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Friday – April 1st

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130 paddlers, staff, and volunteers from all over Georgia and beyond came together last weekend for Georgia River Network and Satilla Riverkeeper’s inaugural Spring on the Satilla event!

We stayed in and around the majestic Satilla Lodge – a beautiful retreat situated on the banks of the Satilla river.P1150726 Everyone trickled in on Friday – making their way down the long straight flat sandy road flanked by pine tree plantations, old farmsteads, and water filled ditches (inhabited by fish, alligator, turtle, and tadpole).

P1150730People were thrilled to see David and Jaimie Minich of Café Campesino on the grounds providing their delicious coffees, teas, and smoothies.
We can’t thank them enough for donating 10% of their proceeds to Georgia River Network.

Before dinner, Satilla Lodge owner Michael Gowen gave an informative tour of the Lodge and the Adopt A Stream and Environmental Protection Division crew set up their makeshift water quality laboratory for the training and monitoring workshops taking place throughout the weekend.IMG_4878(2)

Despite the forecast predicting rain in the early/mid afternoon- the torrential downpour held off until after most people had arrived, set up camp, and eaten a scrumptious BBQ dinner provided by Creative Catering.IMG_4901The youth group from Camden County High School were super excited about the weekend ahead and enthusiastically sang their school’s chant!

After dinner Joe Cook, Ashby Nix Worley, and myself helped deliver the evening announcements highlighting Georgia River Network’s engage, advocacy, and empowerment programs, including assisting with the development of the Satilla River Water Trail, and reviewed the outlook for the evening tornado watch under effect and Saturday’s paddle.P1150352

It was encouraging to see how prepared campers were for the impending thunderstorms with secured waterproof tents and tarps … Nothing was going to stop them from enjoying this paddling event!

And boy did the deluge come full throttle throughout the night – but come daylight on Saturday the rain had petered out and the chance of rain had decreased substantially.P1150694

Spring on the Satilla here we come!

 

 

 

 


 

 

Saturday – April 2

IMG_4926The first sound we heard in the morning was the loud rhythmic chorus of the frogs, jubilant after the heavy rains. I was expecting to see unhappy soggy campers, but instead I saw people as elated as the frogs- enjoying a leisurely breakfast with hot coffee, while catching up with old paddling friends and making new ones.
IMG_4942With map bags, lunches, and hats on hand, paddlers hopped on the bus and were slowly transported to the put in location approx. 16 miles upstream from the Lodge.  Thankfully, the roads were sloshy wet but still passable.P1150382

The pleasantly cool, overcast weather added a sense of mystery and enchantment to the river with the twisted gnarly trees that clung to the Satilla’s banks and roots covered in furry green and brown mosses.

The knobby Cypress knees often resembled sculptures of dragons, birds, and dancing figurines adding to the ethereal feeling that came over you as you paddled along.  P1150400
I expected to see a fairy pop its head out at any moment.

The Satilla is truly a hidden gem and with hardly any development along its banks, it provides a sanctuary and habitat for a plethora of wildlife.  We were amazed at how clean the river was – only seeing one or 2 pieces of trash during the entire trip!P1150458
Kingfisher, Swallow-Tailed Kite, Wood Stork, Terns, Egret, and a Bard owl were just a few of the birds seen, as well as a Coral snake, alligators, Red Eared Slider turtles, damselflies, and butterflies.

P1150548Local musician, Karl Davis serenaded paddlers with river blues as they sat and enjoyed their lunch or paddled by 3R Fish Camp.

Spring on the Satilla, like all of GRN’s paddling trips, is a family friendly event and it was fantastic to see all of the families that decided to join us!P1150506

Children ranged from 9 months old (guess who that could be?) to 17 years, some were on the river for their first time, others already considered themselves veteran paddlers – and everyone seemed to be having a blast! P1150602

It turned into a beautifully clear afternoon and evening.

Upon returning to the Lodge, folks lounged in rocking chairs overlooking the river, sunbathed on the dock, socialized with fellow paddlers, brainstormed Red Breast Sunfish Jokes, swung from the rope swing, took walks around the grounds, and took a nice afternoon snooze.P1150416
By the time 6:30pm rolled around, paddlers had worked up a healthy appetite and were queued up for a delicious dinner of Sliced Pit Ham with Pineapple relish, yummy sides and dessert.
P1150387It was an eventful evening packed with announcements, Red Breast jokes, and more in depth information about the Satilla Riverkeeper and their work protecting the Satilla.

P1150686IMG_5007We also held a live auction with all kinds of goodies ranging from artwork, jewelry, and clothing to beer tastings, and kayaking tours.Ryan Connaly

Eight teams fiercely competed in the Corn Hole Tourney for a $100 cash prize that lasted a good 2 hours. Congrats to Corn Hole Champions – Jim and Debbie Fountain!

P1150681We also want to send a big HIGH FIVE out to Ryan Connors, the lucky winner of the Santee 116 Sport recreational Kayak Raffle!
The money raised during the Spring on the Satilla event will go directly to Georgia River Network and Satilla Riverkeeper to help support our river protection and restoration efforts throughout the state.P1150715

After a lively evening of raising money for Georgia’s rivers, kids enjoyed a game of giant Jenga, and before calling it a night, some folks took a respite under the night sky full of magnificent stars and planets.

 

 


 

 

Sunday – April 3

P1150650We awoke to beautiful sunny weather on our last day of Spring on the Satilla and the crisp blue skies seemed to make the abundance of Wild Azaleas,
Trumpet vine, lIMG_4954ush green ferns, iris, Cypress, Maple, Live Oak, Rice grass, Palmettos, and Lily Pads pop with color in bright contrast to the dark reddish tannin rich water and white sugary sand beaches. P1150531

Around every bend there was another scenic painting that could be framed – a memory you never wanted to leave behind.

As we paddled closer to the P1150428ocean, the tidal influence became more noticeable, as well as the wildlife adapted to the increase in saltwater.  The river bottom became exposed to the surface in some areas as the tide retreated resembling chocolate mousse as you pushed off with your paddle. It was silky smooth, but so thick it could suck you or your paddle under if you weren’t careful.
IMG_5052(2)Some paddlers enjoyed fishing from their kayaks while others such as the Camden County ‘Wildcat’ Youth Group, assisted ichthyologist Camm Swift seine fishes and other critters from the silty shallows.

A few species collected include: Killifish, Red Breast Sun fish, Dragonfly nymphs, Hogchoker, Mad Tom Catfish, shrimp and even a Fresh water eel!IMG_5187

Epiphytes such as Spanish moss, Ball moss, and Orchid could be seen draped over almost every tree branch adding that element of romantic elegance to the trip that South Georgia is so revered for.
IMG_5196Many paddlers were shocked at how quickly 8 miles went by and wanted to stay out on the river exploring oxbows and enjoying the gorgeous scenery and weather.

It was an amazing trip and we want to send a HUGE thanks to all of our volunteers!  We could’t have pulled this paddling event off with such finesse without their help!IMG_5183

We were excited to discover that around 80% of paddlers on this trip were experiencing the Satilla river for the first time and we sure hope it’s not their last.  Your support of Georgia River Network and Satilla Riverkeeper helps keep the Satilla river and all of Georgia’s rivers protected so that they can continue to provide crucial habitat for wildlife and be enjoyed by future generations.IMG_5073IMG_4987

We hope to see y’all on our other paddling trips this year! Stay tuned for EPD and Adopt A Stream’s water quality monitoring results and please let us know if you would like to get involved in Adopt-A Stream monitoring in your community back home.

See more of the pics I took on the ‘Spring on the Satilla 2016 Photo Album‘ and be sure to check out Joe Cook’s awesome photos too!

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~ Keep on rollin’ down the river…

Gwyneth MoodyP1150352 2

Community Programs Coordinator, Georgia River Network

P.S.

A few people asked how many river/ocean miles Aviva has logged. Thus far she is at 40 miles:

  1. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, FL
  2. Fall Float on the Flint 2015, GA
  3. Ochlockonee River Hidden Gem, GA
  4. Duaba river, Cuba
  5. Spring on the Satilla, GA

 

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Vincent Payne and Keith Haskell paddle beyond one of the Conasauga’s many bluffs.

While paddling the Conasauga Sunday, I saw something I’ve never seen before: a bald eagle soaring with vultures. Bald eagles, though a national symbol of power, are, in fact, lazy birds.

They routinely steal fish from ospreys who are more skilled fish hunters, and, as it turns out, eagles have been known to follow vultures to carrion, where the larger, more powerful birds chase off the wake and steal the meal.

It was a surprising find on another surprising Georgia river as the Paddle Georgia scouting team of Gwyneth Moody, Vincent Payne, Keith Haskell and I stroked from near Dalton some 27 miles downstream to the river’s confluence with the Coosawattee.

A friend who paddled the Conasauga in the 1970s told me stories of a river filled with refuse and the dyes of textile plants—a river so nasty that the City of Calhoun downstream on the Oostanaula moved its drinking water intake to the Coosawattee in search of cleaner water.

What a difference a few decades and the Clean Water Act makes.

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Typical of the Conasauga’s riverside escarpments is this cedar-lined bluff. 

On this journey we circumnavigated Loopers Bend where Dalton Utilities, a Paddle Georgia sponsor this year, operates one of the largest sewage land application systems in the nation. The treated waste of the textile plants (and homes and businesses in Dalton) is now sprayed on fields and woods across more than 9,000 acres of land sandwiched between a massive bend of the Conasauga. It soaks into the ground where nature filters and cleans it further. Meanwhile, Dalton’s carpet plants use a fraction of the water they once did, and thus they produce less wastewater.

The result: today the river more often than not lives up to its name…a Cherokee word that some historians believe means “sparkling waters.”

But, it is really the area’s geography that gives this river its “wow” factor. The Ridge and

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The Conasauga’s geography with its soaring riverside bluffs give the river its “wow” factor.

Valley region of northwest Georgia is a series of long ridges running from the southwest to the northeast separating wide valleys. There are no rolling hills, no narrow gaps for the river to cut through, no rocky fall lines filled with shoals and rapids.

The Conasauga, as north Georgia rivers go, is about as lazy as a bald eagle, but it bumps up against some beautiful bluffs. Periodically, long straightaways give way to sharp bends where ancient rocks redirect the river. It’s here that cedar and beech trees cling to the cliffs and relic hunters find 500 million year-old trilobite fossils.

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Georgia River Network’s Gwyneth Moody inspects a southern pocketbook mussel on the Conasauga River. 

Opposite one bluff, we pulled up on a sandbar littered with mussels, a fauna the Conasauga has in abundance. Buried in the sand near the edge of the water line was a massive southern pocketbook mussel, still living, filtering the river and cleaning it…for free—the best volunteer a Riverkeeper could ask for. The Coosa River Basin Initiative/Upper Coosa Riverkeepr, for whom I work when I’m not planning Paddle Georgia, would like to have several million more…but alas, two centuries of changes to the landscape has wreaked havoc on the river’s mussel populations.

Five species have been lost in the upper Coosa River basin; another seven are federally protected. As filter feeders—and relatively immobile invertebrates—they are among the first animals to feel the effects of pollution. Still, the Conasauga and its sister streams of the upper Coosa are home to 27 species of mussels, and a walk along almost any river sandbar can be every bit as exciting for shell hunters as a walk along a Gulf Coast beach.

This is but a glimpse of the river we’ll explore June 18-24 during Paddle Georgia 2016. As of March 7, about 90 spaces were still available. Sign up now! I’ll guarantee that at some point along our 103-mile journey, you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.

Joe Cook

Paddle Georgia Coordinator

March 7, 2016

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The Conasauga River near Beaverdale. The headwaters of the Conasauga were recently named “Outstanding National Resource Water” by Georgia’s Board of Natural Resources.

When we decided to hold Paddle Georgia 2016 on the Conasauga and Oostanaula rivers in northwest Georgia, I danced a little jig at my home in Rome. Aside from being very fond of both rivers, this meant that scouting trips would not entail long-distance car journeys.

So early Sunday morning my very accommodating wife, Leanne, got up before 6 a.m. to run me and scout dog, Oconee, an hour north to Dalton for a journey on the Conasauga from Beaverdale (our tentative Day 1 launch site) to Airport Road—a distance of 27 miles that takes in the projected first day, and portions of the second day, of Paddle Georgia 2016.

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Oconee, the scout dog, takes in the early morning view on the Conasauga.

The river did not disappoint. Can a river disappoint on a 70-degree December day?

Like many of Georgia’s rivers, the Conasauga is a river of superlatives. It is astoundingly biologically rich—home to 76 native fish species and 18 mussel species, an incredible variety for a river that’s less than 100 miles long.

In just one tiny run of the river’s headwaters within the Chattahoochee National Forest, more than 70 fish species have been identified. “The Snorkel Hole,” as it is known, attracts people from across the country to snorkel this “freshwater reef.” I’ve had the pleasure of doing this a couple of times, and the experience is otherworldy.

In August, this and other portions of the river’s headwaters became the first river segment in Georgia to be named an “Outstanding National Resource Water” by Georgia’s Board of Natural Resources.

But, my destination Sunday was some 20 miles downstream from the Snorkel Hole where the river winds through northwest Georgia’s Ridge and Valley region—a distinct geographic area characterized by long, straight ridges separated by wide valleys.

This translates into a river that winds through bucolic farmland and occasionally collides with a ridge where the interface results in impressive bluffs and rock outcroppings. There are no rapids and only occasional shoals—those obstacles are left to north Georgia rivers that traverse the state’s Blue Ridge and Piedmont. In fact, the only serious rapid on this section of river is the rock dam at Dalton Utilities raw water intake. It’s a rapid that will likely require a portage in lower water, but on this day it provided a thrilling ride. CLICK HERE TO VIEW YOU TUBE VIDEO OF OCONEE RIDING THE DALTON UTILITIES RAPID.

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The rock outcroppings at Fincher Bluff are typical of the Conasauga’s journey through northwest Georgia’s Ridge and Valley region.

Of course, since the river is just a short distance from its headwaters in the Cohutta Wilderness, it is small and intimate which means…you guessed it!…It is also home to an occasional strainer. The sequel to “Strainbusters 2015 on the Ogeechee,” “StrainerBusters II” will premiere in June 2016.

Oconee and I had a delightful day exploring the river, though ‘Conee took more than one spill as a result of the strainers. Words of advice from the four-legged scout: do not stand atop your canoe seat when entering a log-choked section of river. CLICK HERE TO VIEW A YOUTUBE VIDEO OF OCONEE TAKING A SWIM. 

Recent high water left the river littered with the remains of this season’s Conasauga valley corn crop. In places the stalks and shucks completely cloaked riverside trees and shrubs. The high water also released all manner of less organic flotsam to the river.

Chatsworth and Dalton are both drained by this section of river and its tributaries, and the refuse from careless litterers was as clearly evident as the corn crop.

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The Conasauga River near Beaverdale. The headwaters of the Conasauga were recently named “Outstanding National Resource Water” by Georgia’s Board of Natural Resources.

In a day of smart phones, smart TVs and even “Smart Water,” we are sadly plagued by stupid people that discard their trash without regard for its ultimate destination. This year, more than 24,000 volunteers helped remove over 530,000 pounds of trash from our rivers through the state’s Rivers Alive program.

Perhaps someday, when enough people have traveled our state’s life-giving rivers and become aware of the link between litter and our rivers, such cleanups will be unnecessary.

Hint: Paddle Georgia 2016, June 18-24 would be a good place to start. Georgia River Network staff are currently fine tuning the details of the event. Registration will begin in February. Join us for another memorable north Georgia adventure.

Cynthia Cox slides through shoals in downtown Albany during Day 1 of Fall Float on the Flint.

Cynthia Cox slides through shoals in downtown Albany during Day 1 of Fall Float on the Flint.

If Georgia rivers get any better than the Flint River between Albany and Bainbridge, you can pummel me with water cannons in the middle of a sub-freezing winter paddle. I just don’t think it gets much better than this 70-mile run…especially when you’re in the company of 140 other paddling enthusiasts as each of us was during the four days of Fall Float on the Flint.

Where else in the deep south of Georgia can you run whitewater shoals (O.K., O.K. it’s not the Chattooga, but it’s still fun)? Where else can you find a gopher tortoise swimming across a river while a bald eagle soars over head? Where else can you leap into water so crystal clear and blue that it appears almost cartoonish? Where else can you uncover 50 million year-old fossils of sea shells in one hand and native freshwater mussel shells in the other hand…all on the same sandbar?

A foggy view from atop limestone bluffs on Day 4 of Fall Float on the Flint.

A foggy view from atop limestone bluffs on Day 4 of Fall Float on the Flint.

If I were naming bucket list paddles in Georgia, the Fall Float run on the Flint would have to be near the top of the list.

And, this year’s Fall Floaters would agree.

Melissa Ballard of Fairmount who brought along five members of her Boy Scout Adventure Crew shared with us some of the comments she heard from her teenagers on the way home:

“The best part was…all of it.”

“The springs were beautiful.  I loved the places we camped.”

“The best part of the trip?…definitely the springs, jumping from the tree, the cliff jump…well, OK, all of it.”

Upon arriving home after four days on the Flint, Cynthia Cox posted to Facebook: “I loved this paddle so much…I’m already missing it.”

I for one am still telling shoal bass jokes, and I’m especially fond of Barry O’Neill’s offering: A shoal bass walks into the sandbar and the bartender says, “Hey that’s an nice pair of Bass Wejun penny loafers you have on there.” To which the shoal bass replies, “Thanks, and they’ve got great shoals.”

Bad jokes and all kidding aside, this year’s Fall Float did what all of Georgia River Network’s paddle trips do. It connected people with rivers, starting intimate relationships that lead to paddlers taking action to protect rivers.

Taking the plunge into Wilson Blue Hole Spring on Day 1 of Fall Float on the Flint.

Taking the plunge into Wilson Blue Hole Spring on Day 1 of Fall Float on the Flint.

During the course of the four day event, the group heard from Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers and American Rivers’ Jeremy Diner, learning about how state water policies are draining the Flint dry and what solutions are out there to reverse the trend.

More than a dozen paddlers participated in Georgia Adopt-A-Stream water testing workshops; 32 individuals donated money to Georgia River Network for the chance to win a $250 pot of cash in our first ever Poker Run (David Garr was the winner with a flush!) and countless participants purchased raffle tickets to win a new canoe (Polly Sattler of Atlanta was the winner).

Together, we generated about $10,000 to help Georgia River Network and Flint Riverkeeper protect our rivers…and we had a great time doing it.

If you haven’t run the Flint from Albany to Bainbridge, put it on your bucket list, and hopefully, you can join us for another Fall Float on the Flint.

Gwyneth Moody explores one of the many blue hole springs that we ecperienced during four days on the Flint River from Albany to Bainbridge.

Gwyneth Moody explores one of the many blue hole springs that we ecperienced during four days on the Flint River from Albany to Bainbridge.

P1120267Our last day was a day to remember and 12112350_10153630662688468_1544022097346998408_nnot because we paddled 18.5 miles… but for all of the amazing experiences we had along the journey…

The morning mist which lasted from before dawn til lunchtime, shrouded paddlers into a magical world where only a faded glimpse of the river corridor ahead and behind could be seen. We were convinced that Puff the Magic Dragon would stick his head out of one of the P1120457deep caves on shore.

Different colored layers ofDSCF0902 pocked Karst lined the river bank – blue, green, brown, grey – jagged but soft with a blanket cover of ferns and flowers.

As the sun burned through high overhead, hundreds of webs glistened amongst the weeping 
branches of the willows. Beautifully patterned spiders quickly retreated from their vantage point as you – a potential predator – stealthily glided by. Dragonfly danced across the river dipping and diving into the water aP1120388s they grabbed tasty insect morsels.

The call of Pileated woodpecker could
be heard echoing through the forest as P1120380they notified their mate of their whereabouts and cautioned others to staP1120433y away from their dwellings chipped out of dead trees that jutted from the water like power line poles. P1120311These vertical nursery logs are like apartment complexes providing a home for countless other critters – such as squirrels, insects, and other birds. Some of these dead trees resembled chia pets or river gardens with vegetation sprouting from nooks and crannies filled with mulch and decomposing leaf litter.IMG_2618

Although the day started in the mid 60’s the afternoon IMG_2602sun gave some paddlers enough motivation to delve into the cool but refreshing blue springs bubbling forth that we encountered along the way.

Westrick Spring, was by far the most enchanting blue hole on Fall Float on the Flint this year. A hidden paradise of refreshing crystal blue water surrounded by luscious vegetation. Who knew Georgia had such beauty that resembled the tropics?IMG_2577

The Boy Scouts Venturing Crew from Northwest GeorgiaIMG_2623 were a joy to paddle with and highly entertaining to watch! Always asking to help those that may be in need, singing, cracking jokes, devising riddles, and of course… the first to jump off rope swings and cliffs!

This stretch offered large soft golden sandbars – perfect for picnicking and warming up after a revitalizzzzzing dip.

The Adopt-A-Stream team could be seen along the way sampling the
main stem of the river and tributaries flowing into Flint and answering endless questions from curious paddlers passing by. IMG_2653They mean serious business when it comes to testing water P1120220quality to ensure the health of our rivers!

I’ve always been touched by the camaraderie, cheerfulness, and helpful nature expressed by the participants of Paddle Georgia and Fall Float. Everyone is excited to meet new people and be reunited again with their paddling friends and family. 
P1120248By journey’s end, whether it’s someone’s 1st or 11th Paddle Georgia – we are all more enlightened and empowered to return home and take part in river restoration efforts and share our experiences to motivate others to join us next year, and get involved in the protection of the lifeblood of our communities!

Hope to see y’all on our next paddling event on the Ochlockonee River– Nov 14th!

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

Gwyneth Moody, Georgia River Network

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Lead boat Mike Worley launches at first light from Rocky Bend Flint River Retreat.

Shoal bass, albino crayfish, blind cave salamanders, shiny-rayed pocketbook mussels, Halloween darters and Wyatt Kopp—just a few of the “endemic species” found on the Flint River.

The later celebrated his fourth birthday on the river today from the center seat of a 17-foot canoe with his mother, Emily Kopp, and grandmother, Melissa Spencer. Before leaving the boat ramp for camp after the day’s paddle, Wyatt stuck his head out the window of a Baker County Schools bus and proudly announced: “I saw reptile eggs today!”

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Wyatt Kopp waits for the ride back to camp after a 17-mile paddle on the Flint River.

A cache of the brittle remains of turtle shells on a river sandbar provided the exciting discovery. As 4-year-old river rat birthdays go, it’s hard to beat the discovery of reptile eggs in river sand.

The impressionable Wyatt verbalized what even the adults were feeling on Day 3 of the 70-mile journey from Albany to Bainbridge. The Flint River is alive and the experiences are limitless.

John Pope, an extension agent from Monroe County spent the day casting his fly at shoal bass and other Flint River fish. He learned that on this day, at least, they were cagy—striking but never taking the bait.

Bob Bourne of the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream team ran into a local angler that had better luck. As he drifted by, the angler landed a hefty shoal bass and reported with pride: “That’s why they call me the shoal brother!”

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John Pope of Monroe County casts in search of shoal bass and other Flint River fish.

The Flint River shoal bass, one of the most sought-after sport fish in Georgia, has, indeed caught our imagination and become our unofficial mascot. On Saturday, Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers caught one of the largest he’s ever landed, and each night paddlers have taken turns telling “shoal bass jokes…” during after-dinner announcements.

“What’s the most popular name for baby boy shoal bass?” Rocky…and thus the groans begin, though the throwing of rotten tomatoes has been kept in check (largely because they are out of season).

“What’s the most popular name for baby girl shoal bass?” Pebbles…

“And, when Rocky and Pebbles had twin babies, what did they name them?” Catch and Release

More groans.

Despite a plethora of bad bass jokes, there is a seriousness to the comedy. The shoal bass is a living symbol of the Flint and a reminder of the need to protect and restore this river.

Experienced on the river today…

Cold—with overcast skies and falling temperatures it finally felt like fall.

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Jones Ecological Research Center Director Lindsay Boring talks with Fall Float on the Flint participants about long-leaf pines.

Long-leaf Pines—A stop at the Jones Ecological Center and a stand of long-leaf pines gave us insight into this fire-loving native that was once the dominant tree of the region.

Wiregrass—this native grass that gave Southwest Georgia and Southeast Alabama its nickname, Wiregrass Country, sits under the long leaf pines, collecting its needles and building the tinder for the next fire that will make the long leafs grow.

Mussels—the Flint is a hotbed of mussel diversity. They aren’t very charismatic with their feet buried deep in the sand and muck, but as filter feeders they do help keep the river clean.

Dissolved Oxygen—more than a dozen paddlers learned how to test water for dissolved oxygen and other measures of stream health during a Georgia Adopt-A-Stream citizen water monitoring workshop. This group included youth from a Boy Scouts Venturing Crew from Northwest Georgia led by Melissa Ballard of Fairmount.

End of Full Day…

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Cathy Hodges takes in the riverside forest canopy while her husband, Phillip, takes in a cat nap. The Hodges are serving as Fall Float’s sweep boat.

The final night of Fall Float ended with a celebration at Rocky Bend Flint River Retreat, highlighted by a live auction, awarding of prizes in the Poker Float and Kayak Raffle, and, of course, Wyatt’s birthday cake.

Polly Sattler of Atlanta, though not a participant in Fall Float, won the Old Town Next canoe valued at $1000. She purchased her tickets from the Flint Riverkeeper website!

David Garr, a visiting Florida paddler, turned in the best of more than 30 poker hands: a flush that earned him the $250 pot.

And, several paddlers won items in our auction—ranging from hand-crafted Greenland paddles by Georgia River Network supporter Tom Beaman to shoal bass fishing trips with Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers.

The river won too! Together the raffle, poker float and auctions generated more than $4000 for Georgia River Network and Flint Riverkeeper river protection projects.

Even those of us who didn’t take home a prize won…we had the pleasure of spending another day on a beautiful Georgia river.

Joe Cook, Paddle GA Coordinator

What is it that makes fall feel complete to you? unnamed (2)Today, paddlers were able tounnamed (5) experience some of the best Fall Georgia has to offer. The sun crested the horizon around 7:30, but clouded skies made for a cool and calm morning.

Freshly fallen sycamore leaves danced along the water’s surface, in hues of gold and brown, while a rainbow of boats launched from Mitchell Landing. The higher waters brought swift currents,unnamed (6) a welcomed start to our 22-mile day. Maidenhair Ferns disguised the limestone banks with their whimsical green fronds. Fall flowers in full blunnamed (4)oom lined our journey- purple mist flowers and yellow goldenrods abound.  As mid-day approached, the clouds parted and the forest warmed with the songs of migrating warblers, and a
Bald Eagle even made an appearance. The afternoon warmed enough to entice some paddlers into the water for a swim.
Blissed out on the beautiful fall views and lively conversations, the miles slipped by easily. At the take-out Rocky Bend, unnamed (3)we passed minutes waiting for returning paddlers with time-honored traditions among paddlers and southerners: hanging out rope swinging and checking in on the day’s football games. unnamed
It wasn’t hard to linger among the limestone today, or ever. Fall on the Flint is something you’ll want experience again and again.
Alicia Evans
Georgia River Network Board Member
Chattahoochee Nature Center
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