Blacksburg leaps into environmental awareness

Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 24-Oscar: This frog, nicknamed Oscar, is placed right outside of the Lyric Theater in downtown Blacksburg. A child set a rock with a note next to him, showing that he is a local favorite. Photo: Stephen Dixon

About a year ago, Leslie Hager-Smith turned her dream of increasing environmental awareness in downtown Blacksburg into a reality when she started the 16 Frogs project. An avid history lover and the vice-mayor of Blacksburg, Hager-Smith has seen the decline of the health of local water firsthand and knew something needed to be done.

“The year of our bicentennial was 1998, and that was the year that Stroubles Creek was put on the state’s most impaired waterways list, and it has remained there ever since,”Hager-Smith said.

According to the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Stroubles Creek originates from three springs in Blacksburg, flows through the town, and combines together to run into the Duck Pond. Hager-Smith noted that despite the necessity of clean water in the environment, many people in the Blacksburg area are unaware of the current state of Stroubles Creek.

For this reason, Hager-Smith and the rest of the town council feel like the 16 Frogs project is a simple solution to this problem. She believes that it is vital to “bring attention to this environment, what makes it special, exactly why we got here and how town history revolves around waterways.”

In order to achieve this goal, 16 bronze statues of frogs will be strategically placed around the town of Blacksburg. Locals, college students and tourists will all be able to enjoy these unique pieces of artwork, while learning more about how they can make a difference in the health of Stroubles Creek. Several frogs are already installed and can be found next to the Blacksburg Municipal Building, in front of the Lyric Theater and next to the Main Street Inn.

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