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Happy #GivingTuesday!

Happy #GivingTuesday!
Feel like giving back?! That’s what Giving Tuesday is all about! You can donate to Georgia River Network which is a Non-Profit Organization. We are the voice of Georgia’s rivers and we could use your help!
Our mission is to help everyone enjoy, connect with and advocate for our economically vital and clean flowing rivers.

Be involved in #GivingTuesday and help support our mission!

The link below is to the Georgia River Network donation page. Donate what you can and help GRN make a difference!

https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx…

 

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Don’t forget to give back on this lovely #GivingTuesday!

You can donate to Georgia River Network which is a Non-Profit Organization. We are the voice of Georgia’s rivers and we could use your help!
Our mission is to help everyone enjoy, connect with and advocate for our economically vital and clean flowing rivers.

Be involved in #GivingTuesday and help support our mission!

The link below is to the Georgia River Network donation page. Donate what you can and help GRN make a difference!

https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E103692&id=8

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#GivingTuesday!

Its #GivingTuesday!

#GivingTuesday is a global movement that is created to encourage people to give back.

Georgia River Network is a Non-Profit Orginization and as the voice of Georgia’s rivers, their mission is to help everyone enjoy, connect with and advocate for our economically vital and clean flowing rivers. 

Be involved in #GivingTuesday and help support Georgia River Networks mission!

The link below is to the Georgia River Network donation page. Donate what you can and help GRN make a difference!

https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E103692&id=8

p1140716Wow!!! Cheers to another awe-inspiring Fall Float on the Flint! 115 paddlers enjoyed 52 miles of the Flint over 3 days – each day the river showcased majestic landscapes, a plethora of wildlife, and great places to get out and play or lounge.p1150025
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This river never ceases to amaze! The cool majestic blue springs, gorgeous sand beaches, and cavernous limestone ledges covered in lush ferns felt like stepping into a Flint fairyland.

Paddlers explored multiple springs along the journey bubbling up from hundreds of feet below. We peered down in the crystal clear depths with snorkels and masks feeling the pleasant chill of 68 degree water flow past our faces. p1140679

Cypress trees draped in Spanish moss with their gnarled twisted braided tree roots conjured thoughts of Rapunzel and unicorn tails.p1150256

The Baker County High School Students toughed out the 52 miles in high spirits with many memories to take home to their friends and families.

Here’s what paddlers had to say about the Fall Float on the Flint!

flint-bubblesp1150275If you love this river and would like to see more access (for shorter day trips:) Get involved in the development of the Flint River Water Trail! Our next basin wide meeting is this Monday, Oct 17th from 1:00-4:00pm in Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, 409 Elm Ave., Americus, GA.

Thanks to partners Flint Riverkeeper for helping make this event such an awesome success.
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Though their parents and grandparents may have know the Conasauga and Oostanaula as a dumping ground for industrial and municipal waste, after a week on the river, this generation will remember the rivers a wet amusement ride.

Another Paddle Georgia is in the books, and as a resident of Rome where the trip ended, I can say that the event put an exclamation mark on my community’s renewed embrace of river recreation.

What Rome has experienced during the past two decades is a generational paradigm shift in how local residents perceive the three rivers flowing through the heart of their community.

Let me explain…

From the end of the Coosa’s steamboat era in the early 1900s through the 1950s, Rome’s rivers remained a focal point for local residents—a readily available recreational escape.

During the “Roaring 20s” there were motorboat races at the confluence of the Oostanaula and Etowah and Boy Scout excursions on paddlewheel houseboats up the Oostanaula. Into the 1950s, families camped regularly on the Oostanaula’s Whitmore Island, spending days fishing and living off the river.

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A line of paddlers makes their way down the narrow and winding Conasauga during Paddle Georgia 2016.

But, those activities went out of style in the 1960s as the river became fouled by effluent from Dalton’s burgeoning carpet mills. The Conasauga and Oostanaula became so polluted that Romans turned their backs to them. Those residents that came of age along these rivers between 1960 and 1990 learned that they were unfit for swimming and fishing.

In a column by Roger Aycock published in the Jan. 6, 1974 issue of the Rome News-Tribune, the local historian wrote: “Pollution from civic and industrial sources have largely destroyed the once idyllic pursuit of river fishing and camping…Still, the old potential for sport and pleasure remains. With the completion of sewage disposal projects…some portion of that pleasure in our outdoor life may be available again—if not to our generation, which has permitted its decline, then perhaps to our children, who may restore it.”

Aycock’s words were prophetic. The Clean Water Act forced change. Municipal and industrial facilities cleaned up their sewage and wastewater. Citizen advocates formed groups like the Coosa River Basin Initiative.

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Jessie Morris of Peachtree City has a close encounter with a southern pocketbook mussel on the Conasauga River.

As we have on so many of our recent Paddle Georgia adventures, we discovered a river revived.

Briana Smith, a participant from Rome and recipient of one of Georgia River Network’s educator scholarships, told us her parents warned her away from the Oostanaula as a child, but after several days on the river, she said she wouldn’t hesitate to bring her students on the river.

Russ Delozier, a Paddle Lite participant from Dalton, was similarly effected. Though he’s lived in area for years, it was his first excursion on the Conasauga. He wrote to us after the trip, saying, “Here in Dalton and Chatsworth,  we’ve been blessed with fabulous water resources.  But due to, in some cases, unawareness and in others ignorance or even indifference, the communities as a whole have taken those precious (and limited) resources for granted.  So I’m glad to say, your well organized efforts in the Paddle Georgia program have had a needed impact on me.”

For decades, the Conasauga in Dalton was known as the dumping ground for the city’s economic engine—not a place to visit for fun on the water. In fact, it wasn’t until the last five years that the first developed access to the river was established, and even today, there are only two public boat launches along the river’s entire 93-mile length.

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Taylor Harrison of Carrollton drifts down the Oostanaula. There was as much swimming and drifting as there was paddling during Paddle Georgia 2016.

What we discovered on our journey was that the Conasauga and Oostanaula are places worthy of our paddles, fishing poles and swimming trunks, and those who live in Chatsworth, Dalton, Calhoun and Rome took notice.

A day after our journey ended in Rome, a headline in the Rome News-Tribune announced, “Rome’s Rivers Growing in Popularity.”

This river revival has been decades in the making. The children of Roger Aycock’s generation have, in fact, restored our rivers, and Paddle Georgia’s journey through the upper Coosa River basin, has emphatically announced to Coosa River communities: “Welcome back to our rivers!”

Joe Cook, Paddle Georgia Coordinator

June 29, 2016

And, a few additional parting shots…

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Carol McNavish of Houston, Texas gives a peck to an Alabama hogsucker held by Upper Coosa Riverkeeper Amos Tuck. The hogsucker did not turn into Prince Charming; he was released back to the Oostanaula without further incident.

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Ben Owens of Rome gets a “back massage” during a break along the Conasauga River.

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The river that once carried carpet waste now cools paddlers. Chris Lewis, Ellen Cardin, Amos Tuck, Barbara Lamb and Chad Johnfroe luxuriate in a Conasauga River shoal.

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Refugees crossing the river to the promised land or Paddle Georgia participants reaching a take out location? Thanks to the dozens–nay hundreds–of volunteers who pitched in to aid fellow paddlers, move boats, load gear trucks, etc. You are what makes Paddle Georgia so special!

The last day of Paddle Georgia 2016 was upon us at the lovely and accommodating Calhoun High School.P1130627 A city of colorful tents and hammocks dotted the track and bleachers, and the gym floor was filled wall to wall with waking paddlers. It never ceases to amaze me how early paddlers start their day on Paddle Georgia – ¾ were up by 5:30 AM enjoying a freshly brewed cup-a-joe at Café Campesino. However, I’ve come to realize that folks are up -bright eyed and bushy tailed – P1130570before sunrise for good reason with afternoon temps rising into the mid 90’s, these early birds do catch the worm, being able to enjoy the cool morning breeze and wildlife that also ventures out to forage this time of day.

Although my daughter Aviva Zephyr (who turned 1 year old on June 22, 2016), my Uncle Duck, and I were up early, we caught the last bus at 8:00 AM after finishing up a few last minute Volunteer Management tasks.P1130610

We set out for the 14.5 mile journey ahead in our canoe outfitted with a mini Pack N Play and shade umbrella for Aviva.

I felt inspired by those folks who took photos of happy little Aviva in the canoe to share with their friends and family back home who were too scared to take their children paddling. Hopefully we are starting a trend to get more youngsters on our waterways!

Another amazing thing about Paddle Georgia is the sense of community support that abounds. P1130559People are always looking out for each other, lending a hand with hauling gear and boats, offering extra water or sunscreen to those who forgot theirs, and yes offering to hold Aviva when we were carrying our canoe, eating, or pretty much any time (although I think there might have been a little ‘Give me that BABY!’ syndrome going on <:0).

P1130706The floods from the winter had scoured the banks eroding the sediment underneath trees exposing their gnarly web of roots and leaving caves for animals to reside in. You could also see how high the water levels had reached by the logs that had become lodge high in the tree branches above! I was struck by the sedimentary layers of rock sandwiched at odd angles along the river bank- some with fossils.P1130724

Cicadas could be heard throughout the day,
emitting a constant hum that became a pleasant ambient background noise coming from every direction you turned. As the sun shared its warmth with paddlers, squirt guns were engaged, and kids and adults alike popped out of their boats drifting alongside cooling off in the river. I didn’t see many sandbars on the Oostanaula,
instead there were many bars made up of smooth multi colored pebbles – Carlton Goberperfect for landing your boat and getting out for lunch or a swim.
The clock tour welcomed us as we paddled into Rome standing tall above the tree line. We soon reached the confluence where the Oostanaula joins the Etowah to form the Coosa river and we, like many other paddlers, wanted to paddle 5 rivers during this trip, so paddled a few yards upstream on the Etowah to add that to our list.P1130796

As we glided to the takeout we gave a celebratory whoop and an extra yeehaw as Aviva hit her 100th river mile! The river celebration party had already begun with live music, games, and fish fry preparation underway…  Canoes filled with ice cold watermelon and refreshments helped keep people hydrated as they packed up their boats and gear.

The duck race was a hit with 555 tickets sold, raising approx. $2000 for Georgia River Network!  Congrats to winner Carlton Gober! It was a tight race…

Barb Grim Volunteer awardAfter a delicious dinner provided by Coosa River Basin Initiative we gave out prizes for best volunteer, foot tan, oldest and youngest participant, and told more Logperch jokes. Hugs and goodbyes were shared and Joe Cook revealed that our Paddle Georgia 2017 will be on the Etowah!

Thanks to everyone for supporting Georgia River Network and Coosa River Basin Initiative and making Paddle Georgia 2016 another successful and amazingly fun trip!

~Happy ‘Water Trails’~

Gwyneth Moody
Georgia River Network, Community Programs Coordinator

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GRN intern, Dillon Langston, relaxing on the river today.

After the 22 mile trek on Wednesday, there were lots of smiling faces as we paddled the more relaxing 13 mile stretch of the beautiful Oostanaula today. The weather was fully cooperative, being partly cloudy with a nice breeze, and the easier paddle made for lots of fun. I heard paddlers singing songs and laughing, saw them jumping off rocks, and spraying boatloads (literally) of people with their supersoakers.

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Came around the bend to see this snake with a catfish in its mouth!

The wildlife must have sensed the beautiful day too! There were lots of sunfish caught by our fisherman kayakers, plenty of mussels found, a couple of snakes, and a few paddlers even saw an otter or two! The beautiful day combined with the easy-going spirits of the boaters was a great way to prepare for the last day of Paddle Georgia.

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Comedian, Ed Aceves, and host, Victor Johnson, giving the rest of the paddlers a laugh.

Ending Thursday night was the “No Talent Talent Show” hosted by the witty Victor Johnson. Paddlers stepped up to the mic with everything from songs to jokes to stories. One of the acts that I enjoyed was Mary Ellen Self singing her rendition of “My Church” by Marren Morris, but instead of talking about her favorite radio station, Mary Ellen sang to us about how Georgia’s rivers are her preferred means of being spiritual. Two more hilarious acts were Beverly Benfield and Ed Aceves reciting their best jokes. Beverly had some great insight about the Conasauga Log Perch, while Ed had us laughing with his lactose-intolerant jokes.

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Mary Ellen Self singing about her Paddle Georgia church!

While this eventful week is winding down for paddlers, staff, and volunteers, I know everyone is looking forward to the River’s End Celebration in Downtown Rome. I am personally excited for the Duck Race, and can’t wait to see 500+ ducks float down the Oostanaula!

 

 

-Lily Robins, Georgia River Network Intern

 

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