Tonight The Friends of Claytor Lake had their annual Board Christmas Party at Mk’s Gourmet Pizzeria in Dublin. FOCL celebrated another great year of work, programs, and efforts to help Claytor Lake and the people who enjoy it. This year FOCL had the popular “Ugly Christmas Sweater” Theme and had some outstanding sweaters. FOCL was also joined by Mr. & Mrs. Smith which organizes the Pulaski County Toys for Tots program helping over 700 needy kids in Pulaski County. The Friends of Claytor Lake appreciates all the support from the community of Claytor Lake. If you would like to donate to FOCL this year, please visit the donate page.
Then get a load at the silt pouring out of Big Reed Creek just north of the Allisonia Rapids. This is on normal day where a mild storm rolled through the area the night before. Siltation is one of the biggest problems facing Claytor Lake, its residents, and its habitat. FOCL’s Environmental Committee is working hard to address this problem and develop strategies to minimize its impact on Claytor Lake.
July 1, 2014: The Friends of Claytor Lake, alongside AEP, VDGIF, The Bass Federation, and the Claytor Lake State Park started our Native Vegetation Project. This project reintroduces native vegetation of water celery and water willow back to the lake that was choked off by the overwhelming growth of Hydrilla over the past few years. With the Hydrilla now at what appears to be a manageable level, it was the perfect time to plant vegetation that not only has a better chance of growth but is also less susceptible to the Hydrilla’s hostile takeover.
With some helpful advice and tips from Army Corp. of Engineers Lynde Dodd, FOCL purchased and brought in 628 water willow and 148 water celery plants from North Carolina along with specialty cages from New Jersey in order to complete the project and allow the vegetation to flourish while providing the shoreline of Claytor Lake to not only become more stabilized but also serve as needed aquatic habitat.
Water-willow is a perennial that is common along stream and lake margins. Water-willow grows to 3 feet tall and often forms dense colonies that help stabilize shorelines. The stems do not usually branch and have prominent whitish lines. The leaves are opposite, long and narrowly tapered (up to inches 6 long and ½ inch wide) with smooth margins and a distinctive whitish midvein. The leaves look very much like those of the willow tree. Water-willow flowers from May through October. The flowers are on long stems originating from the base of the leaves. Flowers are 5-petaled orchid-like (3/4 inch diameter), white with purple/violet streaks on the lower petals. Water-willow can spread from seeds and forms extensive rhizomes by which it forms colonies and spreads rapidly.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Deer will browse the leaves while beaver, muskrat, and nutria will consume the rhizomes of water-willow.
Variegated Water Celery is a colorful, low spreading plant typically planted in water gardens partially submerged at the margins. The colorful, serrated leaflets of the Variegated Water Celery pops with beautiful pink tips! About mid summer, tiny white flowers in umbels bloom. Also known as the Flamingo Plant or Java Dropwort, it’s a popular favorite for Koi ponds since it makes a nutritious snack for hungry mouths. Some gardeners recommend rotating two planters – keeping one in the pond for koi and another kept away from koi and allowed to grow back – to maintain a constant supply on hand.
Though it is a lovely ornamental plant, the Variegated Water Celery is fast growing so take care in placement and expect plenty of spread. When placed properly, the Variegated Water Celery makes an excellent ground cover and a great choice for bog filters. Plants will grow fastest in wet soil under direct sun.
Close to 30 volunteers from The Friends of Claytor Lake, American Electric Power, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, The Bass Federation, and the Claytor Lake State Park were on hand for what turned out to be an entire day of planting.
The 3rd Annual Wounded Warrior fishing day had wonderful weather on Claytor Lake as veterans and their families came to participate in a fishing tournament and take their families on boat rides. All branches of our Armed Forces were on hand. The event was organized by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Claytor Lake State Park, and the Virginia Wounded Warrior Project. Sponsors of the event included The Friends of Claytor Lake, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Virginia State Police, Region 4 TBF(Bass Federation) And their significant others, Claytor Lake State Park, Wal-Mart, FOCL, VFW Post 776, Volvo, Rorrer Well Drilling, Fenton Well Drilling, Country Kitchen, American Legion 58, Anglers Envy, Preferred Pumps, Boy Scout Troop 48, and Frito Lay. Over 100 veterans and their families came out to enjoy a morning on the water and treated to lunch catered by Country Kitchen along with gift bags and prizes awarded.
The Friends of Claytor Lake, along with our supporters, got together at the Claytor Lake State Park to talk about all the events, projects, and information surrounding the lake in 2014. Guest Speaker was Lee Wensel of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. FOCL discussed new events as well as the drawdown schedule for early November of this year. Water Quality, Hydrilla, and especially Sedimentation were of key importance in today’s meeting.
The Claytor Lake Festival kicked off another year with a bang as vendors from all over the area came to together at the Claytor Lake State Park. The Friends of Claytor were there welcoming their donors and new visitors to the event. Modern and Classic cars, along with Antique Fire Trucks adorned the park as visitors listened to great music from a variety of bands and a show from the Wohlfahrt Haus in Wytheville. The day was capped off by a terrific fireworks show all to benefit Claytor Lake, The Claytor Lake State Park, Pulaski County, and Pulaski County Fine Arts Center.
Today The Friends of Claytor Lake took Dublin Middle School 8th Graders out for a spin on the water. The kids had fun learning about the lake, boater safety, and how long it takes for things people dispose of would take to decompose in the lake showing the importance of keeping our beautiful lake clean.
The 2014 Pulaski County Kid’s Fishing Day was kicked off this year again at Camp Powhatan in Pulaski County by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries along with Pulaski County and The Boy Scouts of America. Kids from all over came with their families to get outdoors and enjoy some good ol’ fashion fun fishing at Lake Powhatan. The Friends of Claytor Lake were their to give fun and information things to the kids about fishing, boating safety, and showing them how long items disposed of take to decompose in the lake.
Members of the Environmental Committee of The Friends of Claytor Lake, met with members of The National Committee for the New River, American Electric Power, and the Phipps Farm in Grayson County Virginia to learn more about efforts to strengthen shoreline along the New River and reduce siltation that has been flowing into Claytor Lake for some time now.
A major streambank stabilization project has been completed on a family farm in Grayson County owned by James Phipps, his mother Emma Phipps, and the late Eugene Phipps. This project, a partnership between the Phipps, the National Committee for the New River (NCNR), the Nature Conservancy, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Grayson County, has stabilized and protected over 6000 feet of stream and river banks on the property.
In 2010, Gene Phipps and his son James approached NCNR about erosion problems on the creeks and river banks on their farm. The 173-acre Phipps farm has been in the family for four generations. It currently has about 50 beef cattle and produces tobacco and hay. NCNR worked with the Nature Conservancy to obtain funding for the project, and contacted the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help with a fencing plan and additional funding to provide a protective buffer between the cattle grazing areas and the waterways.
The exclusion of cattle from the streams and river is an important aspect of the project. Cattle keep the grass cropped close to the ground and trample shrubs, leaving the streambanks with little or no root systems to hold the soil in place. The result is severe erosion and loss of soil from the farm. Fencing was completed in June. The cattle are now limited to pasture and have access to clean well water at gravity fed troughs.
Work has been completed to stabilize the banks of the New River at the mouth of Potato Creek as well as two additional un-named tributaries and associated wetlands on the property so that they will remain healthy throughout rain and flood events. Native trees, shrubs and grasses, whose root systems are vital to holding the soil in place, have been planted on the newly sloped banks and on any bank lacking shrubs and trees. This vegetation (the riparian buffer) serves not only to protect the land but will filter and slow rain runoff, shade the river so that the water is cool for fish, and provide shelter and protection for birds and other wildlife.
The partnership with the Nature Conservancy, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the USDA Farm Service Agency,and NCNR worked with the Phipps to strengthen the riparian buffer rules in the old conservation easement, to ensure that future generations will also protect the streambanks.
Help with the project was also provided by Foggy Mountain Nursery. FOCL, NCNR, and AEP members toured the nursery to look at the growing process of plant life that aid in shoreline stabilization.
Tonight The Friends of Claytor Lake awarded its first Volunteer of the year to Mr. Dave Dobyns for his in-kind contributions to the organization as well as his instrumental part in helping with our Clean Up Program for 2013. Last year The Friends of Claytor Lake, due largely to Mr. Dobyns efforts, received new barges and an excavator which helped FOCL bring in record amounts of debris from Claytor Lake. An operation which cost over $94,000 to run and brought in over 4,500 tons of debris.
Events like the floods of January 2013 and July 2013 kept both the clean up crew and Dave working hard throughout the season.
Today The Friends of Claytor Lake had its 2 year Winter Retreat to focus on plans for the organization’s future, structural changes, and important issues on the horizon for Claytor Lake. The event was attended by most of FOCL’s Board of Directors and Bruce Shepherd and Ed Clayton from the BASS Federeation.