Virginia youth club adds habitat

MONETA, Va. — What started as a simple plan to add habitat turned into a long exercise in patience.

Members of the Henry County Junior Anglers finally got to submerge the spider blocks in Smith Mountain Lake that they’ve been holding onto for two years.

“They made the blocks in 2010 and then hit a roadblock they hadn’t anticipated,” explained Joan Blankenship, conservation director for the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation of Virginia. “Getting the necessary permits looked like a simple procedure when the idea was first proposed. It took from 2010 until 2012 to complete the permitting process, and then they had to get permission from Appalachian Power Company (APCo.).

“For a while, it looked as if this project would never happen,” said Blankenship.

“GPS coordinates for the blocks had to be provided to APCo. and, thanks to a last-minute push from Liz Parcel, plant coordinator of hydro generation at the Rocky Mount Virginia Service Center, the process was completed,” Blankenship continued. “Lowrance HDS8 with down-imaging was used for this process. In addition, two engineers for APCo., Ken Stump and Mark McGlothlin, provided additional support with GPS coordinates for the blocks.”

Mike Bryant, president of the Virginia chapter, had been storing the blocks in the parking lot of his business in Martinsville, Va., for the last two years. When the day finally came, multiple volunteers got up at 3 a.m. to meet at Smith Mountain Lake. Among them were Bryant, David Alley, Jeff Smith, Bill Goots (Region 5 director), Ed Clayton (Region 10 director) and Beverly Cooper, youth director for the Henry County Junior Anglers. Junior volunteers were Daniel Cooper, Jacob Cooper, Hunter Phillips, Devin Joyce and Travis Lawson.

The conservation project for the junior angler club members turned into a major lesson, said Blankenship, “in regulations, environmental issues pertaining to placement at the proper water depth, GPS use in locating the predetermined coordinates and water safety in lowering the blocks into the water.”