Loudoun County, Virginia, October 2007
October 1, 2007 -- Richmond – Virginia
Governor Timothy M. Kaine has requested that the Secretary
of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
declare Virginia a statewide disaster area due to
reductions in farm production caused by drought and high
temperatures in 2007. A statewide designation would make
farmers with qualifying losses throughout Virginia eligible
for low-interest loans and any supplemental relief that may
be provided by Congress.
“This is an extraordinary year for Virginia,” said
Governor Kaine. “We have never sought a statewide drought
disaster designation before. This year’s drought is so
pervasive, however, that we decided to act on behalf of the
For the past few years I fished at Beaverdam Reservoir in
Loudoun County, VA, from my kayak. The reservoir covers 275
acres and holds 1.3 billion gallons of water. It's a hidden
gem because few people knew about it and unless you had a
kayak or small canoe you could not access the water to fish
the shallow beds or deep drop offs. The shoreline supported
a thick growth of water grasses that shelterd a healthy
population of largemouth bass, sunfish, bluegills, catfish,
carp and tons of baitfish, frogs and insects. The reservoir
was even rumored to have hybrid striped bass, and although
I've never caught one the local state Fish and Game officer
who patrols here told me the fish are there and have been
caught by other anglers working the deeper water.
My kayak is outfitted with a color depth/fish finder and
I've registered 62 feet of water as the deepest point in
the middle of the reservoir. The shoreline depths are
shallow at three feet deep, gradually sloping off to deeper
water. There is very little structure on the bottom except
for an old steel frame bridge that was covered when the
stream it spanned was dammed off to create this reservoir.
But now things have changed.
I returned to the reservoir a few weeks ago after my wife
showed me a photo in the local community newspaper that
showed the old bridge sticking up above the water, or what
was left of the water. According to the news story the
reservoir was only 20 percent full. I decided to take a
drive out there on the weekend to see for myself how bad
things had gotten.
The first thing I noticed after I parked was that the
floating dock was sitting on dry land surrounded by growing
grass which told me that the low water was not a sudden
thing. The old road that leads to the bridge was now
visible and it was a good 100 yard walk to the edge of the
water where some folks were trying their luck at fishing.
There was a fly fisherman casting away at rising fish and I
asked him about the low water. He reported that the old
bridge was barely visible the previous week but now almost
ten feet was sticking up out of the water. Another few
weeks and the whole bridge will probably be above water.
I walked the perimeter of the reservoir and saw more dirt
than water. All the feeder streams were dry with grass and
weeds growing in the channels. Some of my favorite fishing
spots were now a pile of rocks sitting on cracked dirt. Old
tires, bottles, dead freshwater clams and even a sunken
boat and lounge chair were drying in the sun.
Rain, and lots of it, will be needed to fill this reservoir
and restore the streams that feed into it. If that doesn't
happen soon this body of water, and probably all the fish
in it, will cease to exist as a viable fishery in the near