stewards:
#1. It is killed whenever it is exposed to freezing weather. This includes
that portion that is actually frozen in surface water. Stems and roots that
are below the ice are not frozen and remain alive. In fact, they sprout with
new leaf growth every tme we have three or four warm days of warm weather
which happens in North Carolina every winter.
This winter kill should be taken full advantage of as this kill has reduced the
total mass by close to 50%. The above water growth if in open water tends
to fall over on itself when it attains two feet in height. If supported by
overhanging branches or blown down trees it will grow and stay taller where
it is hung up. It is dies too when the water level goes down and it is
exposed to the colder air.
The under water stems and roots remain alive and sprout new growth
at the very first appearance of warm weather. They may even grow slowly too
all winter. They grow into intertwoven masses. The under water stems and
roots grow up to eight feet long. The whole mass hangs together and can be
moved intact with rakes, pitch forks and grapple hooks. The current takes over
and the hole mass is on its way to death in salt water.
#2. The current in the river is usually running 24/7. We should also take
advantage of this. The rate of flow and the volume varies tremendously
depending on the weather. Tides also affect it where there is tidal water.
Right after heavy rains we should be on the river freeing
all alligatorweed that is hung up on anything. The current
will vary from one to five miles per hour depending on the
terrain. This fast moving water will carry tons of alligatorweed
rapidly downstream to death in salt water. We just need to
help it along when it gets hung up in strainers.
Many of these strainers are blown down trees that should be
It is now September 28. Our rains have finally come. The gauge
on the New River rose yesterday from 2 feet to over 9 feet!
This is bound to be moving tons of alligatorweed downstream.
The remnants of a tropical storm are to visit us this Thursday.
Unfortunately I cannot get on the river to observe what is taking.
place. It is raining very hard again right now here in Trenton.
I hope some of you can get on the river and report with your
observations and pictures. Thanks, Elmer