MagazineJune 2015Shorts: Blue Ridge Briefs

Shorts: Blue Ridge Briefs

By Jedd Farris and Travis Hall

Troubled Waters in the South

Dirty rivers are running throughout the Southeast. Three regional waterways recently made a list of the country’s top 10 endangered rivers, as named annually by watchdog nonprofit American Rivers. Coming in at number three, Tennessee’s Holston River is reportedly being polluted by toxic chemicals coming from the nearby Holston Army Ammunitions Plant. According to American Rivers the plant is discharging RDX (Research Development Explosive), recognized by the EPA as a possible carcinogen and known to cause seizures if inhaled or ingested. Last fall the Tennessee Clean Water Network filed a lawsuit in an effort to get the Army to clean up the Holston, which provides drinking water to 56,000 people in Tennessee and Virginia.

For the second straight year South Carolina’s Edisto River has been named the fifth most endangered river, threatened by excessive agriculture withdrawls. South Carolina state law doesn’t require permits for agricultural water users, and American Rivers says industrial-scale farmers are taking advantage of the exemption and therefore threatening water quality and habitat. As the longest free-flowing blackwater river in the country, the Edisto runs for more than 250 miles from its headwaters between Columbia and Aiken to the Atlantic Coast, along the way serving as a popular waterway for both paddling and fishing.

Back in Tennessee, the 125-mile Harpeth River also made the list as the ninth most endangered. The river, which flows through the Nashville metro area and rapidly growing city of Franklin, is being threatened by excessive sewage and water withdrawls as more people move to this part of the state.

Carolina Rivers Expedition Launches

Royal Geographic Society fellow and explorer Julian Monroe has summited Kilimanjaro and trekked across Africa. Now he has set out to paddle the length of 32 Carolina rivers in a matter of two years. The Carolina Rivers project aims to help protect 32 beloved Southern waterways through exploration and education. “The purpose of this project is to let people know that they don’t have to travel to far off exotic places like Africa in order to be an explorer,” Fisher told me. “All you really have to do is turn a curious eye to your immediate surroundings. I can’t imagine a better place to do that than on a Carolina river.”

15 Alabama State Parks Could Close by Fall

A budget crisis could close 15 Alabama state parks by the fall. In mid April state officials announced that $11.4 million would be cut from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ 2016 budget, and the majority of it would be pulled from state parks. As a result, many favorites like Lake Lurleen and Cheaha, which holds the state’s tallest mountain, are on the chopping block.

According to reporting by the Huntsville Times, four closures were set to happen this spring, and on June 1 another five are supposed to begin reduced hours with smaller staffs. If the crisis isn’t resolved by October 1, the remaining 11 parks on the list will close.

Man Rescued Off North Carolina Coast After 66 Days at Sea

In January, 37-year-old Louis Jordan decided to go fishing, leaving Conway, S.C., in his sailboat. Sixty-six days later he was rescued by a German ship, approximately 200 miles off the North Carolina coast. So what happened to Jordan that left him stranded at sea for more than two months? According to a report by CNN, his 35-foot sailboat capsized in the Gulf Stream, leaving Jordan with a broken shoulder and his boat with a broken mast. His drenched GPS and other electronics no longer worked.

As he drifted in the ocean, Jordan at first rationed his remaining food and rigged a smaller mast and sail that offered little movement. He was eventually forced to drink rainwater and eat fish lured by the scent of his laundry. He amazingly survived and was spotted on Thursday, April 2, by the Houston express cargo ship. That evening Jordan was able to walk on his own into a hospital in Norfolk, Va. He told the cable news station: “I was utterly thankful and grateful to the people who rescued me, and I was grateful to God that my parents were not going to be worried about me.”   

Places to Go, Things to See:

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