Outdoor Corner: Project River Clean Up

Lyle Johnson
Canaan holds the limit of rainbow trout we caught in Montgomery Reservoir.

There are a lot of things about an Amite River flood that wreaks havoc on our communities: the high water damage, inconvenience of flooded roads, possible fish kills, and maybe even loss of life.

Our family had a camp on Chinquapin Canal (Roy Marchand Camp, which my grandfather built) since I was six years old. I now live on the Diversion Canal so I've had the opportunity to experience every flood since around 1959.

The Amite River and its Basin originates in Amite County, Mississippi with two forks (East and West) and flows downstream to Lake Maurepas for 117 miles through East Feliciana, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge, Ascension, and Livingston parishes.

There is another phenomenon that takes place that has boggled my mind during every one of them: the trash that floats downstream. There is a 75-foot sea level drop from its origin to Lake Maurepas that is the cause of this phenomenon.

I watch it from my pier now, but I used to see it from the Diversion near Blind River back in the day when my daddy, Jerry Lyle used to fish trot lines and had to pick them up before the water broke them and we'd lose everything.

First, there are the dead trees and associated logs and branches. You know, the natural stuff. The water rises for miles and miles into wooded areas, floats the wood up, and sends it on its way down the river. It literally comes down by the ton. You can't totally understand it unless you witness it with your own eyes. This makes up about 60 percent of the load.

The next 40 percent of this high water extravaganza comes in the form of human-caused debris. Some of it is unintended as someone might underestimate the level of flooding or might not have time to pick things up, but most of it is just plain litter at the highest levels.

The big items are refrigerators, freezers, ice chests, propane bottles, tires, basketballs, footballs, volley balls, soccer balls, even an occasional boat might come by. The list goes on and on. But the sickening thing is the plastic, glass, and styrofoam. It blows my mind. You would think it would run out but the supply seems eternal.

I often imagined what it would take to clean it all up and the ways it might be done. Well somebody finally came up with an idea and along with some unexpected support, the "Project River Clean Up" was born.

"Project River Clean Up" is the brain child of Rachel Deaton. On August 10 there will be a River Clean Up day. The river will be broken up into sections and teams will be formed to focus on the areas that will be mapped out.

There will be sign-in locations at some of the major launching areas (the main one being Fred's on the River). Rachel will provide as many garbage bags and supplies as possible but obviously bring your own if you can.

Multiple restaurants and bars have offered to be stopping points with dumpsters and waters for those participating. For larger items the group will provide buoys you can tie to them and a barge will come around and pick them up, this includes logs obstructing the waterways.

A fishing net is strongly recommended to help get things out of the water. When you sign in you'll receive a ticket so make sure to hold onto that as it will give you access to dinner at Fred's on the River for the after party. Anyone who participates gets to eat some delish food, but everyone can hang around for the band!

Donations are also being taken to help cover the cost of the dumpsters and supplies. If you can't help the day of this project, a much-needed donation is still a fantastic way to contribute. Donations can be made at https://www.paypal.me/projectrivercleanup, and https://tinyurl.com/yxm5epw7 is the link to register for volunteering.

How did all this come about? Rachel was on Facebook and saw someone talking about all of the trash and debris on the river, especially the small beaches. A passing thought in her mind said well someone should do a river clean up. Lots of people started showing an interest so Deaton started trying to plan a daunting task. That's when John Templet reached out to help her really get this going.

The hardest part of this type of project is getting folks on board. "It's actually been really easy," stated Deaton. "People are so eager to get this ball rolling because people know how desperately the river needs to be cleaned and maintained."

The ball got really rolling as even local government sources jumped on the river cleaning train. "Both Livingston and Ascension Parish Waterway Commissions along with Livingston and Ascension Parish Sherriff's Offices, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Homeland Security, and other parish officials will be helping us out," Rachel said. "We have an official confirmation that Congressman Garret Graves will be attending as well, so please come see him at Fred's at the 9 a.m. kick-off."

Rachel Deaton is very pleased with the early outcome as the committee has really done an amazing job and helping her pull this together. "Please, please, please register online beforehand at https://tinyurl.com/yxm5epw7." pleaded Rachel. "If you're wanting to come out and help, the volunteer meeting is August 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Fred's on the River.

"At this point that's when you'll meet your team leaders for the section of the river you'll work, and I'll of course be sending an email to everyone who registers online with a list of things we suggest they have in the boat and all the important info."

If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact Rachel Deaton at 225-503-6005, or email her at projectrivercleanup@yahoo.com.

Next, just a reminder, the East Ascension Sportsman’s League Kid's Fishing Rodeo will be held at Twin Lakes in Dutchtown on Saturday. The registration takes place from 6:30 - 7 a.m. The fishing cranks up at 7 a.m. with vehicle horns blowing. Horns will signify the end at 9 a.m. All the info can be found at www.easlonline.org.

We just returned from vacationing in Breckenridge, Colorado visiting family. We were treated to a vast amount of wildlife on our drive there and back. We saw wild turkeys, road runners, fox, moose, hundreds of pronghorn antelope and bison, as well as mule deer, and two bull elk.

My grandson, Canaan Watts and I took the opportunity to fish for rainbow trout in Montgomery Reservoir. We caught 13 and that allowed us to keep our limit of four each. We used spinners and night crawlers. It was a great trip. Until next time remember to keep the slack out, and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe, and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net.

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman's League meeting held at Gonzales Fire Dept on Orice Roth Road. starting at 7 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Wednesday Evening Bass Tourney: Every Wednesday at Canal Bank from 5 p.m. until dark. Fee $40/boat, one time registration fee of $40 going toward the Classic Tournament. Weekly event through spring, summer. Call Canal Bank for information. 225-695-9074

CCA Louisiana S.T.A.R. Fishing Rodeo: May 25 thru Sept 2 summer-long CCA Louisiana saltwater fishing event. Tagged Redfish, Offshore, Inshore, Ladies & Children's divisions. Registration required. Must be CCA member. Website: ccastar.com.

EASL Kid's Fishing Rodeo: July 27 at Twin Lakes in Dutchtown. Registration at 6:30 a.m., fish from 7:00 to 9:00 weigh-in after. Door prizes for all kids, bike giveaways, trophies, donuts, hot dogs and jambalaya. Open to the public and there is no charge. All info at www.easlonline.org

Ascension Area Anglers Open Tournament: August 17 @ Doiron's Landing in Stevensville. Pick your partner, entry fee $100 per team, 75 percent payback. Application available at www.fishingfortucker.com. Call Ryan Lavigne for info 225-921-9332.

Ride the Bull Extreme Kayak Redfish Tournament: August 23 & 24 taking place at Bridgeside Marina in Grand Isle. Sponsored by CCA Louisiana. For all the info & registration so to www.ccalouisiana.com.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net