Conservation November 2022
• Grass We had money left over from the AFTCO grant and I got permission to carry it forward this fall. All supplies have been purchased for a second grow tank at the high school. The park sign is being updated with the addition of the AFTCO Logo. This program is ongoing. We also added an AFTCO academic trail. I will complete the final accounting for this grant and submit it to AFTCO and Gene Gilliland. Carley Paven Ag teacher at Pulaski County HS or Laura Walters at FOCL are your contacts.
• AFTCO The yellow bags for trash collection at events are still available. Easy way to get conservation recognition with minimal effort. After the first of the year you will have to contact Melanie Barrow for the bags.
• Mossback and Friends of Reservoirs Grant We did not get it. Jeff Boxrucker resigned at the annual meeting and was replaced by Doug Nygren coordinator Friends of Reservoirs.
• Bass tracking I will finish this project with Wildlife Resources and Margaret and Scott.
• James and Chick Margaret Whitmore biologist. This has slowed down but contract does not expire until 2023.
• Rappahannock Scott Herrmann biologist; is just getting started and the Rappahannock is quite different from the Chick and the James.
• The town of Tappahannock has applied for a permit to expand a ramp (Hoskins Creek Landing) . I will leave Melanie to follow on this.
• Boat Ramp Wildlife resources land. A board member had asked me to look into the possibility of opening the Morris Creek ramp for more parking and enlarging the ramp. This ramp is located in a well-established wildlife management area. A good article appeared on the Wildlife digital page this week. I doubt that this ramp will ever change.
• Back Bay Boat ramp This will require approaching the land owner and then getting public support. Economic development would be a good approach to this ramp. Has better potential than Morris Creek. Region biologist is Chad Boyce.
• Lake Gaston 5 year plan Must Work with NC agencies on Lake Gaston. We are stakeholders and will require representation on the weed council committee. Meet at Dominion office near the lake.
• Claytor Lake 5 year plan on their web sites
• Smith Mountain Lake 5 year plan
• In 2023 I will be phasing out and Melanie Williams Barrow will be the new conservation director. I will be continuing to complete my involvement with the AFTCO Grant and the bass tracking that will continue for another year. I believe in finishing what I start.
• Many anglers do not know how much progress has been made in conservation in Virginia. I was the first girl member of the old Bass Federation in Virginia. I had been blackballed 6 times before a club in South Hill let me in. I almost said no but then decided that the door was open and I better walk though it before it closed. I was involved with BASS way before being allowed to join and was known by Ray Scott as the lady boar driver for ferrying Bob Cobb and Tim Miller around Buggs Island, I learned a lot from the good old boys. I became conservation director for Virginia soon after as it was a position no one wanted. No vote, no trips to the classic as these went to friends of the president and were paid for by the federation.
• When I became president in 2006, I inherited an organization in shreds. We had no money, but with the help of a few dedicated anglers Pam and Mike Bryant and I went about the task of rebuilding a much stronger organization. We reincorporated as a 501 C4 corporation in order to preserve our ability to lobby for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and others who needed our help with governmental issues. During my tenure I was able to make the conservation director a voting member of the BASS Nation board. Conservation finally had a voice. In 2019 I moved back into the conservation position when Mike Bryant became president.
• Real change started to occur when Noreen Clough became director of conservation for BASS. The partnership with Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries started to grow and grant funding started to become available for projects.
• Changes really snowballed when Gene Gilliland took over and more grant funding appeared. I was now allowed to attend the conservation Summits and develop a huge network of active conservation directors from different states. I also took advantage of available grants to fund projects in Virginia. I will complete the ongoing grant funded projects but Melanie will have to write any new ones.
• When COVID came along, the rest of the world had to live like I do every day. My digital world expanded. I will still be available to answer questions and will be working on a conservation project that is not connected to the BASS Nation. I hope that with Melanie’s leadership we will see more high school clubs request grants for conservation projects.
• I could list the hundreds of people who have supported me through many changes in our organization but I would surely miss someone. I will publically acknowledge the people who have helped me at the conservation summits. Dean Rustic, conservation director CT. Barb Elliot of New York who is best known for her fizzing skills and educational programs and who was determined to get me to the last Summit in her 1 ton pickup truck. Also to Margaret Whitmore and Clint Morgeson of Virginia Wildlife who gave me a ride back from the Summit and Mike Bednarski, Fisheries chief, Virginia for allowing them to rent a car that was my size and finally Gene Gilliland who recommended for me the Friends of Reservoirs award that I have proudly displayed in my living room and the years of excellent leadership..
• Finally, my Claytor and Smith Mountain Lakes family. John Copeland, Laura Walters, Liz Parcel and many others who adopted me. Thank you for great memories and lots of fun. I spent so much time there that people thought that I had moved.
• We have progressed forward slowly. Looking forward to a new year.
• Peace Out.
Joan Blankenship 276-340-9778