In late 2019, amid impeachment hearings and 2nd amendment sanctuary debates, it’s difficult to find consensus on many issues. But one thing we can all agree on is that government agencies, alone, are not going to fix problems like our “Doodle Dust Dilemma” right here in our backyards. It’s only through committed local residents (often led by women) working with institutional partners that these sorts of problems get identified, understood and, hopefully, solved. And that’s exactly what the Friend of Peak Creek (FoPC), founded by Vickie Houk, Sybil Atkinson and Linda and Ron Hall and currently led by Cathy Hanks, is doing. Humbly but diligently, FoPC is working in partnership with the Friends of Claytor Lake, Virginia Tech and the New River Conservancy to understand and mitigate the erosion from the Allied Chemical site and the entry of contaminants into the waterways.
A local tourism slogan tells us “Pulaski County is…outdoor recreation” and encourages visitors to check out Claytor Lake. But the quality of the water in Claytor Lake is connected to all of the waterways that run into it. Claytor Lake isn’t going to be clean unless we monitor pollution levels in Peak Creek – including heavy metals, Doodle Dust and even animal waste running off into waterways. Though it’s not on a billboard, we often hear our neighbors and friends complain that Pulaski County is also a place where historic wrongs don’t get righted and nothing ever seems to change. But FoPC provides a counter narrative, demonstrating that, even in Pulaski County, when small groups come together humbly to address local problems, change does happen. Perhaps one day we’ll see a new county slogan – “Pulaski County is…neighbors working together for a clean, healthy, just community.”
To support Friends of Peak Creek with your time or money, click here.
For more information about Doodle Dust in Pulaski, see this excellent background report by Towson University geology student, Kathleen Hohweiler.