Little Irish Creek–celebrating freedom from diversion!

On March 5, 2023, a perfect Sunday afternoon, 14 people gathered along the banks of Little Irish Creek to celebrate! In November of 2022, the City of Lynchburg had removed the diversion pipe and its apparatus (mortar, bracings, etc.), which had been cemented into the bottom of the stream and syphoning flow from Little Irish into Lynchburg’s reservoir since the early 1960s. The permit that had allowed for the water diversion was scheduled to expire on December 31, 2022. In July of 2022, the City made the decision not to renew that permit. The people sipping sparkling cider by the banks of Little Irish Creek on March 5 had something to do with this fortunate change in Little Irish Creek’s circumstances. I first saw the absence of pipe and presence of free-flowing current in Little Irish Creek on February 24, when Scott and I drove up here to scope out a good place for people to meet on March 5. My heart leapt to see the whitewater creek roaring through waterfalls and swirling in pools, a stream doing what is was meant to do, being the lifeblood of a thriving community of plants and animals. We shared tasty snacks brought by group members, and people who had only met virtually before stood chatting happily together in the same place. I was cheered by the friendly energy in the group: people from very different walks of life getting to know each other. And I was touched by the bond between us:  our love for the Pedlar River and concern for its health and future. Most in the group live on land bordering the Pedlar and its feeder streams; most have been residents of the Pedlar River watershed for decades. All of us were warmed by the early spring sunshine and by our attachment to the common ground we were standing on: the Pedlar River watershed; the place we call home. See Shannon Brennan’s column in the News&Advance here. + In 2002, the renewal of the 20-year-permit had slipped by, unnoticed and unpublicized, only a month or two before I learned about it. I vowed to myself then that if I were still around in 2022, I would make sure this pipe was noticed and contested. As the winter of 2020 turned to 2021, I was already having discussions with fisheries biologists I knew from working with them on field trips for… Continue reading

Little Irish Creek Diversion Pipe will be Removed!

As of July 22, 2022, the City of Lynchburg has decided not to renew the permit that has historically allowed it to divert water from Little Irish Creek into the City’s reservoir. Thanks to all those who spoke out in defense of Little Irish Creek and the Pedlar River. Please leave a reply on the My Pedlar Story post and let’s begin to bring together the story of the Pedlar River watershed as seen and lived by those of us who live near it and understand its value to the world. For many decades, the City of Lynchburg has had a permit from the USDA, via the USFS, to divert water from Little Irish Creek into the Pedlar Reservoir, which is the main source of drinking water for the City. Last renewed in 2002, this 20-year permit came up for renewal in 2022. The 12″ diameter pipe is fixed in a pool of Little Irish Creek not far upstream from its confluence with the Pedlar River. Little Irish Creek is a pristine trout stream and the first stream to feed the Pedlar River below the reservoir dam. The way the pipe is situated, its opening captures the main flow of the creek at all water levels. The pipe takes the water through a hillside and across National Forest Land to the reservoir, which is located on acreage owned by the City of Lynchburg. Since the pipe has no apparatus on it to regulate how much water enters it, it diverts water all year long, regardless of season or rainfall. Since the future of Little Irish Creek affects the future of the Pedlar River, the fact that the City of Lynchburg has decided not to attempt to renew the permit is good news! Removal of the pipe will be a positive change for Little Irish Creek, the Pedlar River, people who have land adjacent to the Pedlar River, people who make use of the public lands in the watershed associated with Little Irish Creek and the Pedlar River, and everyone who lives in the lower Pedlar River watershed. DO YOU CARE ABOUT THE PEDLAR RIVER? If yes, add a reply to MY PEDLAR STORY: This is a community in the making, and the future of the lower Pedlar River depends on it! Since Little Irish Creek is within the George Washington National Forest, the USFS and its parent organization, the USDA,… Continue reading