|Trails in the News
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Spring has sprung and people are flocking outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather! Calendars are filling up and Water Trail groups are planning some great paddling events. We are busy bees here at Georgia River Network as we head full stroke into the season preparing for our upcoming events.
Take note that our annual conference ‘Weekend for Rivers 2017’ on April 28-29 will include a Special Workshop Series on Water Trail Development including: Funding, Permitting, Launch Design, Marketing, and Benchmarks for Building a Successful GA Water Trail. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity and help spread the word!
We also are excited about our success in passage of House Resolution 281 – a Statewide Water Trails Resolution of Support during this legislative session (see article below for more details) and want to give a HUGE shout out to representative Spencer Frye for his dedication and support!
We also continue to provide intensive technical support to Georgia’s Little River Water Trail, Flint River Water Trail and the Upper Oconee Water Trail and are excited about the progress being made!
We hope to see you on a GA Water Trail in 2017 and at one of our exciting events! Please let me know if you have an event you would like us to help promote and share on our Statewide Calendar.
-Gwyneth Moody, Director of Programs and Outreach
Trails in the News
Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trails Update
By Susan Heisey, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
After a dry fall and winter, the Okefenokee Water Trails continue to be impacted by low water. The fall months (October/November) recorded lower water levels than had been seen in at least the past 5 years, closing many trails and overnight stops to public access and issuing a burn ban for a short period of time as well due to high fire danger. After pretty consistent rains through December and January, much of the trails were reopened and routine trail maintenance was conducted on the majority of the trails. With spring in full swing, water levels are again dipping to levels where we are considering closing down trails and overnight stops. Since March and April are the busiest time of the year for day use and overnight canoe trips, we hope to make it through the season with minimal financial impacts, however, one of the most popular overnight stops, Floyds Island remains closed due to low water. Just now getting into fire season, we are hoping that the spring will bring enough afternoon thunderstorms to regulate water levels.
Find out more about the Okefenokee Wilderness Area Canoe Trail on our website.
Lower Chattooga River Kayak Trail - Did You Know There Is Another Chattooga River in GA?
By Josh Wyatt, Town of Lyerly
The Lower Chattooga River Kayak and Canoe Trail is currently trying to become an established water trail. Since 2013 the water trail has begun to flourish into a paddlers paradise. The Lower Chattooga River Kayak and Canoe Trail begins at the launch on Lyerly Dam Road, in the Town of Lyerly, Georgia. The water trail is 7.5 miles and ends at the take out point on Holland-Chattoogaville Road. The two launch sites have many amenities such as parking, solar powered waterless restrooms, boat slips, picnic tables, and trashcans, which were installed last summer.
Josh Wyatt, Mayor of Lyerly commented on the benefits of the facilities, "Over the last year the water-less solar powered restrooms at both launches were completed, and concrete steps alongside the boat launches were added. We also placed picnic tables and trash cans at both sites along with informational kiosks. Signage pointing the way to both launches was placed
along GA Highway 114. The work on the launches was done by the Town of Lyerly, in part by a grant from GA DNR, with help from the Coosa River Basin Initiative and Chattooga County Public Works and the Town of Lyerly maintains the launches. As word has gotten out about the trail usage has really picked up and we are seeing upwards of 40 kayakers using the trail over the course of some holiday weekends in the summer, but it’s still pretty easy to find a day to have the trail all to yourself if one wanted to."
For more information on the Lower Chattooga River Kayak and Canoe Trail visit the Lyerly Town Website and the Lower Chattooga River Facebook page!
Coming Soon! The Newest Feature of the Yellow River Water Trail
By Bob Thomson, Village of Porterdale
With a granted easement, Porterdale will soon have access to class I and II rapids below the mill dam. It's part of a long-range plan developed when the Porterdale team won a scholarship from the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta to attend the prestigious "Balance Commerce and Nature in Rural Communities" training sponsored by the national office of the Conservation Fund at the US Fish and Wildlife ConservatIon Training Center in Shepardstown, WV.
Ochlockonee River Water Trail Update
By Margaret Tyson
The Ochlockonee River Water Trail continues to make progress towards its goal of an official Georgia Water Trail. Recently we were awarded a $1000 grant for development of a kiosk at the Hadley Ferry Bridge landing. It will display a map of the trail and highlight the plant and animal life to be found on this 4 mile section ending at Dickey Ferry landing. This month ORWT, along with others entities in Grady County are meeting with representatives of Georgia Tourism to discuss how to highlight the trail as a destination in SW Georgia. We also have taken the final steps for incorporation and will file this month. Last but not least a few members and visitors took to the river for clearing and cleanup (see photo). It was a great day and lots of fun.
For more information visit the Ochlockonee River Water Trail Facebook page.
Area High School Students Create Logo for Georgia's Little River Water Trail
McDuffie Progress March 30, 2017
Statewide Water Trails Resolution of Support Passes Unanimously
House Resolution 281, assigned to the Natural Resources & Environment Committee, passed unanimously on March 9, 2017. HR 281, a resolution in support of Statewide Water Trails, recognizes and encourages the proliferation and use of water trails in Georgia.
Establishing water trails and the creation of new opportunities for public enjoyment of state waters is supported by the Georgia Water Coalition as addressed in the 2017 biennial report: “All Georgians and visitors to the state should have opportunities to enjoy recreation on Georgia’s waters. One way to improve the public’s access to and enjoyment of state waters is to establish and fund a statewide water trail system. Water trails provide extremely cost-effective recreation opportunities and are dynamic creators of tourism and economic development in rural areas. Users of trails often become dedicated advocates for rivers.”
We would like to thank Representative Spencer Frye, Representative Lynn Smith, Chairman of Natural Resources & Environment Committee, Representative Tom McCall, Chairman of Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee, Representative David Knight, Chairman of Games, Fish & Parks Committee, Representative Chuck Williams, Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee, Representative Debbie Buckner, Natural Resources & Environment Committee.
Georgia’s Nascent Water Trail Network Garners Support From State Lawmakers
Excerpted from the Saporta Report, By David Pendered
At the end of a dirt path that touches the Yellow River in Newton County, one piece of the future of Georgia’s network of water trails is taking shape – a network that now has the blessings of the state House of Representatives.
Abe’s Landing is at mile 33 of the 53-mile Yellow River Water Trail. The water trail begins near Lilburn, at Five Forks Trickum Road, and ends at Jackson Lake. According to a description of the water trail, it passes beneath bridge columns that date to the Civil War; a working train trestle; and I-20, where Abe’s Landing is being improved. Critters living along the water trail include great blue heron, North American river otters and American Beavers.
Like all of Georgia’s water trails, this one was developed by a public/private partnership. This group includes Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful; Porterdale, a former mill town said to have been the world’s largest producer of twine; Newton County; Newton’s Water and Sewerage Authority; Yellow River Water Trail Partnership; Georgia Adopt-a-Stream; National Park Service; Northeast Georgia Regional Commission; and Georgia River Network.
“We try to bring in anybody and everybody,” said Gwyneth Moody, director of programs and outreach for the Georgia River Network
The House approved a resolution March 9 that endorses efforts by the Georgia River Network and its partners to create water trails. The resolution provides no funding.
But in a state that doesn’t provide funding for a statewide water trails program, the resolution sponsored by Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) is seen as a step in the right direction.
“People come to an area to get on a water trail and spend money in restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and gas stations, and all of that benefits the community, “ Moody said. “One thing we encourage is for partnerships to incorporate other points of interest into marketing materials, so when people come they have other things to do. They may spend a day paddling and decide to stay an extra day to see an awesome nature center or other destination.”
As Georgia continues to develop water trails, it is joining a nationwide movement, Moody said.
“Water trails are definitely growing to not only increase opportunities for recreation in a community, but to increase health and well-being,” she said.
Read the full article in the Saporta Report HERE.
Chattahoochee Valley Blueway Adds ADA Accessible Fishing Dock
By Susan Patterson, Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land is proposing the creation of a water trail along the Chattahoochee River. The proposed water trail will highlight the river as the center of a recreation and natural resource program as well as a stimulus for ecotourism and economic development in the Chattahoochee Valley region extending 50 plus miles from West Point, Georgia to Phenix City, Alabama and Columbus, Georgia.
An estimated 8-10 identified canoe/kayak launch locations would be scattered over the upstream section that precedes the recreational lakes, and would be designated access points that would be surrounded by parks, greenspaces, camping and fishing sites and other amenities along the river. Construction of easily accessible portages around the existing dams will act to create one long continuous ‘blue thread’ of a recreational addling and recreation trail from West Point Dam and the three cities of Valley (AL), Lanett (AL), and West Point (GA) in the north and funneling southward to the 2.5 mile whitewater paddling course in Columbus.
Find out more about the Chattahoochee Valley Blueway on our Water Trails website.
South River Water Trail Groundbreaking at Panola Shoals
Excerptd from South River Watershed Alliance Newsletter
On Thursday, March 16th, DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Johnson, DeKalb County Parks and Recreation, and South River Watershed Alliance held a groundbreaking ceremony for the South River Water Trail launch at Panola Shoals. From this site, canoeist and kayakers will have safe and legal access to the South River. A seating and picnicking area for those who just want to sit and enjoy a bite to eat while gazing at the river is also planned. SRWA owes a depth of gratitude to Commissioner Johnson for her financial support and commitment to this project and Georgia River Network for the time and effort given to help SRWA plan for this day. The 6.5 mile stretch of South River from Panola Shoals to the Everett Property will be the first leg of the SRWT. When complete, the water trail will extend from Panola Shoals to Jackson Lake, a distance of 40.1 miles. Construction of the launch is scheduled to begin in about two month and should be completed by late summer.
Grant Will Increase Access to the Dub Denman Canoe Trail
Excerpted from the Times-Georgian - By Laura Camper
Grow Haralson recently received a grant to create another paved access point to the Dub Denman Canoe Trail on the Tallapoosa River in Haralson County, according to officials.
Patrick Clarey, planning coordinator for the city of Tallapoosa, said the $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of West Georgia will be used to build the third paved launch off Georgia 100 adjacent to the Haralson County Water Works. This ramp will be built differently than the other ramps to allow the Department of Natural Resources to more easily access the river with their jon boats, Clarey said. The others have stairs but this will be ramp all the way down, he said.
This is the second grant awarded to create the trail. In 2013, Clarey applied for a state grant through a partnership between the city and Haralson County. Haralson County provided the $40,000 in-kind match, Clarey said. The inspiration for the trail came from its namesake Dub Denman. Denman brought the idea to county and city officials and persisted until it was built, Clarey said.
To read the full article visit here!
Upper Oconee Water Trail Making Steady Progress
By Diane Windam, Upper Oconee Watershed Network
After a short hiatus, the Upper Oconee Water Trail reorganized in April 2016. The Upper Oconee Water Trail is technically housed under the recreation committee of the Upper Oconee Watershed Network.
Gwyneth Moody (Georgia River Network) is providing technical assistance and became Co-chair along with Diane Windham (Upper Oconee Watershed Network) in 2016.
The Upper Oconee Water Trail is made up of various stakeholders in the Northeast Georgia community who are interested in establishing a water trail on the Upper Oconee Watershed. Some of the stakeholders include: Athens Clarke County Unified Government, the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission, UGA Office of Sustainability, UGA College of Environmental Design, Upper Oconee Watershed Network, Georgia River Network, Lake Oconee Water Watch, Athens Area Paddlers, and numerous private citizens. These stakeholders provide a wealth of eclectic skills and diversity on the committee.
Their most successful accomplishment to date was the installation of the Ben Burton launch ramp on the Middle Oconee River funded by a grant from The Riverview Foundation, as well as smaller grants from Upper Oconee Watershed Network (via a Paddle Georgia grant from the Georgia River Network) and Athens Clarke County Unified Government (ACCUG), and the Greenway Commission.
The stakeholders continue to evaluate future launch sites. The number one priority at this time is to locate a take-out site further down the Middle Oconee River that will provide recreational boats a reasonable distance to paddle and a safe egress from the river. Significant progress has been made on public information and mapping of the entire Upper Oconee watershed and a detailed map of Athens Clarke County has been completed which includes prospective launch sites. We have currently submitted a TSPLOST proposal to the ACCUG to fund a ramp along the Greenway and have had discussions with DNR about a future ramp site.
What are their future goals? They would like to establish three additional launch sites above and below Ben Burton Park on the Middle Oconee River. We would also like to establish four launch sites on the North Oconee River. At the point in time when the White Dam is removed on the Middle Oconee River, we would like to establish a launch site below the confluence. It would be extremely advantageous to create a site near this location that would include camping as an option for anglers and paddlers, so that multi-day paddles could become an option to explore lower portions of the river. We would also like to create safe portage around the Tallahassee Dam and the Barnett Shoals Dam. Then paddlers could safely traverse all ninety-eight river miles of the Upper Oconee Water Trail.
Learn more on the website UOWT.org and get involved by emailing UpperOconeeWaterTrail@gmail.com
Weekend For Rivers and GWC Spring Partner Meeting April 28-29, 2017
Georgia River Network’s Annual Weekend for Rivers Conference and River Celebration Awards Party will be held in conjunction with the Georgia Water Coalition's Spring Partner Meeting. This will be a fun and informal gathering to celebrate rivers, network with river lovers and dive deeper into the work of ensuring healthy rivers.
There will be many workshops and presentations offered, but a few will be specifically geared towards developing and maintaining water trails.
Turn your Community into a River Town - Build a Water Trail! – Gwyneth Moody, Georgia River Network
Bring Tourism to Your Town by Learning the Key Elements of Creating a Successful water Trail
Is there a paddle-able river in your community that no one knows about or is thought of negatively as “that place where the riffraff hangout and I’m never gonna bring my kids?” Does your community need revitalization in the areas of recreation, river health, and economic development? How about changing this negative perception into a positive by developing your local river into a water trail and changing your community into a River Town where your river brings in tourism and is celebrated! In this workshop you will learn the key elements necessary to develop a successful water trail.
FUNding your Water Trail Projects – Cheryl Delk, RLA, Newton County Board of Commissioners; Yellow River Water Trail
The Honest Ups and Downs of Accessing Funding for Planning Your Water Trail
This workshop will give examples and walk you through the process of accessing grants, other government funding, the importance of grass root support, and master planning your river trail projects. The presentation will take a specific grant application such as Recreational Trail Program and Land and Water Conservation Funding administered through the GA Department of Natural Resources, and SPLOST and talk you through it, utilizing the history of our Yellow River Water Trail non-profit and our collaboration with local, state, and federal agencies. FUNding is somewhat of an oxymoron … the honest ups and downs will be shared.
Build the Perfect Launch for your Water Trail – Don Wells, Mountain Stewards
Discuss the Planning, Design, and Construction of Launch Sites from the Simplest to the Most Complex
The Mountain Stewards is an all-volunteer Trail Crew that has planned, designed, constructed and maintained over a million dollars of recreational facilities in the North Georgia area in the past decade. Included in these are Water Trail Launch facilities built in three counties. This program will discuss the planning, design and construction of launch facilities from the simplest to the most complex.
Navigating the Snags and Rapids of Permitting – Keith Parsons, Environmental Protection Division (Retired)
Learn the Ins and Outs of the Permits Necessary for Building a Water Trail
Constructing launch sites along the banks of rivers and streams often requires permits and various forms of permission from potentially a myriad of entities, mostly governments at local, state and federal levels. It’s a paper chase, but can be confusing and confounding. This session will look at what permits may be required, who needs to be brought into the process, what may be required for various levels of permitting, and maybe, most importantly, how to design a project that minimizes or entirely avoids the need for certain permits or other legal instruments of permission.
Get the Word Out! Marketing Tools & Resources for your Water Trail – Cheryl Smith, Georgia Dept. of Economic Development
Learn about Ways to Market and Promote Your Water Trail
Learn about ways to market and promote your water trail. Tap into the Georgia Department of Economic Development – Tourism Division’s Programs and Services and learn how the Etowah River Water Trail has successfully marketed their trail through various marketing tools such as social media, brochures, website, maps, signage, kiosks, etc. as well as the costs involved, and resources available.
The event will be three days of learning, inspiration, and fun! Beyond content-rich workshops and keynotes, there will be field trips, mentoring sessions, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, morning yoga, an open mic talent show, and the 2017 River Heroes Banquet and Awards Ceremony. Visit the River Rally page on our website to learn more!
For more information about Weekend For Rivers check out our event page on our website!
River Rally 2017
Don’t miss out on River Rally 2017, held at the Grand Rapids.
Georgia Trail Summit 2017
Georgia Trail Summit registration is now open! The annual gathering will be held April 20-22 in Columbus, GA home of the longest urban whitewater course. Georgia Trail Summit focuses on connecting trails all across Georgia by providing connections, sharing knowledge and furthering the trail projects already happening in Georgia.
The last day to register is April 20th!
Paddle Georgia Youth Auction - Win Some Awesome Columbia Sportswear - ENDS APRIL 16th!
As you know, Georgia River Network (GRN) is a non-profit and depends on the financial support of people just like YOU to get things done! This year GRN will celebrate its 13th annual Paddle Georgia, a week-long paddle trip on a different Georgia river. Over 350 participants will paddle 106 miles of the Etowah River this June. We organize this trip because we've discovered it changes lives, and it furthers our mission to empower others to protect, restore and enjoy Georgia's rivers. But we can't do it without your financial assistance! What makes this auction so special is that all of the items will directly benefit our Paddle Georgia Youth Program.
Through the Paddle Georgia Youth Program we bring 10-12 underserved youth on the journey, most of whom have never been on a river or camped in a tent before. This experience introduces them to the importance of river protection, and also the joys of paddling a river! All of the Columbia brand items were donated by Columbia Sportswear. 100% of the proceeds benefit the youth program.
Support this GREAT cause and visit the auction HERE
Thanks SO much for your support! We really appreciate it!
Little River Hidden Gem Paddle and Campout - May 20-21!
Join us May 20-21 for the Little River Hidden Gem Paddle! What better way to kick off the summer than by paddling through Clarks Hill Wildlife Management Areas, enjoying rustic camping with family and friends, delicious meals from local businesses, and learning more about the native flora, fauna, and cultural history of the Little River? Paddlers will enjoy live music, games, activities and a bonfire. Don’t Miss the Boat!
For more information on this trip and other upcoming Georgia River Network events please click HERE
Paddle Georgia 2017 - Join Us on the Etowah River!
Register now for the 125 mile, 7 day adventure on the Etowah River June 17-23! This trip will include nightly camping with meals and entertainment, tours of historic sites, water monitoring opportunities, and camaraderie with hundreds of fellow paddlers, while also raising awareness for Georgia River Network, Coosa River Basin Initiative and Upper Etowah River Alliance.
The Etowah River is 163-miles long and with 76 native fish species, and is considered one of the most biologically diverse rivers of its size in the country. The river offers more than biological diversity by taking you back in time as you paddle through old Native American fish weirs, ancient Indian mounds, and civil war battle sites.
An educational adventure for the whole family, Paddle Georgia will show you Georgia as you’ve never seen it before.
If 7 days is too more time than you are able to commit, there is another option! Paddle Georgia offers a “Lite Paddler” option, which is an abbreviated trip held only for the first two days, June 17-18.
Registration ends May 31st, for more information and to register click HERE!
The American Trails International Trails Symposium May 7-10, 2017
Registration for the American Trials International Trails Symposium is open now unitl May 6. This Symposium is the largest gathering of proffessionals, managers, and users. The three day long symposium will include educational programs covering a borad range of topics and issues involving trails. The National and International Trail Awards Ceremony will recognize contributions made by volunteers, proffesionals, and other leaders.
Find more information on their website and register today!
Economic Impacts of Water Trails From All Over the Nation
Economic Value of Outdoor Recreation Activities in Iowa- date unknown
Looking at 73 popular river trail segments, the river visiotr survey and other surveys it was estimated that the average visitor spent almost $30 per day. When look at visitor spending at five major lakes in Iowa is was found that visitors spent an average of $67.95-$163.37. The variation in visitor spending is due to the amenities offered at each lake. The more ammenties, the more money spent.
Case Studies of Water Trail Impacts on Rural Communities- 2002
The case study found that paddlers visiting will spend between $27-$63 per day. A paddler on a multi-day trip will spend $88. “Eating and drinking establishments, lodging and camping businesses, retail sales and recreational service industries will see direct economic impacts from water trail paddlers.”
Pennsylvania Recreational Water Trails Economic Impact Study A Four-Trail Case Study-2012
This study looked into the ecconomic impact of water trails and water recreation on four different rivers in Pennsylvania. “The water trail activity generated approximately $318,000 in direct output, $123,000 in indirect output, and $290,000 in induced output, for a total output impact of approximately $731,000.
The Waterway at New River State Park: An Assessment of User Demographics, Preferences, and Economics-2004
The estimated total economic impact of water based activities at the New River State Park was $2,272,000. “…nonlocals account for about 43 percent of all water venue visits, or about 66,331 visits annually. Based on an average expenditure of just over $30.46 per person per visit, nonlocal spending in the four-county economy related to using the NSRP water venue is just over $2 million annually.”
Paddle Tourism Study in North Carolina-2008
It was estimated that paddlers in North Carolina spent $270,075 on local paddling trips and $947,800 on non-local trips. The average paddler spent $503 per party on nonlocal tpaddling trips. “This economic data suggests that paddler recreation and tourism have an impact on local economies as well as the state economy.”
Find more Economic Studies in the Toolkit section of the Water Trails Website!
American Trails: Archived Webinars
Water Trails Accessibility
Presenters: Mike Passo, Doug Alderson, Bob Searns
This Webinar is intended to help water trail managers and outfitters establish access to water trails for people of all abilities. This webinar will guide you through assessing already established water trails and give real life examples of implentation.
Check out this webinar and others in the series!
Water Trail Ambassador and Stewardship Programs
Presenters: Amy Camp, Manager, Jenn Tamo, River People Manager, Brian Marcaurelle
Intresteing in nation wide stewardship programs? Look no further! This webinar is designed to link water trail activites to conservation and stewarship opportunites. The program will give real life examples of programs being used coast to coast.
Sign up today!
Current National Recreation/Water Trails: Make the Most of Your Designation!
Presenters: Rita Hennessy, Lelia Mellen, Sarah Hippensteel Hall
This webniar will help show how current National Recreation and Water Trails have used their recognition to promote their trails. With National Trails Day coming up in June 2017, this webinar will be the perfect tool for promotaional ideaws.
Download this Webinar Today!
Financing and Funding
Funding for trail development can include a significant amount of research.
Rails to Trails has tried to make that easier! They have compiled and explained all the different programs available to help get you started! From federal to private funding sources and everything in between they’ve got all the information you need.
Stop stressing over searching for the right funding, and read through their Financing and Funding page!
Kayaking For Fitness
Kayaking is a low impact activity that will keep your body and mind fit and happy! Paddling.com has pieced together this 2 minute video to show people just how benefical kayaking can be. Paddling is one of the only outdoor recreation sports that focuses on upper body strength, and is the perfect way to get a workout without any added stress to your hips and knees.
Watch the full video on their website!
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