SM (Scott Morrow): Right as far as we're at right now, we're about a, four and half miles down from the
GC: What, what do they grind there?
SM: It was corn. I think, I think the mill actually was in operation around
GC: And that was when it ended? It wasn't past that point?
SM: I don't think so, no. [pause]
GC: And over here we have these tall cliffs. Is it, does this continue pretty much all the way down?
SM: It starts to flat out, flatten a whole lot from what we just came through. Like I say there was (the outcropping) all the way down the last mile, three quarters of a mile, it's, it's real nice. It's pretty. It'll, there'll be some other little small sections but mostly it will start flattening out. The water will slow down a lot. There'll be several flat spots of water.
GC: Now tell me again how long you've been doing this?
SM: This will be my fourth year as a, outfitting. And it's done very well. If, if mother nature works with me, usually have a good, a good fall, spring. It looks like this year we're going to have a good spring. We've got plenty of water today. And hopefully we'll continue to have rain over the weeks. It will pick the water up level up higher and keep it constant. And it's kind of, we shoot for a prettier day but I, I think it's going to open up on us. It's been a different paddle today hasn't it. [laughter]
GC: And now through here, here goes the fire now.
SM: Yeah exactly. See the little briquettes work?
GC: [laughter] Tell me how you got interested in doing this. I mean you said when you were twelve, about, was when you first started paddling.
SM: Right we got to do some other local rivers, little rivers. We got to doing that, and actually started going to the mountains doing some whitewater. This several years past, and I, I had a buddy up there that he had been, he, he is, he is an outfitter in a, on the
GC: But you were around here all along.
GC: You never went away?
SM: Right exactly.
GC: What were, what if you, what were you doing up until then?
SM: Well I, I've been a truck driver all my life really and I still am. I'm still driving a truck during the week. Like I say I am flexible, you know, being able to take groups down you know mid-week and during the week and such. But it's mainly right now you know it's just a weekend deal. I do, you know, people call and I'm, I'm available. I make it where they can get on the water anytime they want to. So that kind of separates me above anybody else that you know I'm able, I've got the boats. You can actually, you can call me tonight and say you want to go paddling tomorrow and we can set it up where you can be in the water tomorrow.
SM: Because the water conditions vary so much around here that, you know, a lot of times people want to paddle it and they'll have to you know take a day off to paddle this. Which is, it's good and I would too.
GC: How do people mostly find out about your--?
SM: Well I have a website, and a, a lot of it came from the
GC: Do you think the general public has a good general, a pretty good knowledge of what resources are available here in the
SM: Yeah I think so. Like I say, there's a lot of people that use the
GC: Do you think the more people who will go in the river the better?
SM: Yeah, yeah it's going to keep the river cleaner, I think. You know the people; most of the people that I've got coming down keep the river clean. They pick up other peoples trash. We've done a little bit of that today, not as much as we needed to but. We try to make a good sweep down here once a year or two, you know getting, getting everything off the banks. And like this place right here, it's very clean.
SM: And then you notice here too, there's three or four sets of grills, that's from different groups coming down, they're putting their mark here I think. They also put nails in trees but--.
GC: But it's available, I mean if anybody wants to use it they can use it.
SM: Exactly, yeah. And this has been up for several years too. So this is, this is one of the surprisingly clean, I mean how clean it really is and it stays this way. I'm not sure, and like I say we come in, we've picked up a little bit of trash here, but not a whole lot. But that could have been washed from the river. But maybe you know, I don't know if the landowner comes down and you know checks out pretty good. But you see there's no posted signs, and you know there's some old history here too also.
GC: Do you think any of these areas will every be developed as like historic sights or something like that.
SM: I don't know. It would be nice to--. I tried to find out some information about this, the old mill and all and, and you know maybe talk to some of the people that actually bought the corn, or the corn products down here to get ground and all. And, still on that, working on that you know. And it would be neat to know to talk to somebody that actually, that was here when he was a kid you know.
GC: I should ask the people, some of the people I've been talking to.
SM: Exactly, yeah.
GC: Because they certainly remember working in the fields--.
SM: Oh yeah.
GC: You know. So they might have brought stuff down here.
SM: And that's what's weird about well, not as much here as like the in the
GC: No. Well it's sort of like, it's trees but it's not really a forest in the same way.
GC: But it's been, for the most part, hardwood all the way down that we've been coming down except when it's pine.
GC: Which is some places.
SM: Well just for example this back here behind us and all that has been clear-cut and it's probably set back in pine. There's no doubt about that.
GC: What do you think the biggest dangers for the river are I mean in terms of degrading the river. Is it, is it run-off from clear-cutting or what is it?
SM: Well that has a lot to do with it. That's, that's a lot of this tree debris that we see comes from timber cutting. There's no doubt about that, you can see that. That and the quality of the water you know is, is, you know it's, it's not like it used to be. I think those, at that one meeting I think (Buren), (Buren) who was talking about the oil and everything that comes of the trees like ( ) or whatever through the city that comes in here. I don't, I'm not really sure about how that's affected this section of the river. But like I say the
GC: Do you have good luck with fish in, in here?
SM: Oh yeah, we got a white bass in the early spring. A lot of people catch white bass. We've got some small mouth bass in here. A little bit of everything in here. It's good river to fish in.
GC: So overall right now you'd say it's pretty clean
GC: from what you can see?
SM: Exactly yes.
GC: I mean sometimes a little muddy but--.
GC: You don't see a lot of trash in it, though you see some trash on the banks I guess.
SM: Right. [pause]
GC: And tell me again about people in this com--, in the community around, right around here and how they perceive the river and, and how it should be used or not used or whatever.
SM: Well, you know, everybody has got their own opinion of things and I've talk to people that own property on this river that love what I'm doing. They have no problem with that. And new, and I also have some comments from other folks that own places here, that their is--, I think that, I don't really know how to say this, they don't want the river to populate where that they can't go out and have a good time. They think that they own some property here and they can come out and have a good time and they just don't want to see other people come through while they're on the river and you know it, it's just sad, really, because they feel that way but, but you know nothings, no real hard words or anything has been said, but just the way they say things sometimes. They think about it different.
GC: Do you think most of them, most people in this community do know who you are and what you're doing?
SM: Oh yeah, yeah.
GC: And do they regard you as from here or are you from off? [laughter]
SM: Well that, that's a good question. Actually some of them--. I am from this, this county but I am actually what you would call a foreigner since I lived fifteen miles away from here. But you know it was my point to start with on this, doing this and I said well you know, me starting this business up, and you know I would be considered as a local. You know trying to, trying to help the river do, do right for the river. And you know but sometimes I'm not.
GC: Probably by most people's standards you're a local but not by peoples here's standards.
SM: Yeah exactly, yeah the people that's against me. Or you know against you know the, not against me, but you know just against populating this area.
SM: And, and that stems from people that had other canoeists come in and trash the place. And, and they're not canoeist if they do that. That's just, people coming down with no respect for anybody the land or anything. And I, you know a bad apple you know makes it, makes it hard for everybody sometimes. We're trying to cut out that, and you know as they say my people, they pack in more than they pack out, or pack out more than they pack in rather.
GC: Right exactly.
SM: You know I furnish them with trash bags, and I give them a speech of you know, once you get there, you know, make sure everything's cleaned up real nice. Anybody else's trash please pick that up. I've got ways of disposing it, and once they get back, it all you know, goes in my vehicles and I take it to the trash dump no problem. And they really respect that, and that's great.
GC: So for that reason, that's, that's what you're saying about, really if there are more people on the river it will probably be cleaner because people will take, keep an eye out and take care of it.
SM: Exactly, exactly. It works both ways so, you know.
GC: Uh-huh. Absolutely. Do you find that it's different up here? I mean do you think there is a real difference between the community up here and the community down where you grew up?
SM: Oh yeah, all communities are different don't you think?
SM: I mean as far as you know cities and towns you know are just different. Yeah they're, there's a lot of difference in the people. It's fifteen miles away from each community to each community, it's totally different.
GC: And what, what, what do you think it is?
SM: I, I don't know. [laughter] I, I don't know that.
GC: I know it's hard to say I was just wondering.
SM: Yeah, I don't know really to tell you the truth, but there, there's a difference in the people. You know like I say a lot, a lot of people in this area support me and.
GC: Oh yeah.
SM: And like I say and the ones, they just have their differences. They're different opinions and you know I listen to all of them and I respect all of them, you know, you know. If I think it's right or wrong I still respect their opinion. You've got to. But you know, it's all, all about change. A lot of people fear that change is not good.
GC: Of any kind.
SM: Yeah exactly so.
GC: How many times a year do you think you come down the river,
SM: I paddle it personally?
GC: Yeah, well yeah, yeah.
SM: At least thirty to forty times a year I paddle it. And that's not you know like, like I say most of my groups I've put down by their selves. And there's kind of, give them a little detailed map of whatever they're going to run. Where to stop and all, and I'll pick them up so. I think last year I put in around 250 around 275 people. And that was, that was just spring. See I put nobody in, in the fall because there wasn't any water.
GC: Or in the summer?
SM: Yeah exactly, yeah we paddled this until the water ran out around, about the middle of May. The middle of May to June when it really just started, it went and really never picked back up.
GC: Do you think that's been getting worse year by year?
SM: Well it has for the last for years, and that's because of rainfall in this area. It's hard to really tell and judge right now on if, if it was steady rains all the time you could see how the water dropped and all. Like I say there's run off now from a lot of the, the logging in this area. All the water runs off at one time and then it quits. Versus you know if there was trees you know you'd have the little branches streams all the time just feeding. Now everything, it misses that and just comes right off into the river. That's another, that's another story that, you can hear other sides to that too but that's what my, what I, I believe.
GC: Yeah, so basically you're saying, having the land cleared affects the pattern of the water because it comes in all at once and then it stops.
SM: Exactly. Exactly.
GC: So it fluctuates a lot more.
SM: Very, yeah, exactly.
GC: Right, that's interesting.
SM: You know most of the time you can depend on the water you get, it used to you know, once it got up to two, two and a half foot, you'd have that water there for a week and sometimes man it just drops real quick. And like I say, a lot of it depends on the north of here,
GC: Right, that, right so this makes it harder to predict.
GC: So you have to cancel sometimes and things like that.
SM: Yeah, well what we do is we try to go to the flat-water sections and the lower sections of the
GC: Yeah, well it's nice, yeah. I mean it's nice to do it when there's, where there's not boat traffic I mean. That's ideal for canoeing I guess. Then I guess there can't be any boat traffic on this--,
GC: down 'til that point so. And then it flows into?
SM: Yeah the
GC: So they can bring their boats up that far from the land.
SM: Exactly yeah about a half mile, three quarters up the lake in here. That's when it gets deep, widens up and gets very deep.
GC: Would you say that you go down this river more than anybody else? Is that your guess?
SM: Oh I don't know about that. There's a lot of guys this fish this river. I mean they're, they're in the water a lot of weekends back to back. Like I say with my other rivers over there like the
GC: Where do you put in, in the
SM: That river sections at
GC: Oh OK. Is that, that's the same
SM: Yeah it runs through
GC: Right, that's right behind
SM: Yeah, yeah exactly. Yeah you probably cross, crossed it on
GC: Yeah. Yeah I cross it all the time, and, and our creek behind our house flows into it
GC: up there. [pause]
SM: I'm surprised we haven't had anybody sliding in behind us today.
GC: I know, no one at all.
SM: Like I say, it wasn't, as far as I know there wasn't but two boats on the river yesterday.
GC: Well people got deterred by the rain.
SM: Yeah exactly. [laughter]
GC: But not us.
SM: [laughter] This turned out to be a pretty decent day though, I mean
GC: Yeah right. No, it's great
SM: it's rained on us a little bit but, I think it's going to fair off on us.
GC: And often when it's clear it's colder.
SM: Yeah exactly.
GC: Or in the winter.
GC: What do you think, what would you like to see in the future for this river? I mean, in other words if you can envision how it could be the way you'd want it to be.
SM: Stay it as it is right now. I would, I mean I know I'd, I would like to see, I'd like to paddle this section of the river and not see a bunch of houses developments on it. That, that I think that worries me the most of anything, that what's going to happen to this place.
GC: Do you think there's a risk of a good bit of housing development?
SM: I think there is yeah. I think there are. Once you know a lot of this land is clear-cut you're going to start seeing where they're going to set up plots, or lots of, you know acreage there you know. Twenty acre lots for such and then that's--. I think this river is going to really change in ten years.
GC: Because a lot more people will be moving to it.
GC: Do you think people are moving to this area? I mean is the pop--?
SM: I don't think as much as move here as like buying lots here and eventually going to build here. And you know--.
GC: And it would be like their second home or--?
SM: Maybe, I don't know.
GC: Or they would commute somewhere?
SM: It's possible to commute. We're not very far from
GC: I guess not.
GC: Yeah too far for me to commute but maybe somebody would think they could.
SM: Exactly, yeah. Yeah if this river stays like it is now that would be a great advantage. It's a real, it's a nice river.
GC: Do you think there is any kind of development that would be good for the river, I mean like bringing like, you know tourism or anything like that.
SM: Well yeah. I mean you know if you have camp grounds and such around here would be nice. That would be good. That would help you know keep the river as it is.
GC: So basically it's good if the river attracts attention but not residents?
SM: Yeah exactly.
GC: So visitors are good but--.
SM: Yeah, well they're.
GC: And if there are facilities for those visitors then that's probably a good thing.
SM: Yeah and that's the thing of it is, you know, once you get a lot of houses and all here it's just not the same river. It's just, you're now seeing a lot of rivers in the western part of the state. You know the rivers just get so much development. It's like you're going down a city street really. [laughter] I mean you know.
GC: It's true. Yeah and then the reason that people come here now will be gone.
SM: Exactly. Exactly right.
GC: So what do you, do you think there is anything that can be done at this point to prevent too much of that?
SM: I have no idea. You're the man that's supposed to know that. [laughter]
GC: I don't know either.
SM: Hopefully when groups get together I think now has been a big change you know since you know
GC: So you think it's really about the community coming together to make a decision?
SM: Exactly yes, I would think that.
GC: And the
SM: Well yeah, they, they have brought a lot of people together.
GC: Well I'm not saying that necessarily their sewage plan is, but I'm saying the, the community movement--.
SM: Yeah, yeah it built a spark. It actually built a spark in this area that needed, that that's what we need really.
GC: Get people riled up and then they'll start thinking about it.
SM: Yeah, exactly right. [laughter] Exactly right.
GC: So what are your plans? I mean do you plan to just keep on doing this indefinitely or--?
SM: Oh yeah, yeah my love for the river man is just, it's kind of a, a hobby/part time job. It's really good to put people in the water and to have a great time. And it's a good feeling when they come out of the water, you know, and they go, "Man, you know, we didn't know this was this close to home." You know just out of
GC: Yeah a long way.
SM: Just to do paddling, just like this. I mean do the smaller, the slower sections. It's right here at the back door. It's not but you know an hour ride.
GC: Yeah so you're making people happy.
SM: Enjoying and showing them about this river and, and as you know this is supposed to be one of the oldest mountain chains in
GC: So do you think maybe you're helping to build support for protecting this region by getting people out to see what's actually out here?
SM: I think so, yeah.
GC: Public education in a way.
GC: And you bring kids out?
SM: Oh yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. We've had, well, we've dealt over five and over. That's about it. Well you know if the water is lower in the summertime, and it's warm, that's the parents decision to do whatever they bring, but like today it would be kind of a cold swim for a youngin'. [laughter]
GC: But, I mean do they ever, do they ever have like school groups or anything?
SM: Yeah I have youth groups, church youth groups,
GC: And do you find that kids, have an appreciation, I mean do they seem to be appreciating?
SM: Oh yeah and, and you've got--, END TAPE 1, SIDE A START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B
GC: and when you've got a bunch of kids together you're going to find there are some, there several on that would rather be home playing Nintendo or you know the Play Station or whatever and, and you try to really work with them you know to pick them up, but yeah you see a lot of kids that really, really enjoy it. And you know one day they're going, they're going to come back and paddle this. There's no doubt in my mind that I can see in a lot of them that they're going to come back and do this. And that's cool to you know.
GC: Yeah it's so important at that young age.
GC: I mean like it happened to you.
GC: I mean if you got the appreciation when you were a kid. So what, I mean did your family come out, I mean when you were young, when you were growing up was your family into this stuff too?
GC: I mean you said your cousin.
SM: Yeah my cousin yeah, he'd done a lot of fishing and such on the rivers and he you know, he turned me on to that, that's pretty cool.
GC: What, what company do you, I mean what kind of driving do you do?
GC: I mean right, but I mean--.
SM: I work for a farm.
GC: Oh Ok. So it's, it's local it doesn't take you too far away.
SM: No, we'll run a little bit of
GC: What, what's happening to them , where, what are they going for? I mean what, what are they used for in Kershaw?
SM: They're ground up into mill. It goes, it goes into poultry feed. Like
GC: And that's just where they have the mill for that.
SM: Exactly yes,
GC: So you've started working with some people in that area?
SM: Yeah some of the local people down there that, that just take it for granted. You know, just take it for granted.
GC: Do you think that, that in the past people had a more appreciation of the place and that they lost it, or do you think that people never had it basically and they are just are learning it for the first time?
SM: I think they are learning it now for the first time. Like I say, you know years ago especially down on the southern part, the eastern part of this county, well the same as this northern part of the county, people would go at a bridge and they'd just jump, trash the washing machines out. You see that in the mountains a lot too, I mean you know cars and stuff just lined up on the riverbank, and I think people now is actually beginning to understand, you know that, that, that that's not the thing to do. It's just a lot of people just don't know any different really. I mean they just think that well there's no problem, but it is a problem.
GC: Well and I guess in the, if you get back far enough people just didn't have as much stuff.
SM: Well, well that's true too. But, and another thing they didn't have the disposal you know, like communities like this area up here, they was, the old house places you just had, you cut a ditch or something and that's where you throw your trash at. And now there's several places around, around my home place that that's what they've done before you know they started landfills and such and then.
GC: It's just their own landfill.
SM: Yeah, exactly. But that's the way it was done back in the old days.
SM: And, and a lot of people have come down through the generations still thinking that, you know.
GC: Yeah. [pause] What about the farms I mean, are there any farms on this, on the
SM: Uh just, the
GC: Do you think there used to be more?
SM: Yeah. I'm sure there was, yeah.
GC: There must have been some.
SM: You know you, you have some farms raise small acreages of corn and such but It's nothing like the Southeastern part of the county when you know you're farming thousands and thousands of acres. Although that's dwindled out up here.
GC: Right, and I guess it wouldn't have been much right by the river anyway because it's kind of hard terrain to farm I think.
SM: Yeah, well you know there are some flat areas right here, it's the same like on the
GC: Uh-hum. They've got a big floodplain.
GC: What's the highest you've ever seen the water here?
SM: I've seen marks out that went over this back right here.
GC: Really. Wow.
SM: It you're familiar with the
GC: I, I, I have crossed it but I can't picture it right now.
SM: That's the only
SM: I haven't seen that much water in that river in several years because of the drought too. But that's something to see. That really cleans the river out too, all the tree debris. That's why you see so much tree debris now. Over the last four years the water hadn't got up much. It hadn't flushed the end of
GC: Uh-huh. Where do you think all that tree debris is coming from. Like that, clogged up back up there?
SM: I think a lot of it's coming from clear-cuts.
GC: Clear-cuts, just washing down.
SM: Yeah. A lot of it is. [pause]
GC: So I mean would you, you would favor putting more, I mean doing more with people keeping the buffers and--?
SM: Exactly I think the buffer zone needs to be extended out maybe at least three times. That's what my theory is. You know, like I say they cut through this section right here. Well, once the big wind comes it's all going to push towards the river and every tree that's here eventually is going to fall towards the river. And like I say it's a pretty nice place here now but starting, these trees start dropping down it's going to get kind of nasty through here.
GC: Yeah well, should we keep on moving or--?
SM: Yeah we'll, we'll step up here.
GC: Yeah let's look at that place.
SM: So you can take some pictures. PAUSE IN INTERVIEW
GC: We're at a shared stopping place, fireplace, it's private but anybody can use.