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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia river network’

What do legislators, trash and unicorns have in common?

Day 6 of Paddle Georgia finds the paddle participants on the river with invited professionals and Georgia legislators. This popular day had professionals from Sierra Club, PG15-Day 6100 Miles, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Josh Findlay from US Reps Jody Hice’s office. The new “fresh” paddlers gave all of us an opportunity to share “our” river with them and talk about the beautiful journey we have been on this week.PG15-Day 6 Yes, it feels like we know this river. We have bumped and shimmied and danced around her trees. We have bathed in her cool, clear amber water. We have lounged on her many large, CLEAN, sugar sandbars. I think I can speak for many a paddler who is very sad to see this journey coming to the end and promise to come back.

CLEAN, yes in caps… the cleanest river IPG15-Day 6 have ever been on…period. Being the “Trash Queen” I guess I can be considered sort of an expert. Today, Thursday, is our Paddle Georgia river trash cleanup. I was so fortunate to have past PG participant Christine Kirkland from Effingham County Schools contact me and offer to help me with our cleanup months ago.PG15-Day 6 Not only did she and fellow teacher Lauren Osborne arrange for the dumpster, they also made sure we had a party! The generous people of Effingham County thanked the PG paddlers with food, cold drinks, T-shirts and much merriment. Even in this clean river we managed to bring in around 1,500lbs of river trash.

O yeah….Unicorns… yes unicorns. There has been a unicorn appearing on the side of the river on various paddling days. I included a picture, and just for the record I had absolutely nothing to do with this appearance.PG15-Day 6Lots of people have seen it, and yes it is alive, yes it is kind of silly, and maybe even a little weird. But when I first saw it, just for a split second, I believed it was magic. The Ogeechee can do that.

Bonny Putney, Georgia River Network Board Member

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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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catawba 2Today was our longest paddle at a little over twenty miles. With 5 successful and exuberant days behind us, everyone’s confidence level and enthusiasm in being a part of, and continuing this awe-inspiring journey was soaring high.catawba 1

Evan Newman even convinced his parents that he was fine to continue paddling after breaking his finger the previous evening while horsing around!

Now that’s what I call a kid having a blast on the river…

Joe Kidd caught a Catawba caterpillar that he explained is a favorite food of many fish, as it commonly drops into the river from the leguminous Catawba tree leaves it munches on. The Catawba tree is a popular tree planted along rivers by fisherman looking to use the ‘worm’ as bait.

turtle 3Some of the wildlife seen along the way demonstrated the not so peachy parasitic side of life, including a swing 1leach attached to a baby yellow-bellied slider turtle. Every organism has its own unique role to play in the web of life.

P1050486Another interesting sight was the white egg cases of the Dobsonfly dotting the underside of trees and leaves along the riverbank. These little aquatic insects hatch out and drop into the water as nymphs and are fearsome top invertebrate predators with well-developed jaws. After one to three years they pupate into flying adults, mate, lay eggs and begin the life cycle again.

The sun came out in all its glory and paddlers were quick to leap out of their boats to enjoy the various rope swings along the way.

P1050733Of all the mascots gracing paddler’s boats the most historic was a photo of 19th century Naturalist, William Bartram who Georgia River Network board member, rain 1Dorinda Dallmeyer said she always takes with her on paddling trips.

After getting our dose of sun, refreshing rain showers moved in overhead giving the water a silvery hue speckled with sculptural like water droplets.

P1050889We ended our day on the river at Chattahoochee Bend State Park where we were welcomed with open arms, cold watermelon, and refreshing drinks.

Oh so delicious! P1060016

We were also excited and honored to have Georgia House of Representatives Natural Resource Committee Chair, Lynn Smith; Eagle Scout, Harrison Blair, and DNR Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites Division Director, Becky Kelley show their support and pay us a visit.

After a fun-filled day on the river, a short rejuvenating nap on the bus was just what some people needed to be energized for the ‘No Talent Show’ that took place later in the evening.IMG_8915

P1060025The talent show was a big hit with performances ranging from horse-head hoola-hooping, acapella trio’s, and a recorder virtuoso, to comedy routines and a hilarious, skit celebrating Georgia River Network’s Executive Director, April Ingle and some of her memorably funny moments on Paddle Georgia over the last 10 years.P1060170

P1060258So sad that we have only one more day on the Chattahoochee River! But what amazing memories we will have to take back home with us!

 

 

Keep on rollin’ on the river ~

Gwyneth Moody

 

 

 

 

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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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AP1030923fter a taste of the week ahead, day 2 of Paddle Georgia 2014 started out with even more excitement than the first!

We set out for the days’ 15 mile adventure on Jones Bridge Shoals with gP1040058uidance from our savvy safety boaters. The chilly water splashed our faces giving everyone a second burst of energy.

Many paddlers took Joe Cook’s challenge of awarding a prize to whoever collected the most golf balls very seriously and could be seen braving the frigid water to collect their bounty of white gold.

The beautiful sunny hot weather felt amazing, and a cool spray-down from the devilish Paddle Georgia Pirates was a welcome reprieve to some and a jolting shock to others.

Paddlers have great pride in their personal canoes and kayaks and outfit their boats not only with fancy piratesseats and fishing rods, but also mascots of all shapes and sizes.  From Godzilla and King Kong to roses and flamingos, nothing is too geeky or posh for Paddle Georgian’s.P1040006

Although we are paddling through metro Atlanta, abundant wildlife could be seen above and below the  water. Red Shouldered Hawks, Mallard Ducks, Pileated woodpeckers, Spottail shiner, Yellow-Bellied Slifish boyder turtles, Crane Fly larvae,  Muskrat, and River Otter are just a few of the critters paddlers reported seeing along the way.P1040087

One of the awe-inspiring aspects of Paddle Georgia is the number of families that participate year after year and who have made this an essential part of their summer vacation. Georgia River Network’ staff have watched kids grow from boisterous bouncy boys and girls into mature young men and women in the 10 years Paddle Georgia  has been in existence.

The day ended with informative and entertaining presentations by Naturalist Drew Lanhan, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Sally Bethea, and yours truly about Georgia Water Trails.P1040133

Looking forward to another  fabulous day on the Hooch tomorrow!

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

Gwyneth Moody
Community Programs Coordinator,
Georgia River Network

 

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A beautiful mist shrouded the river as participants first set paddle on the Chattahoochee at Settles BridgeP1030471. The water was crystal clear and the river bottom lined with colorful gravel and gnarled drift wood.  So refreshing and majestic….

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) Youth group, most of whom had never paddled before, were a bit hesitant to set out at first, but as soon as they hit the river they paddled their canoes as if dancing onP1030529 the water- smiling from ear to ear. Be sure to check out the Paddle Georgia Youth Blogspot blog throughout the week.P1030572

Ichthyologist Camm Swift was quick to find a Sucker Fish, that he explained was most likely freshly skewered by a Great Blue Heron and accidentally dropped back into the river.

And speaking of fresh fish, kayak fishing in Georgia has grP1030796own exponentially in popularity in recent years,  and Paddle Georgia paddlers are no exception.

Rainbow and Brown Trout are two of the most popular  fish caught by sport fisherman in Metro Atlanta as a result of the rP1030825elease of water from the bottom of  Buford Dam, which has changed the historic warm waters of the river to a chilly 48 degrees and in turn the species of fish that are able to live here. Participants learned more about this at Buford Trout Hatcherythe Buford Trout Hatchery today, where millions of trout are stocked into the Chattahoochee and other Georgia rivers each year.P1030739

But the frigid water didn’t stop kids and adults alike from whipping out their super-soakers and squirt guns and spraying each other down mercilessly with glee- Yippee!

sWhat an amazing first day on the Chattahoochee river…P1030854

The evening was also filled with excitement as Georgia River Network Development Director, Davin Welter announced that 39 canoe-A-thoners raised a stunning $44,000 this year, the most we have ever raised yet!  WOW!!!

Terry Pate took the gold again this year, raising $6,205; followed by John Branch, Tom Beman and James Watson with assistance from his dad Tim.P1030887

We are so very thankful for everyone’s hard work, support and success in taking on this challenge with such vigor and enthusiasm!

So excited about tomorrow’s journey!

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

Gwyneth Moody

 

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