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Run Aground:Boaters Having Trouble

August 2, 2008

By Allison Brophy Champion, Culpeper Star-Exponent, Va.

Aug. 2–Tried to get your fishing boat or canoe into Lake Pelham lately? Good luck — excessive silt at the boat launch continues to seriously hinder entry from the lake’s only public access point.

The good news is the town is willing to spend the money — an estimated $22,470 — to dredge the narrow channel leading to the western edge of Lake Pelham, accessible via a boat ramp at the end of Henretty Drive.

The bad news is that the waterway, an estimated 2,000-feet from the main lake, has to be almost completely dried out, like it was during last summer’s drought, before public works can dredge it.

At its meeting Monday, the Town Council Water and Sewer Committee recommended that the work be undertaken during the next “extended dry period.”

“The measure would be to set the money aside so when conditions were appropriate during this fiscal year we could do the work,” said Dwight Wicks, director of environmental services.

Wicks, on the job with the town since May, said the silt flows into the boat channel primarily from Mountain Run and other small inlets in and around town.

“It has accumulated over the years,” he said, “and it is something we can’t stop,” Wicks said of the gradual, and “natural” deposition of sediment in Lake Pelham, the town’s reservoir.

Wicks said the sedimentation was not “accelerated,” but something that occurred over the last five or six years.

Rainfall and water running over cleared land causes not just sedimentation, but erosion, in some cases, as well, he said.

Wicks could not quantify the exact amount of silt that is clogging the boat channel, but said, “It is so severe that we’ve got vegetation growing in areas previously covered with water.”

In fact, the channel has gotten so clogged that the environmental services department had to create a separate, temporary access point on the lake to get its boat on the lake for testing.

Overall, said Wicks, the health of Lake Pelham is good.

“It is not a sick lake by any means, but it just needs attention,” he said.

Allison Brophy Champion can be reached at 825-0771 ext. 101 or

At-A-Glance

Town sale of boating permits shows decline

Boating permits, good for two years, issued for Lake Pelham and Mountain Run Lake —

2007: 518

2008: 236

For Town residents, the boating permit costs $10; it’s $20 for out-of-town residents

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Copyright (c) 2008, Culpeper Star-Exponent, Va.

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