Sept. 8 near Calhoun, Georgia—After today’s paddle, I am now ten miles into the 70-mile long Oostanaula River—and just a few days from the Coosa River. I paddled with the members of the Calhoun-based New Echota Rivers Alliance (NERA), a group that is working to protect the rivers and creeks of Gordon County and surrounding areas.
Among other things, NERA, under the leadership of Dan McBee, leads regular paddle trips on local rivers, educates school children about water pollution and engages citizens in stream monitoring. It was great to be able to meet new people that are passionate about protecting the upper Coosa River Basin.
Once again, a new river brings a new experience. The Oostanaula seems huge compared to the beginnings of the Conasauga. The river is characterized by long stretches of flat water interrupted occasionally by pronounced rock shoals. The banks are often lined with rock faces typical of a river flowing through Georgia’s ridge and valley region.
Today’s trip was especially great because I was able to spend some time with my good friends at Georgia Adopt-A-Stream (AAS). We had our AAS coordinators’ meeting Sept. 7 and many of the coordinators joined me for today’s paddle.
AAS is a volunteer water monitoring program administered by Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division. The AAS program trains citizens to collect and analyze water samples from local streams and rivers. This water testing can help identify pollution problems and helps citizens understand how pollution impacts the health of our creeks and rivers.
Through the years, AAS has trained thousands of Georgians, and many of these trainees go on to “adopt” their very own streams. Last year, CRBI volunteers submitted 110 stream health reports to AAS.
As an AAS coordinator in the Coosa River Basin, I train water monitoring volunteers and assist them when pollution concerns are identified. Recently, one of our volunteers, Richard King of Rome, found extremely low oxygen levels in Little Dry Creek and immediately asked: “What can I do to improve it?”
That’s the beauty of the AAS program. It gets ordinary citizens to keep watch over their creeks and begin asking those type questions. It inspires ordinary citizens with no formal environmental or scientific background to make positive impact on our streams and rivers.
And, the more eyes we have on the ground, the cleaner our local creeks and rivers will become. If you are interested in adopting a stream of your own, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-232-2724.
Amos heads toward Rome on the Oostanaula this week and will finish his journey Sept. 15 on Weiss Lake. Look for details in upcoming blogs about opportunities to meet Amos, see his photos and hear more of his stories. Specific event times and dates will be announced.
Readers can also make donations to support Amos’ Odyssey and CRBI’s education efforts at www.coosa.org/events/amos-odyssey.