Weekend for Rivers Presentations 2013

Castor canadensis

Presenter: Dawn Ellerman
An overview of the life history and ecology of the American Beaver.

Lower Flint River - Education and Recreation

Presenters: John Michael Cassidy and Ryan Smith            Contributor: Matt Hanner
The presenters will highlight programming and recreational activities on the Lower Flint River that are offered by Darton State College to the student body and local community. The Flint River and its major tributaries provide an excellent classroom for multiple educational/recreational programs: “Blue Hole Ecology,” academic classes, Outdoor Adventure Club outings, and service projects. We will also highlight an overview of the environmental, geographical, and social elements that contribute to the make-up of the Lower Flint River.  The Lower Flint, like the Suwannee River, is steeped in history, large springs, karst environment, and abundant flora/fauna typical of the Floridian Aquifer.

Our Common Waters

Presenter: Leigh Bost
Leigh will talk about Patagonia and how the company uses their mission statement to generate environmental action.  Every couple of years, Patagonia takes on a campaign around an environmental issue.  This last campaign focuses on the scarcity of water and broken rivers: Our Common Waters campaign.  Leigh will also talk about Patagonia's local environmental efforts to help our rivers in Georgia.

Adventure Races and Homemade Boats

Presenter: John Craun
There are no major long distance paddling races (adventure type) in Georgia at this time. The Savannah River between Augusta and Savannah would be an ideal place for a long distance/adventure type paddling race. John is working with the Savannah River Keeper, community organizations, and businesses to put together a major race of this type. John makes his own kayaks, canoes and paddles. He will have a few of them with him and talk some about boat building as well a the Savannah River race.

A Call to Action

Presenter: Dorinda Dallmeyer
A Macon native, Dorinda Dallmeyer describes how her yearning to travel on the Altamaha River figured in her childhood in the 1950s and 60s. In 2012, she was finally able to live that dream as part of Paddle Georgia 2012. Her experiences were both dreamworld and nightmare, spurring her efforts to protect the Altamaha and all Georgia's rivers for generations yet to come.

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Cleaning Up the Wilderness

Presenter: Jason DuPont
Off Grid Expeditions is Georgia’s newest river protection organization whose mission is to to one day be able to paddle the rivers of Georgia trash-free! Founded by best friends Jason DuPont and Brian Wooten in 2007 to fight the ever-growing concern of trash in our rivers and waterways, Off Grid Expeditions and a small group of volunteers year round to clean up our rivers.

Zen and the Art of River Mapping

Presenter: Ben Emanuel
I've been fortunate in 2012 to have been tasked with doing deep learning about a sub-basin of a Georgia river. Part of researching river flows and water infrastructure in the Upper Flint has been the task of "permit immersion," a term coined by Gordon Rogers. Permit immersion is the process of retrieving all municipal water withdrawal permits in the Upper Flint basin from the Georgia EPD. Part of the process has been learning from staff at public water utilities how their water systems function–with more complexity than you might think–and seeking out the Zen state of understanding the "plumbing" of water infrastructure on a basin-wide scale.

After lots of coffee and twists and turns, I got there. This is the story of how I learned the plumbing.

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Getting Their Feet Wet: Paddle Georgia Youth Program

Presenters: Alicia Evans and Joey Giunta
Take a minute to think back to your first meaningful experience in the outdoors. We would bet that water was involved somehow. Did your experiences as a youth help shape your feelings of the outdoors as an adult? For five years we have been volunteering with Georgia River Network to lead under-served youth from around Georgia on Paddle Georgia. In this session we'll share the history of this effort, research on children and the outdoors, some of our favorite stories and quotes from our participants, and talk about what the future holds for this program.

Nature, Beauty and Math: How Science and Art Arrive at the Same Conclusions

Presenter: Kathryn Kolb
Kathryn describes the interesting intersection where aesthetically beautiful design, healthy ecosystems and the fascinating math of circularity meet as one and the same.

The still evolving history of the legal right to paddle down a river, from the Magna Carta to Ichuawaynochaway

Presenter: Dan MacIntyre
I have given bits and pieces of this at various presentations I have made through the years, but never had the time and context to do it in a systematic manner.  I find it fascinating, but then again, I am a lawyer.  At a recent conference in Porterdale, I told more of this story than I ever have before, and several people told me afterward, in a way that I think was more than just being polite, that they enjoyed it.  The bottom line of this presentation is advocacy for paddling trails.

Navigating Uncertainty to Strengthen Connections with these and Future Rivers

Presenter: Richard Milligan
The IPCC, EPA, NOAA, and USGS each forecast escalating challenges for managing southeastern water resources in the near future. Climate models suggest the need for rapid changes in water and energy resource governance in our region if we are to avoid serious ecological, economic, and social consequences of water scarcity. Across the state, folks are working to adapt to stark realities of climate change which include decreasing water supply and increasing stress on Georgia’s waters. Responding to these challenges requires sustained and energetic vigilance, especially as we navigate the denial and demoralization that can rise on a flood of dire projections. However, in our commitments to make change, it is important that we also pause to reckon with the underlying frameworks that orient our conservation politics. Anyone working to protect Georgia’s rivers knows that these shifting conditions are bound to exacerbate unsustainable relations we’ve maintained with our rivers for too long. A growing number of geographers have raised concerns about the broader social ramifications of particular ways of framing environmental issues. While such diversion may seem untimely as we drift nearer shoals of ecological emergency, revisiting foundational environmental frameworks can help us to strategically connect our work with the currents of other social and political action for change. This presentation will meander through some academic discussions along these lines and outline my own research on the Altamaha River System, hopefully stirring up productive and recharging eddies for reflection. The goal is to open dialogue about strategies for broadening and deepening our connections to rivers as we continue in efforts to branch out to diverse communities in our watersheds, to steer our leaders along courses of responsible action, and to draw more people into the riparian state of mind.

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On the Satilla in the Spring Flood

Presenters: Bryan Nuse, Rick Milligan, and Ben Emmanuel
Ten years ago, the three of us initiated an attempt to survey Georgia’s rivers by canoe. We wanted to create a sort of snapshot of the rivers’ ecology by going out there and writing down everything we could about plants, birds, and whatever we could set down in our Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks. We hoped to survey every river in the state, and we planned to survey them in the most minute detail. Eventually we came to a more-or-less sustainable protocol that we have since conducted on the Flint, Ocmulgee, Oconee, Altamaha, and Savannah rivers, but as we set out on our first river, the Satilla, we were both over-ambitious and under-prepared. The Satilla taught us a few lessons about beans and rice, mosquitoes, chiggers, poison ivy, the explosive fecundity of Georgia’s riparian environments, and taking it slow.

In addition to recounting some of the wonders we experienced paddling and naturalizing for about twenty days on Georgia’s largest blackwater river—its thick swamps and remarkable sandhills, its Ogeechee limes and plenitude of prothonotary warblers—this talk will review some of the hijinks and the hardships that came to pass when a few novices set out after a pretty heavy flood for Woodbine from way up in Atkinson county on a roughly 200-mile natural history excursion down the Satilla.

Gaining Public Support for Protecting Water

Presenter: Luke Owen
The presentation will remind the audience that we have forgotten, or not been made aware of, America’s environmental and economic track record due to poor land and water management practices.

Historically, Georgia watersheds were converted from pristine biologically rich gardens and waterways, into polluted pools and contaminated ditches so full of sediment, human waste and chemicals that they were unfishable, unswimable, unthinkable!  Many of our watersheds suffered beyond their individual ability to clean themselves out.  Unfortunately, when people observe many of our Georgia Rivers during or after a rain event, they see muddy water and believe that’s the way it’s always been.  Most people do not know that two hundred years ago, well before the industrial revolution, the agricultural age (timber harvesting and crop production) created much of the Georgia muddy water that we see today. Top soils were washed off of the uplands in such large volumes as to fill up valleys, creating bogs and wetlands, where creeks, streams and rivers once freely flowed.  Later, in the 20th century, human waste and chemicals created a similar catastrophe.  Modern day construction has heaped more sediment onto an already stressed watershed. Today, many countries outside of America’s borders are suffering through the same environmental tragedies that America has already recovered from. The country of Haiti, for instance, has lost most of its top soils due to deforestation. The absence of top soils has created an environmental and resultant economic disaster, from which it is almost impossible to find the way out. In America however, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws are responsible for a recovery of our land and water resources unrivaled in the world today.

River Poetry

Presenter: Keith Parsons
Original poetry by Keith Parsons.

Protecting South Georgia Rivers

Presenter: John Quarterman
This presentation will chronicle a group of South Georgia  citizens’ efforts to protect the Willachoochee, Withlachoochee, Alapaha and Little rivers in South Georgia. John Quarterman will talk about why a watershed group was needed and the lessons learned in the first year of protecting these special watersheds.

River, Wash Me Clean

Presenter: Christine Rodick
"River, wash me clean" is an audio and video collection of stories told by people who have either been baptized on rivers, were part of river baptisms or have had experiences on rivers that they would characterize as religious.  Religious in this sense does not necessarily mean that one has to be affiliated with any particular religious group.  While the focus is on Southeastern rivers, there are a few international stories.  The purpose of the presentation at Weekend for Rivers is to give a short historical perspective of how local rivers were a part of religious life, and how they remain so today.  We will not show or air any of the stories during this presentation, as films and audio are currently being edited.  We are looking for a few more stories to include in this project.  If you are interested in sharing your story, and it meets our criteria for inclusion, we would like to hear it.

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When a Creek Ceases to Flow, What Happens Next?

Presenter: Gordon Rogers
When a creek ceases to flow, a predictable series of physical and biological events unfold. While humans may cause the disruption, much of the change occurs in the non-human realm. However, what also happens is a subtle set of cultural and social events, disruptions, frequently not chronicled, and generally poorly understood outside of a small group of people. Gordon will explore the human and non-human effects of what happens when we dewater our creeks and rivers, and offer hope for healing.

The Blackwater Song

Presenter: Quint Rogers
A poem about the Satilla River.

New EPD Local Wetland Protection Guidebook

Presenter: Katie Sheehan
Protecting water and the values it provides means preserving both is quantity and quality.  Wetlands, which are present in every part of Georgia but are suffering impacts from land use changes, development, climate change, and other human-induced stressors, are unsurpassed in their influence on water quantity and quality.  They also provide a myriad of other services, such as habitat, flood control, and recreation.  Federal laws are in place to protect some wetlands, but in recent years the coverage of these laws has been diminished.  Even wetlands that are covered by federal laws can still be legally degraded or converted so long as a permit is obtained.  States may enact stricter wetland protection laws, but most, including Georgia, have not done so.  Local governments can, however, adopt their own non-regulatory and regulatory wetland protection programs to conserve and restore these vital ecosystems.  Indeed, in many ways local governments are uniquely equipped to protect the wetlands in their communities.  

In collaboration with the University of Georgia River Basin Center (RBC) (part of the Odum School of Ecology), Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Department of Natural Resources has developed a new guidance document for Georgia communities interested in developing regulatory and non-regulatory wetland protection programs.  The guidebook, written by RBC Legal Fellow Katie Sheehan, provides basic information on wetlands, existing protection tools and authority, non-regulatory and regulatory protection programs, funding opportunities, and tips for avoiding legal challenges.  It also includes case studies on existing community wetland programs throughout the country.

This presentation will provide an overview of some of the more commonly utilized non-regulatory and regulatory local wetland protection programs, including inventories, restoration, incentives, federal permit verification, local permit programs, and zoning.  This basic overview will give participants a general idea of the breadth of options available for protecting community wetlands, and will be presented in an interactive manner that engages participants.

A River's Education

Presenter: Ken Suttles
This session will focus on what I have learned from from my river experiences and how I used that education to play a small part in helping to promote the wonders of Georgia's greatest river. I will compare and contrast the Mississippi with the Altamaha River and hopefully expand your appreciation of how fortunate we are in Georgia and why the work we are all doing is so important.

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A River’s Story: Reclaiming the Altamaha

Presenters: Robby Arrington
This presentation will feature a video about the pollution of Georgia's largest river system by Rayonier Inc. in Jesup, Georgia,  which  offers opportunities for  improving water quality through the new discharge permit.  ARK’s new Riverkeeper Robby Arrington will give an update on the Rayonier discharge and permit process, and talk about ARK's plans to establish volunteer water quality monitoring throughout the Altamaha watershed.

Amos’ Odyssey: A Journey through the Upper Coosa River Basin

Presenter: Amos Tuck
In this presentation, Amos will discuss his 200 mile paddle trip down the Conasauga, Coosawattee, Oostanaula, and Coosa Rivers. The presentation will involve a slide show of photography and a few videos and will cover highlights of the trip emphasizing the incredible biodiversity and unique beauty of the basin.

Swim the River

Presenter: Emily Horton
This presentation will introduce the audience to the beauty, biodiversity, and importance of the Coosa River shared by Georgia and Alabama. It will provide a brief overview of the Coosa River and will include original music, inspired by a local citizen who is upset that her grandchildren can no longer swim in the Coosa like she did as a child due to pollution. During the song, a slideshow will be played containing inspiring photographs that Emily and other river advocates have taken of the Coosa River Basin in both Alabama and Georgia. To close, the audience will be asked a trivia question related to the presentation and the winner will receive a river-inspired pottery piece, lovingly crafted by Emily.

Keeping it Wild

Presenter: Erica Weaver
How we do or don't think about water in our everyday lives and the effect it has on streams and rivers.

Legislation on Water Issues at the 2013 GA General Assembly

Presenter: Neill Herring
Neill will be giving an update on legislation related to water issues at this year's GA General Assembly.

Fishes of the Chattahoochee

Presenter: Michael Wolfe
Michael Wolfe from the North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA) will provide a brief overview of some of the lesser known native fishes found in the Chattahoochee.  These will include a variety of fishes that normally go unnoticed by most people as they pass the creeks and streams that flow into the Chattahoochee.  He will also provide some life history and biological details about how these fishes go about making a living in the steam and what you can do to observe them and help them.

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