Alliance plans educational Bay Day

Published 10:34 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Elizabeth Taraski of the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance is encouraging citizens to come out and enjoy the first annual River and Creek Fest at Bennett’s Creek Park on June 2.

The Nansemond River Preservation Alliance is planning an event coinciding with Clean the Bay Day to inform citizens of efforts to preserve and improve waterways in Suffolk.

The inaugural River and Creek Fest, at Bennett’s Creek Park from 9 a.m. to noon on June 2, will include a host of informative and interactive displays and demonstrations, alliance Executive Director Elizabeth Taraski said.

“We participated in Clean the Bay Day last year at Bennett’s Creek and Chuckatuck Creek,” she said.

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But this year, the alliance will rent a shelter at Bennett’s Creek Park, where visitors can get a sense of what goes on behind the scenes to improve Suffolk’s waterways.

“A lot of community members and residents don’t get to see and experience what we’re doing, so we’re bringing that experience to them,” Taraski said.

Displays will include oyster growing, water quality testing and rain gardens.

In 2011, the alliance released a report on the health of the Nansemond, and visitors to the event can learn about how it was compiled.

“A team of volunteers has been going out on a monthly basis to collect data up and down the Nansemond River,” Taraski said.

“We’re going to show everyone what we’re doing and how we collect the data that goes into this report card.”

A critters exhibit will reveal many of the creatures that call the river home and depend on it for their survival. A soft-shell crab display will help folks “understand how important they are to this region.”

Volunteers will guide folks through the new Blue Water Trail Map, which promotes public access to Suffolk’s waterways and awareness of their history.

“It’s really for everyone to experience the water and enjoy the water, and therefore to understand that it’s their responsibility to protect the waterways, and there are many ways to do it,” Taraski said.

Last year’s report card gave the Upper Nansemond around Constant’s Wharf an F, while the waters of the Lower Nansemond, around Kings Highway near Chuckatuck, fared better.

Taraski hopes River and Creek Fest will “help protect these absolutely beautiful natural resources we have. Suffolk has some beautiful waterways and wetlands that a lot of areas in Hampton Roads don’t have.”

Meanwhile, the city of Suffolk is calling for Clean the Bay Day volunteers to help spruce up Bennett’s Creek Park, Sleepy Hole Park, Pughsville Park, U.S. Route 58 and Hosier Road.

To sign up, visit www.cbf.org/clean.