Southern Currents: Roanoke River

Photographer Carl Galie first fell for the Roanoke River 23 years ago when writing a book about the 410-mile river basin.

I spent four years exploring the creeks and back swamps along the river and made many lifelong friends along the way. For me, it is a magical place that I have continued to explore long after my project's completion.”

—Photographer Carl Galie

Running from the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Blacksburg in southwestern Virginia into northeastern North Carolina, the Roanoke River crosses stunning mountain scenery and winds across the coastal plain before ending in Albemarle Sound.

As it winds its way through Virginia and North Carolina, the river and its tributaries support local efforts to revitalize waterfront communities with attractions including new historic districts and river districts, fishing tournaments, and kayaking and canoeing opportunities. For instance the Virginia city of Roanoke, which is bisected by the river, recently built a popular greenway along the riverfront, connecting it to the city’s network of trails.

A threat from Washington D.C. officials risks pollution of the Roanoke and many other waterways by rolling back protections upstream. As we know, allowing pollution into upstream waters spells trouble for everyone downstream. The best way to protect clean water is to stop harmful pollution at its source, before it reaches our waterways.

The petition at urges officials to maintain our clean water and protect the Roanoke River and other special places like it.

My favorite time to visit the Roanoke River is in the spring and this year I had the opportunity to do a four-day paddling trip between the towns of Williamston and Plymouth, North Carolina. Once you have spent a night sleeping under the stars along the river, it makes it easy to understand why I have spent the last 23 years helping to protect and promote this river.”

—Photographer Carl Galie

Take action and learn more about protecting the waters you love at

Follow SELC on Instagram @southernenvironment.

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