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Pamunkey River Paddle – The Pocket to Poplar Grove

pamunkey paddle dayMembers of the YRSCB Roundtable steering committee and several guests (local planners and wetlands board members) met at the Pamunkey Indian Museum on the morning of September 16 to experience the tidal freshwater marshes of the Pamunkey River. Garrie Rouse and Brad Davis of the Mattaponi Canoe and Kayak Company led us to the Reservation’s private river landing, where we were outfitted with kayaks before setting out on this sunny day at high tide.

We observed Yellow Pond Lilies at the surface, barely visible at high tide, as we paddled across the wide expanse of the “pocket”, and old river oxbow, to the opposite shore for more lessons on the plants and their adaptations in this freshwater tidal system. Arrow arum, pickerel weed and wild rice could be seen along the marsh fringe. As we sat quietly in a protected cove, we experienced the “peeps” of the secretive Sora rail during their southerly migration through the native wild rice growing along the Pamunkey’s banks.

Garrie shared with us the story of Poplar Grove, the upstream terminus of our Pamunkey paddle. Here, in the early spring of 1758, Martha Custis met George Washington during a visit of Poplar Grove’s owners. Colonel Washington was enroute to Williamsburg, crossing the Pamunkey at Williams Ferry as he often did during his travels between Mt. Vernon and Williamsburg.

As the winds picked up and the tide was going out, we leisurely paddled back to the landing for lunch and a presentation on the Scenic Rivers Program by Lynn Crump. The York Watershed is one of the last watersheds in Virginia without a designated scenic river segment.

Some members stopped by the Pamunkey Museum for a short tour of their artifacts and a chance to speak to tribal members about the area and their history. The paddlers all appreciated a chance to get out of the office and experience the resources we all work to protect in our various water quality programs.

kayaks ready
SIgnage The launch
Happy paddlers Day on the water
In the weeds Green beauty
Interpreting Foliage
Raft up Farm stop
Through the grasses Waterview
Pamunkey Tribe Old schoolhouse
Outbuilding Inside schoolhouse




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