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It’s officially warm enough for outdoor activities, and Blue Hole is the place to go for both locals and students.

Blue Hole, located in Jenkinsburg, W. Va., is a local swimming hole that used to be a secret spot for locals. However, West Virginia University (WVU) students make the approximately 45-minute drive to enjoy the swimming hole as well. Unfortunately, students going to Blue Hole, looking to party, often results in the destruction of the swimming hole. Littering and vandalism are left in the wake of partying students which makes the spot less enjoyable for others. Local residents of Morgantown are disgruntled about students’ use of the swimming hole because of this reason. Yet, WVU promotes Blue Hole on Morgantown Do It Yourself Outdoors website which further encourages students to go explore it.

The video below created by Elliott King is only one of many videos that students have taken during their partying excursions.

The aftermath of the partying is damaging to the environment. Consider the tweet below:

That’s a lot of trash that is impacting our environment. Yet Blue Hole still is promoted as the number one party spot during the summer. Even DubV Nightlife promotes Blue Hole one it’s Twitter once the temperatures start turning warm.

In an article that listed 7 places that would make your summer epic, Blue Hole was listed at number six. Reading through some of the comments you find various opinions regarding the swimming hole. This particular comment stood out among the locals, receiving 36 likes:

One response was that not every college student is destructive and that some students want to keep Blue Hole beautiful for everyone to enjoy.

In order to get a better idea of local and student perspectives on Blue Hole, I conducted interviews. For locals I asked five key questions:

  1. What’s your biggest pet peeve regarding students’ use of Bule Hole?
  2. Do you feel that Blue Hole has become a place to avoid?
  3. What negative/positive experiences have you encountered since students’ use of Blue Hole?
  4. Why do you typically go to Blue Hole?
  5. What’s one thing you wish to change?

Locals’ Perspectives 

  1. Trash and destruction 
  2. Yes
  3. I have lots of fond memories of Blue Hole growing up, students or not. But I’ve seen a lot of people get hurt, even paralyzed from jumping off the bridge!
  4. Swim, hang out with friends and drink!
  5. People cleaning up after themselves 

Amy Acuff

  1. Littering 
  2. Yes
  3. None personally but I know locals who avoid the area now
  4. No
  5. Take their trash can with them.

George Hall

  1. I have none
  2. I’m a lifelong resident of the area and I can say I have never been there
  3. Never had any experiences there, I’ve heard about it, seen videos from there, but have never visited the location. Most of what I have heard from is people who visited it and enjoyed it
  4. No, but obviously it is a place I should visit
  5. Being as I have never been there, nor do I use it, me expressing my opinion on any changes would just not be fair to the residents and the users of the area

Meghan Buck

  1. Alcohol, broken glass, and “party” atmosphere
  2. Yes
  3. We live very close and usually have our young children along with us… there have been countless occasions where our children have had to experience the unacceptable behaviors that go on down there
  4. We live very close. It’s beautiful and provides an area of fresh water to cool off in
  5. No more partying/drinking

When I interviewed students, I asked these four key questions:

  1. Why do you typically go to Blue Hole?
  2. Have you ever had a bad experience at Blue Hole? Would you agree or disagree that littering is a problem at Blue Hole?
  3. What’s your biggest pet peeve regarding Blue Hole?
  4. What’s one thing you wish to change to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone?

Students’ Perspectives 

Kristin Sodini 

  1. To be outside and have a good time with my friends
  2. When I leave Blue Hole it’s covered in beer cans 
  3. I don’t have any pet peeves, I love Blue Hole!
  4. Having more beer. They should also make it more accessible for smaller cars
    • Side comment: It’s about 95% students at Blue Hole. Sometimes you see a townie.

Sam Gough 

  1. I only went once and that was mainly just to go see what it was all about and try the rope swing. I had a great time but when I went it wasn’t packed or anything so that was nice.
  2. There is a HUGE littering problem at blue hole, it’s amazing I didn’t step on any glass or cut myself on any cans.
  3. My biggest problem with Blue Hole is definitely the vandalism and littering. There’s so much spray paint, cans, old clothes, ropes, styrofoam, and general trash. It’s a place that’s not really controlled or monitored which is a double-edged sword because it means visitors have free reign of the place and can do what they want, but they take that for granted and don’t clean up after themselves and there’s nobody available if someone gets hurt or if things get out of hand.
  4. If the people who owned the land gave the area around the bridge a little more attention with the cleanup, or if some organization could gather volunteers to do a clean up it would make blue hole really nice again.

John Cordonier

  1. I go to Blue Hole to go on weekend camping with friends, usually once or twice a year.
  2. I haven’t had a bad experience there, but the littering is problematic and it definitely takes away from the outdoors experience.
  3. My biggest pet peeves are littering and the access roads into Blue Hole. Both roads are too narrow and are plagued by potholes and sometimes fallen trees for months at a time.
  4. Having better roads to get in would definitely make going to Blue Hole more enjoyable.

As you can see, both locals and students enjoy the public access to the beautiful swimming hole, and the majority agree that littering is a major problem. Even WVU students who go to Blue Hole, to party with friends, agree that littering is a problem, and while some do their best to clean up after themselves there will always be others that litter regardless. Because there is no way to monitor the secluded spot, allowing accumulation of litter, it’s important for locals and students to clean up and spread awareness to the issue. Doing so will make Blue Hole a more enjoyable spot for everyone to visit.

My name is Cayla R. Nolder and I’m a Writer/Editor for Conserve the Wild & Wonderful. I have a fear of heights so I would never jump off the bridge at Blue Hole. Follow me on Twitter @cayla_redlon for Conserve the Wild & Wonderful’s latest updates!