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Started by Al, February 07, 2007, 22:26:57 PM
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The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE), along with the Smith River Chapter, Trout Unlimited (SRTU) and other Philpott/Smith River 216 Study "Stakeholders" will hold a public meeting from 7-9pm on March 7, 2007 at the Henry County Administrative Complex, Board Meeting Room in Martinsville, VA.
The purpose of the meeting is to inform the public of the current status of the Philpott/Smith River 216 Study and to gauge community support for continuation of efforts tie the Philpott Reservoir and the Smith River to ecotourism.
The recently completed VDGIF & VA Tech Study and it's subsequent recommendations triggered the COE Philpott/Smith River 216 Study which is essentially a detailed look at the entire waterway and what effect any changes to the operation of the Philpott Dam will have on the system.
A lot of progress has been made in the past few years. We were able to turn around a decision to switch from a weekly to a daily, and often hourly, announcement of the generation schedule. This daily generation announcement essentially killed the economic value of the fishery because fishermen could not count on being able to fish when they were subjected to a "spur of the moment" schedule. Kudos to the COE and Dominion Virginia Power (DOM) for siding with the community on that one.
Kudos once again to the COE & DOM for implementing a key VDGIF & VA Tech recommendation of staggering the start up and shut down of turbines to reduce the shear effect of a sudden surge of water coursing down the river bed and roiling everything in its path. They also consented to a test period of weekend generation last summer to cool the water temperatures in down stream areas which previously had heated to the point of stressing the fish. We are hopeful that they will continue the weekend generation schedule again this summer.
Before much more can be done, VDGIF and the COE would like to assess the level of interest in the local and surrounding community. Without a strong showing of support there is a very real danger that efforts to improve the ecotourism value of the Philpot/Smith River system will die on the vine.
I have been privileged to have participated in the VDGIF & VA Tech study and have been designated as one of the "stakeholders" by the COE. I have always shared what I learn about the fishery with anyone who is willing to listen. It has gone from being a "great" fishery, to a "good" fishery. If we are to believe the recent study, it is still on a slow decline. The study also points out that steps can be taken to arrest and perhaps even reverse that decline. I urge each and everyone of you to attend this very important meeting on March 7, 2007
Do you have to be a resident of VA to participate?
Quote from: troutphisher on February 07, 2007, 22:43:24 PMAL,Do you have to be a resident of VA to participate?
AL,Do you have to be a resident of VA to participate?
The VDGIF recognizes that the Smith River gets a lot of play from south of the boarder, ie NC fishermen. Those are exactly the folks that the Bassett, Collinsville and Martinsville community hope to attract in their tourism efforts.
Several folks have already asked about the meeting location. Here is a map link to place you in vicinity. http://maps.infospace.com/_1_N51TCV02RLN37G__info.elink/kevmap?OP=GeoCode&OTMPL=kevmap2/mapresults.htm&qa=3300+Kings+Mountain+Road&qc=Martinsville&qs=va&ver=3859
The Henry Cty Admin Complex is off Kings Mountain Road (Hwy 174) which can be accessed from Business 220 in Collinsville. Very modern looking set of concrete/stucco buildings on your left coming from 220. Signs point out complex.
I can't emphasize enough how important it is that we have a good showing at this meeting. As we have seen in the past, the thing that gets government officials attention is concern from the voting public. We are talking Federal Officials here, so it does not make any difference if you're from VA or NC, you still count. The VA folks will also be impressed if there is a strong showing from south of the boarder.
I have already been given a heads up about a change that is not going to go well with you folks o-o . Sorry, I can't divulge it at this time or they won't invite me to any more meetings. All I can say is if you want to register your displeasure and perhaps turn it around you had better attend the meeting at 7pm, Wed, Mar 7th, Henry Cty Admin Complex Meeting Rm
Having just put my "you know what" in a wringer with the above revelation, I need to also say that the fact that we are having these meetings at all speaks well of everyone involved. At least we are talking. Unfortunately just about all the easy lifting is done, now we need $$ to move further ahead. We need your help in making sure $$ is made available
would love to hear how the meeting went.. i wanted make the trip but with having a job that 2.5 hours from the smith.. i would not have been there till after 9:30 or so
Quote from: lepomis_mcro on March 07, 2007, 20:44:50 PMwould love to hear how the meeting went.. i wanted make the trip but with having a job that 2.5 hours from the smith.. i would not have been there till after 9:30 or so
"At least were are talking now."
"Why can't we shut down generation for six Wednesday's during the sulphur hatch?"
I'm sure Al will give us a full recap when he gets a chance, I think he's fishing the Smith tomorrow....
Here is link to story about the meeting which is in yesterdays and todays Martinsville Bulletin
It is a good summary.
My thanks to all who attended. We packed the house and there were some good thought provoking questions. I think we can still get somethings done while the study is slowly moving along.
I am busy putting out other "fires" right now. Will try to give my take on the meeting later on today.
Here is my take on what happened at "stakeholders" meeting which was held in the afternoon of March 7, 2007 and the public meeting that same evening.
This meeting was attended by a very large contingent of USACE personnel to include Colonel John Pulliam, the Commander and District Engineer of the Wilmington District, which oversees the operation of Philpott Dam. Colonel Pulliam welcomed us all and set the tone for the meeting. He also interceded and made some USACE decisions when things tended to get bogged down in administrative minutiae.
Colonel Pulliam and his deputy, Christine Brayman, along with several other USACE personnel were quite adamant in stating that flood control and power generation were the original and most important purposes of the Philpott Dam. These two purposes were mandated by Congress and it will take another act of Congress to change them.
Section 216 is a joint or collaborative study process with responsibility for direction and funding shared between the Federal Government and The Commonwealth of Virginia. In laymen's terms, before any significant changes can be made to the current operation of the Philpott Dam, the Federal Government requires a comprehensive study, known as a 216 Study, to determine what is realistically possible and what any change will have on the rest of the system - Any party that might be affected has a stake in the process, hence the term "stakeholders".
The 216 Study is basically to see if the operation of the dam, i.e. the rules or operating procedures of the dam should be changed. It does not address the obvious need to change the +50 year old turbines or any other capital improvements to the dam. Any large capital improvement recommendations which may come out of this study would most likely trigger another study.
Working groups have been formed or are in the process of being formed based on several broad categories, i.e., Natural and Recreation Resources; Operating Policies and Administrative Procedures; Water Quality; Water Supply; Aesthetics; Shoreline Management and Erosion. Primary members of one working group may also serve on and share information with other working groups.
Planning and management of the study will center around three individuals, all of whom should be included in any and all comments, suggestions, etc which you may send them. They are: Richard Lewis richard.h.lewis@USACE.Army.Mil , Ben Lane Ben.Lane@saw02.usace.army.mil and Bud LaRoche firstname.lastname@example.org
It was estimated that the entire study will cost 2.5 million dollars. Half of that cost will come from the Federal Government and half from The Commonwealth of Virginia. The majority of The Commonwealth of Virginia's share can be credited to "work in kind". In the best case scenario the study would take a total of four years. Unfortunately to date there has been very little money allocated to the project. (I think only 130K over the past 3-4 years). It is unknown what money, if any, will be allocated for FY2007.
The "stakeholders" meeting concluded with discussion of the need for public involvement. This is an open and transparent process. There is also a very obvious need for public support when it comes to funding of the project.
There will be a Philpott Section 216 Feasibility Study Web Page up and running by early next week. I will provide a link as soon as I receive it.
Here are links to stories about the meeting which are in March 7th and March 8th issues of the Martinsville Bulletin - They are a good summary.
As might be expected we were sweating bullets concerning the attendance at the meeting. At 6:45pm there were only a handful seated, but they started flowing in as 7 o'clock approached. We held off a few moments while late comers found a seat and they still kept coming. The newspapers says 135 and I agree. We filled all the seats and there was a fairly large group standing in back.
Ben Lane from the USACE deserves a Purple Heart for all the bullets and arrows sent his way. The citizens for the most part asked thought provoking questions. A few went over the edge and, as at all public forums, there were some who appear to be enamored with the sound of their own voices. Ben did yeomen's duty in handling them all.
There was a lot of frustration with the need for another study and the glacial pace of the study. I share that frustration but I have also come to the conclusion that the only way we will move the main players, i.e. the Federal Government, is to conduct this study which will look at all aspects of the problem to ensure that any changes that might be made, do not have an unusually adverse effect on someone or something else.
There were a few specific suggestions from the floor. I stayed around after the meeting to talk with key folks from the USACE whom I now have a fairly good working relationship with and they said, "you know, that suggestion about ......, maybe we can take a look at that". I like that attitude. We, the fishermen will never get everything we want, but I don't think anyone expected we would. We can't even agree upon some of the things we want. I'm privileged to be one of the designated "stakeholders" on the Natural and Recreation Resources Working Group and I will work in your best interest. If you have ideas, concerns, suggestions, etc, please share them with me. You can reach me at email@example.com or call (910) 868-6235
Thanks for all of your work on this Al, you can call on me to help where I can. It's sad to see that fisher diminish, it may never be what it was but we know it can be a lot better than it is now.