WV Wildlife: Eco Boat Ramp

This newly designed boat ramp in Petersburg is much more eco friendly than it's concrete predecessor. (WCHS/WVAH)

Petersburg, WV (WCHS/WVAH) — No matter if it's fishing, or just going out to have a good time--you've probably been on a boat ramp before.

They may all look and act the same, but DNR biologists are trying to change that here in the mountain state--and there's more reasons why than you may think.

Brandon Keplinger, a fisheries biologist with the Division of Natural Resources, says these permeable boat ramps have a number of uses.

"It’s a fairly new idea. The idea came from water managers recognizing that their streams were behaving differently when they were getting rainfall events--like issues with flooding, issues with disturbance of aquatic habitats because of these really violent flow events", said Keplinger.

"Basically, what we're standing on are articulated mats of blocks, which means if you take the edges and fold them up, all the blocks articulate within that mat. So, you can actually meld the mats together with other ones alongside"

Pretty convenient.

More concrete and asphalt, like you would see on conventional boat ramps, simply equals faster runoff after a heavy rain event, which can not only raise stream levels quicker, but it can also allow for more pollutants to reach the water. These permeable boat ramps, however, can reduce that.

"The cool thing about these permeable pavers--they get their name because they have the ability to take in water and hold it for long periods of time and slowly let the water get to the streams, as opposed to water that just runs off directly in the stream and causes inflated flows over a short period of time. We weren't getting that percolation--or absorption of the water into the ground as well as we have--as our landscape changes. There’s contaminants that come into the water with runoff. They may be petroleum based--stuff that you might find that comes off of vehicles, or trailers, on the parking lot. If water comes from adjacent lands, where there's agricultural areas or urban areas, there's other types of contaminants that can be picked up there, like excessive nutrients and stuff like that, and keep some of those contaminants back that could basically get funneled into the fish that people are trying to catch, or--in a lot of cases, trying to eat", said Keplinger.

These ramps give your feet a lot more traction, too--they're made up of bricks and gravel. Another reason to appreciate them.

"We've gotten a lot of traffic on Facebook, a lot of calls coming from our anglers--explaining to us their appreciation for the public access site, and the way we've set it up and the materials that we've used. This was really a group effort among several state agencies and even the city of Petersburg. So, it's really a cooperative effort among our agencies that are all interested in seeing people into the stream and enjoying it. Hopefully, it's an opportunity for us to show our capacity to be good stewards of our aquatic resources and encourage other people to follow suit", said Keplinger.

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