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Small Virginia town at war with Boy Scouts of America over summer camp that ‘trashes’ their beloved river

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A small Virginia town is at war with Boy Scouts of America over a summer camp that ‘trashes’ its river and turns it brown every year. 

Locals who live around the Maury River near the western border of the state say that each summer, the National Capital Council of the Boy Scouts drains nearby Lake Merriweather each fall, which then causes sediment to rush into the Maury.

This impacts hikers, kayakers, fishers, and swimmers who like to visit until the weather really changes – and critics claims it’s damaging the eco-system.

John Pancake, a local who grew up spending his summers on the Maury says he is ‘heartbroken that the river turned dirty during the summer when people spend their time on the river banks.

‘It’s a thing that people love here, and so having it kind of wrecked was a really sad thing for people here,’ he told Fox Digital.

Residents around the Maury River near the western border of the state say that every summer, the National Capital Council of the Boy Scouts drains nearby Lake Merriweather, which then causes sediment to rush into the Maury

Residents around the Maury River near the western border of the state say that every summer, the National Capital Council of the Boy Scouts drains nearby Lake Merriweather, which then causes sediment to rush into the Maury

The Washington Post spoke with the council’s director of support services, who said that it is important for Lake Merriweather to be drained periodically so its dam, which protects the properties of thousands, can be maintained.

Pancake is currently a part of the Maury River Alliance, a local group that formed in response to concerns about the sediment build up and the damage it is doing to their river.

‘I’ve been on this river for all my life, more than 70 years, and the sediment has changed the river. I’ve been on this river for all my life, more than 70 years, and the sediment has changed the river,’ he said.

The increased amount of sediment flowing downstream has been something of a concern for decades, but in the last few years, it has increased to an amount that makes it hard, if not impossible, to maintain healthy aquatic life.

‘There just aren’t the variety of fish that had been there. There aren’t the variety of birds that there had been,’ Linda Larsen, who has frequented the river for more than three decades, told Fox.

‘There is now this blanket of sediment that is covering the riverbed. So, all of these animals, these very small little insects and animals that are necessary for the life and eco-cycle of the river, are being killed.’

'I've been on this river for all my life, more than 70 years, and the sediment has changed the river. I've been on this river for all my life, more than 70 years, and the sediment has changed the river,' said area resident John Pancake (pictured)

‘I’ve been on this river for all my life, more than 70 years, and the sediment has changed the river. I’ve been on this river for all my life, more than 70 years, and the sediment has changed the river,’ said area resident John Pancake (pictured)

The river community would like to see the Boy Scouts work with them to protect the river and attempt to reverse the slow death it is currently experiencing

The river community would like to see the Boy Scouts work with them to protect the river and attempt to reverse the slow death it is currently experiencing

No one believes the fault lies with the Boy Scout campers, or with the national organization, rather the council that determines the lake's drainage schedule

No one believes the fault lies with the Boy Scout campers, or with the national organization, rather the council that determines the lake’s drainage schedule

Larsen too pinned the issue on the National Capital Area Council of the Scouts.

‘It has nothing to do with the children. It has nothing to do with the national organization. It has to do only with the council that owns the property that is allowing this pollution to continue to occur on the Maury River,’ she said.

‘The owners and operators of the camp have not treated the river as they should. I think they could do a better job of protecting the river, and I hope that they will start doing that, because I feel that that is very much in the philosophy of their organization.’

The river community would like to see the organization work with them to protect the river and attempt to reverse the slow death it is currently experiencing. 

They have called on the group to come to the negotiation table and walk away committed to a plan for improving the Maury’s water quality.

Boy Scouts of America recently changed name to Scouting America after 114 years to ‘boost inclusion’ in the wake of a series of scandals.



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