Day 2 AM: Your Neuse Riverkeeper Sam Krop talks development, sediment, and erosion in front of a small tributary of the Neuse in Johnston County.
EVENING UPDATE, DAY 2:
We just ended our second day of the Neuse River Rising paddle at Richardson Bridge wildlife boat ramp, where we pulled out of the water on a muddy dock to spend the next few days riding out Hurricane Ian in the safety of a hotel. While there was no doubt we had to abandon our boats during the tropical storm weather—safety is our first priority on the water—we were certainly sad to get off river. Our paddle today was another beautiful journey through wilderness backcountry. Today on the water we saw many turtles, kingfishers, hawks and a small river snake even surprised us by falling from an overhanging limb into one of our boats to say hello. Once again, the creatures of the Neuse were out in force, all around.
On today’s paddle, we also observed problems that threaten the health of the river. Our first stop of the morning was at the property of locals in the Brogden Bottomlands, where we stopped to pick up water from the property owners, who kindly left it to sustain us for the rest of the day’s journey. We managed to get the water in our kayaks after scrambling up a steep bank and ending up knee-deep in mud, and meanwhile couldn’t help but observe the steep slopes and undercut banks of the river. Erosion is a big problem on the Neuse River, and issues like development that transform forested lands to impermeable surfaces like concrete and rooftops contribute to that problem by adding more stormwater runoff to streams, increasing water flow and causing banks to collapse. The locals who helped us with water are among many in the area who are fighting an onslaught of new developments that are changing the landscape of the remote Let’Lones forever.
We could see the impacts of erosion in many other places in our journey along the river today. In some places, where people tried to combat erosion by throwing concrete bags and cinderblocks along the banks, we could see these materials slowly eroding and falling into the river. Passing all this, we discussed all the ways not to try to prevent erosion — cinderblocks, tires, etc. — and also all the creative and effective ways we can do better — most important of which is to keep green space intact.
We paddled the last few miles of our journey today with heavy winds increasing, reminding us that however beautiful, getting off the river is the right call for safety. We’ll keep watching the weather and plan to get back on the water to resume our journey as soon as it’s safe to do so. Stay tuned for what’s next!