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Hit the river with Ogeechee Riverkeeper


April 19, 2016

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    Ogeechee Riverkeeper has opened its second monthly paddle-trip program, inviting paddle enthusiasts of all skill levels to experience the Southern “blackwater” river sights, observe wildlife and meet other eco-minded area residents out on the Ogeechee River. 
    Ogeechee Riverkeeper — which is tasked with preserving and protecting the Ogeechee, Canoochee and coastal rivers — encourages all members to register and take part in monthly paddle trips at no cost beyond their original membership. The cost to non-members is $35, which includes a one-year membership, plus an optional $30 for canoe rental or $20 for kayak rental.
    “We’re thrilled to launch another season of paddle trips on the fourth Saturday of each month beginning in March,” Watershed Outreach Coordinator Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman said. “We had such an amazing time with everyone who came out last year, we knew a second round was in order. It’s a great, inexpensive way to experience so much natural beauty in a short period of time. We expect some big groups to hit the water with us, and it should be a lot of fun.”
    Participants will embark on tranquil journeys that boast facets of exploration, education and relaxation., according to Demonbreun-Chapman. Each fourth Saturday, paddlers meet at 9 a.m. at a designated location to acquaint themselves with the Ogeechee River basin’s four sub-watersheds. Each trek necessitates about three to four hours of paddling, plus an hour for lunch, and features a guide who will share knowledge of the locale’s wildlife and nature.
    Those interested in joining a trip must register at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org by 4 p.m. on the day before departure. No registrations or rentals will be accepted after the deadline.
    Paddlers should bring a lunch and snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, water shoes or old sneakers (avoid flip-flops and sandals) and dry bags to store keys and phones. Although outings may be altered due to weather forecasts and/or water levels, Ogeechee Riverkeeper has the following trips planned:
 
    ▲ April 23 — Scarboro Landing to Rocky Ford: Paddlers will enjoy this 7-mile stretch, which boasts constantly changing routes due to tide fluctuations. Difficulty level: intermediate.
    ▲ May 28 — George L. Smith State Park: This trek for the whole family takes paddlers through an enchanting, submerged forest. Camping the night before the trip is an option. Difficulty level: beginner.
    ▲ June 25 — Morgan’s Bridge to the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal: This 9-mile trip will take participants through some of the Ogeechee’s more labyrinthine passages. Difficulty level: intermediate 
    ▲ July 23 — Oliver to River Retreat: Tall and fallen trees dot this 9-mile stretch between Statesboro/Brooklet and Guyton/Springfield, giving paddlers some sun protection while keeping them on their toes. Difficulty level: intermediate.   
    ▲ Aug. 27— Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge: The paddle will begin at the refuge and wind through marshland filled with dolphins, spoonbills, crabs and osprey. Difficulty level: beginner.
    ▲ Sept. 24 – Wadley to Coleman Lake: Seven miles of narrow twists and turns let paddlers get a feel for the Ogeechee’s strength and speed.  Difficulty level: beginner to intermediate.
    ▲ Oct. 22 — Butterbean Beach: Paddlers will enjoy a leisurely day exploring the Skidaway Narrows, the Branches and Pigeon Island. Difficulty level: beginner.

    In addition to continuing the paddle trip program, Ogeechee Riverkeeper will return with a second series of “News and Views” events. The periodic meet-and-greet socials allow community members to learn more about and get involved in the organization’s work. 
    For more information about paddle trips, “News and Views” events, ORK membership and other volunteer opportunities, email Demonbreun-Chapman at jesse@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org or call 866-942-6222, ext. 2, or visit www.ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.

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