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Day 2-PG2015How did you celebrate Father’s Day? For Paddle Georgia participants, it was with a 17 mile float, making today our longest day. The many sweepers and strainers slowed the day down but brought us paddlers together on this long stretch of river. It’s easy to spread out along the water but the jams, after causing short frustration, spawned a new sense of comradery. Paddlers shared sunscreen and jokes referring to the hold up as “worse than Atlanta traffic”. With lots of strainers, miles, and boat traffic, a popular rope swing was a welcomed distraction from this hard paddle. Day 2-PG2015Paddlers challenged each other to see who could jump farthest or who could do the best back flip. We also kept cool with frequent and welcome water gun wars. There is nothing like a little rivalry to boast morale.

This hard paddle took time to tackle, causing the buses to pull us straight into an evening full of great food and riveting talks. Day 2-PG2015
Megan Desrosier, the Executive Director for 100 Miles, presented about Georgia coastal conservation and activism. Tim Echols from the Georgia Public Service Commission spoke on the rising electric car usage in Georgia.

Finally, it was time to retire after a long day. Paddlers went to back to a village of temporary homes, commonly known as Tent City. a unique site created by paddlers. Tents are huddled in the shade, leaving the football field wide open and the goal post to be used as a makeshift clothesline. A strong sense of community is created here, as people sit outside tents in circles sharing opinions and telling stories. Neighbors with portable fans are the most popular. When one woman was attacked by a hill of ants, her neighbors in Tent City came to the rescue with unique home remedies to fix the problem – one of the many instances of generosity and helpfulness exhibited in our temporary home. Other campers have chosen to stay inside the cool gym, turning it into a mattress lined “refugee camp”. Day 2-PG2015After a hard day of paddling, both Tent City and the cool gym are great places to conclude our successful Father’s Day on the Ogeechee River.

Amelia Lord and Jamie Rogers, Paddle Georgia Enthusiasts

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   P1070723 175 exuberant paddlers set off early this morning for our first day on the fabulous Flint river.

 Although we had anticipated cool fall weather, temps warmed up to the upper 80’s today- a welcome delight for those that decided to brave the beautiful but chilly 68 degree blue holes we encountered at Radium and Wilson Blue Springs.

Some folks even had the foresight to bring their snorkels to peer down into the depths where the water spewed forth.

P1070715Camm Swift and Brett Albanese- ichthyologists extraordinaire- dragged their seine net and scooped up a plethora of shiner, sunfish, minnow, and bass, etc… not to mention the scorpion water bug that resembled a walking stick but had a powerful bite for those that accidentally made a misstep.

 

The limestone topography dotted the river banks resembling a moonscape, with Floridan Aquifer spring water gurgling up from the depths below. Lush green ferns and vibrant red and purple flowers hung over the karst ledges and caves beneath like a garden, with the occasional waterfall beckoning us to come closer. 

You never would have guessed that you were paddling through downtown Albany until we made a special detour to the Flint Riverquarium.

Paddlers parked their vessels under the overhanging branches of giant cypress and made there way 200 feet around the construction of a new riverwalk and boat launch to the Aquarium.

It was such an interesting experience to go from the secluded and intimate river corridor into revitalized downtown Albany with its pedestrian street signs marking points of interest only walking distance away- such as the James Brown Memorial. 

The Riverquarium is a must see with very well done exhibits of native river life, such as catfish, gar, terrapin & alligator snapping turtles, albino alligator and even tanks with animals from the gulf- such as octopus, sea horse, piranha, shark, and urchin.

Although it was the shortest paddle of the trip at 14 miles,  the scenery along the way made us yearn to stay on the river longer. Giant cypress tress with there elbows and knees flanked almost every bank, twisting and jutting out of the water resembling picturesque statues of everything from swans and dancers, to mother and child.

Fathers paddling alongside their daughters,  mothers with their sons, such a heartening sight to see that these paddling adventures have become such a special family affair.

At the end of the paddle, the colorful assortment of kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards were lined up on the sandy riverbank and the buses lined up to whisk everyone back to our lovely temporary home at Chehaw Park where showers and the evening festivities awaited.

We were thrilled to be joined by Flint river supporter, Representative Winfred J Dukes (Albany)!

Evening entertainment and educational presentations also included Brett Albanese, GA DNR and Gordon Rogers, Flint Riverkeeper,

What a fabulous day! Really excited about tomorrow’s journey…

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

Gwyneth Moody,

Georgia River Network.
Community Programs Coordinator

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Although our arms and shoulders are a bit achy, our skin sun-kissed and crispy, and hands calloused and blistered, paddlers were sad that the last day of our journey on the Chattahoochee River had arrived.fam c

holeThe 15 mile journey today seemed like a breeze after 95 miles of paddling under 6 27 14 muskratour belts over the past 6 days.

Tunnel like tributaries could be seen every so often peeking through the vegetation draped river banks. We caught a muskrat enjoying its breakfast with such intensity that he didn’t even see us sneaking up to him. It’s whiskers and naked tail disappeared without a trace once we were practically upon it. It must have been a delicious meal!jump

The youth group had no trouble sharing their favorite parts of Paddle Georgia ranging from skipping rocks, the thrill of the shoals and rapids, water b (2)to learning how to paddle, seeing owls and other wildlife, and working very hard.waterfall fun

The most beautiful and definitely everyone’s favorite stop of the day was at Hilly Mill Falls, a majestic 40 ft waterfall cascading down into a cool deep swimming hole below.  It was arapidsn amazing and exhilarating feeling to go behind the water fall and look out from under the stream of water at everyone enjoying the pool beyond.

The rapids gave paddlers a thrilling hiatus from the lazy wide rolling river.fish frystand up

As expected, the end of our journey came too soon. To see the emotions pour forth from paddlers as the took their final strokes and drifted into the open arms, high fives, and kisses from loved ones awaiting them brought tears to our eyes.

The bluesy folk sound of the band, Heather Luttrelle and the Possum Den welcomed paddlers to the River’s End Celebration as well as juicy watermelon pfinishrovided by the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and fresh caught fried fish, hush puppies, sweet corn and cole slaw from the Flint Riverkeeper.

This was April Ingle’s last Paddle Georgia as Georgia River Network’s, Executive Director.  kidsJoe Cook gave a sentimental speech explaining their founding of Paddle Georgia together 10 years ago and how April’s unwavering support for going forward with the journey has in turn changed the course of his life and the future of Georgia’s rivers.

We love you April and we will miss you!

Can’t wait for Paddle Georgia 2015 on the Ogeechee River…P1060763

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

 

 

Gwyneth Moody
Georgia River Network
Community Programs Coordinator

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Although we awoke to cool temperatures and overcast skies it was a nice respite Michelle Nunnfrom the hot steamy weather of the last few days.

Today was a particularly special day on Paddle Georgia as it is the one day that we invite professionals and legislators to join us on the paddle and get a taste for the adventure and all our river restoration and protection programs.S

We were delighted and honored to be joined by Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Georgia as well as representatives from watershed coalitions and environmental groups throughout the state.

This was also our ‘Trash Cleanup Day’ led by P1050119Trash Queen Bonny Putney. In the 10.5 mile stretch that we paddled- the shortest day on the water- paddlers collected a whopping 2500 lbs of P1050116trash!

And boy did we find some interesting, hilarious, strange, and scary things. From a larger than life-sized Bart Simpson, a Big Wheel tire, balls of all sports and sizes to crates, tires, old glass bottles and creepy baby dolls. It’s amazing what finds itself in the river.S

P1040056But amongst all the trash, we found wildlife such as an adorable baby soft shell turtle as well as fascinating artifacts such as pottery shards, arrow heads, and milk glass.

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper team was P1050177instrumental in helping gather the large amount of trash overflowing from paddler’s kayaks and canoes with their snazzy motor boat.

Believe it or not, after 4 full days of paddling there were many pouty paddlers, who upon arriving at the take out wished that the day on the river was not over so soon.

Café Campesino’s delicious Ice Mochas and Fresh Fruit Smoothies awaited the sun-kissed paddlers – the perfect waP1050082y to ease into a lazy afternoon in a hammock with a book at Riverside Landing on the banks of the mighty Hooch.P1050185

Although the rain returned with a vengeance in the late afternoon, this didn’t put a damper on dinner and the informative ‘Politics of Water’ evening program.P1050226

It seems to just keep getting better with each passing day.

So glad to share it with everyone!

Keep on rollin’ on the river,

Gwyneth Moody

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PADDLE GEORGIA 2013 has SOLD OUT!

To be added to the wait list go to: http://paddlega13waitlist.eventbrite.com

For more exciting adventures with GRN – Mark your calendar for our 4 Seasons Hidden Gems Paddling Events:

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January 2013

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2013 Monthly Photo Showcase and GRN Staff Pick of the Month

GRN is excited to announce our ‘2013 Monthly Photo Showcase and GRN Staff Pick of the Month’. Each month we will have a different theme and invite you to send us a photo that youIMG_0861 2 think best represents the topic of the month.We will showcase everyone’s photos on our website and social media and one photo per month will receive the illustrious title of ‘GRN Staff Pick of the Month’ and the chosen photo’s author will receive a surprise token of gratitude.We will accept photo entries up until the third week of each month and announce the GRN staff pick and showcase all photo submissions the last week of each month.

IMG_2502January’s theme is:

* * * Favorite photo of 2012 * * *

So get those cameras poised and creative photo juices flowing and submit your January photo entry NOW to Gwyneth@garivers.org

Here is a sneak peek of the 2013 Monthly Themes:

  • January– Favorite photo of 2012
  • February– The love boat paddlers photo
  • March– Photo of a river problem that needs to be fixed
  • April– Best ‘Weekend For Rivers’ photo
  • May– Photo of creative way(s) of conserving water/How do you conserve water?
  • June– River wildlife tires 5 (2)photo
  • July– Favorite 2013 Paddle Georgia photo
  • August– Funniest paddling photo
  • September– Summer water fun with pet(s) photo
  • October– Protecting and cleaning up rivers photo
  • November– Fabulous fall colors photo
  • December– The gift of water photo
Georgia River Network
126 South Milledge Ave. Suite E3, Athens, GA 30605
706-549-4508
http://www.garivers.org
Become a Member Today – Join

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January 2013

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Congrats to 2012 Finishers! ~ 2013 Challenge is up!

Greetings 12 in 2012 Challengers!12th river - 12 fingers1Over 60 people took on our challenge to paddle 12 different Georgia rivers in 2012. And even though not everyone completed 12 rivers, everyone made a valiant effort and got out and enlt challenge tybee slough (2)joyed Georgia’s rivers.We are extremely proud of the 15 paddlers who did successfully complete the challenge and especially of those who went above and beyond…

One of those overachievers was Gerry Cowart who not only was the first to complete his 12 rivers, ACamp Dog1he went on to paddle 24 rivers by the end of 2012. Another avid paddler who ultimately paddled 20 rivers was Glen Smith, who went on a total of 50+ paddle trips during the year.Suzi Parron

Every paddler has their own unique experience when out on the water, which is why we asked challengers to submit their photos and stories. We loved following Mary Siceloff and Liz Williams’ blog about two close friends doing theA.Hughes challenge together. It was a true delight to hear about Suzi Parron’s strong passion for paddling that even a boot on her foot couldn’t keep her off the river. Bobby Marie made us proud with the photos capturing the immense amount of trash he picked up. It was inspiring to see the love bird couples Kyle & Andrea Camp and Lonny & Rhonda Amicalola Ledges 1 (2)Martin accomplishing the challenge together. Outdoor enthusiast, Patrick Phelps, persevered even when the temperatures started dropping and he was ready to move on to his other love – mountain biking. Photographer, Anne Ledbetter, captured some absolutely amazing photos on her paddling trips. We were excited to see Allison Hughes of GA Adopt-A-Stream share photos of her awesome adventures on both black and whitewater, too! And last but not least – our very own Joe Cook and April Ingle led by example and represented our Paddle GA/Georgia River Network team well when they paddled 12+ rivers each.

Millerlake and creek (2) 2So, kudos to each of the 12 in 2012 finishers! They are an inspiration to all of us here at Georgia River Network and beyond. We trust it was a fun challenge.

CONGRATS to Patrick Phelps the lucky winner of a FULL Weekend for Rivers Conference and Party Pass! And for those of y’all who have never attended this AWESOME experience don’t miss out!

Are y’all ready for the 2013 Georgia River Challenge?!

~ Take 13 People Paddling in 2013 ~

Share the joy of paddling Georgia’s rivers with friends and family who otherwise would not go on their own!

Georgia River Network is encouraging river lovers to celebrate Georgia’s rivers – familyrapidsfrom wild places to urban waterways – by taking 13 people paddling in 2013 who might not otherwise go on their own. Set your New Year’s resolution to get outside, get active and get to know your home state with friends and family. Georgia’s rivers offer a variety of experiences including family friendly afternoon paddles, riverside hikes, exciting whitewater and blackwater experiences.IMG_3173
The goal of this year’s ‘Take 13 People Paddling in 2013’ challenge is to promote Georgia’s growing water trail movement and send more people to the Georgia Water Trails Website to identify water trails to paddle, locate outfitters, find organized paddling trips or plan their own trip with friends and family who have little to know paddling experience.
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To join the list of paddlers participating, just send an email to gwyneth@garivers.org with your name and address to sign up.

When you have successfully completed the challenge by taking 13 people paddling on Georgia’s rivers, who otherwise would not go on their own, send in documentation about your trip including photos, stories, videos and/or poems about the rivers you explored and with whom. Send to gwyneth@garivers.org or to Georgia River Network, 126 South Milledge Ave. Suite E3, Athens, GA 30605. GRN will send you a sticker for your boat.
GRN reserves the right to reprint and reuse any documentation submitted. Georgia River Network’s Water Trails Website can help you find outfitters, events, organized trips, resources and a list of Georgia Water Trails to plan your own adventure.

Keep on rollin’ on the river….

Gwyneth Moody
Community Programs Coordinator
gwyneth@garivers.org
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Georgia River Network
126 South Milledge Ave. Suite E3, Athens, GA 30605
706-549-4508
http://www.garivers.org
Become a Member Today – Join

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By Maria Saporta

The Nature Conservancy — Georgia unveiled a New Year’s present Thursday when it announced that it has purchased 6,277 acres along the Altamaha River in Wayne County.

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The tract, known as Boyles Island, has been on the Nature Conservancy’s “wish list” for decades, according to the press release issued by conservation organization.

“I grew up in this area and actually learned to shoot a shotgun on Boyles Island at the tender age of eight, so I am personally proud of this land protection success,” said Mark Abner, director for the Nature Conservancy in Georgia. “A multi-partner effort made this transaction possible, and we are grateful to all the supporters who continue to help the Conservancy realize our vision on the Altamaha River and Georgia coast.”

Boyles Island spans 8.7 miles of the Altamaha River and features an extensive floodplain forest of oak-hickory bottomland and cypress-tupelo swamp, with isolated ridges of live oak and spruce pine, as well as creeks, sloughs and oxbow lakes.

This tract adjoins more than 106,000 acres of land that is already protected, filling a gap on the west side of a more than 40-mile long corridor that protects habitat along the Altamaha River. The contiguous corridor helps ensure the viability of many important species, including Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, prized recreational and commercial fisheries from the river channel to the saltwater coast; and bird life such as the rare swallow-tailed kite and numerous other migratory birds.

Protected land along the river helps the Georgia coast as well, improving water quality before it reaches the estuary and allowing natural, seasonal variations in water quantity and temperature to endure.

The Nature Conservancy is purchasing the land from Rayonier for $8 million. The Conservancy will also sell a restrictive easement, valued at $3.1 million, to the U.S. Marine Corps through the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) program, which was created by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and is used to create land-use buffers between communities and military activity that can also protect habitat and provide recreational lands.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will purchase the land for $4 million from the Nature Conservancy in two phases over the next year, ultimately creating an extension of the Penholoway Swamp Wildlife Management Area, which is open to the public for recreation.

Funds to purchase the land came from a variety of sources. The transaction offered an opportunity for the Nature Conservancy to use the Georgia Land Conservation Program’s Revolving Loan Fund, a low-interest loan program designed to help protect high-priority conservation lands administered by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

DNR has assembled funding from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Wetland grant, Knobloch Family Foundation grant, and state bond funds for its two-phase acquisition from the Conservancy. Together with the Marine Corps easement purchase, these funds will offset all but about $1 million of the purchase price, which the Conservancy is raising from private sources.

“Thanks to the many partners and supporters who worked tirelessly on this project, the citizens of Georgia will have new lands for outdoor recreation and Boyles Island will be preserved for generations to come,” said Mark Williams, DNR commissioner.

The Boyles Island tract has a long history as a private working forest, dating back to at least the 1930s when it was owned by Savannah River Lumber Company. For the past 40 years it has been owned and managed by Rayonier, which has periodically harvested hardwood timber while relying on its highly-fertile flood-nourished soils and natural revegetation patterns to sustain such activity.

“Boyles Island is an ecological treasure,” said Paul Boynton, chairman, president and CEO of Rayonier. “Its diversity of habitat and critical importance to migratory birds, together with its location connecting other public conservation lands, make it extremely unique. We are delighted to again work with the U.S. Department of Defense, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Nature Conservancy to successfully protect a special property. This transaction takes Rayonier’s conservation land program to well over 150,000 acres – more than 30,000 acres located in southeast Georgia.”

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Congrats to Suzi Parron for completing her 12 rivers in 2012!

She  paddled the following GA rivers:

Suzi ParronChattahoochee River – 1/7/12
Etowah River – 2/4/2012
Peachtree Creek – 4/7/12
Altamaha River – 4/20/12
Oconee River – 4/20/12
Ocmulgee River – 4/20/12
South River – 9/1/12
Tallapoosa River – 9/3/12
Conasauga River – 9/9/12
Coosawatee River – 9/9/12
Oostanaula River – 9/9/12
Ellijay River – 10/12/12

If you are inspired and want to see more photos of her adventures click HERE!Six weeks in a boot won't keep me off the river

Experience the journeys of the 12 in 2012 Challengers through their stories and photos HERE.

And if lo and behold you have not signed up for our newsletters you can do so by clicking HERE!

Make sure to also peruse our Water Trails Website when searching and planning for your next paddling adventure. It’s a great a place to find out about water trails, paddling events and trips, and outfitters and amenities throughout the State.

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River Friend,

We accomplished a lot together in 2012 and had one great time too. Cannualreportheck out GRN’s successes and watch through our 2012 Annual Report video.

Help us continue our work together in 2013 by making a contribution today!

Your Georgia River Network Friends

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