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Sat, Oct 12 2019 - Etowah & Chestatee River Volunteer Project: Hiking or Paddling Option + T-Shirt & Riverfront Campfire! (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Charlie Cottingham
Participants:Charlie Cottingham, Lucy, Gloria Colley, Jerry Colley, Gayle M., Lisa W, Huiling, Melissa M, Jean, Jim, Greg Walling, Kevin M, Lisa, Vicky G, Allston, Robin Furman, Robin Walling, Tim W, Jerry K, doug c, KatePJ, Jenny, Mary Reed, Dan Reed, Harry F, John, Nancy L, Elvin Hilyer

Write Up:

A big high five to our 28 AOC volunteers who pitched in with this award-winning Rivers Alive event. It was the 7th year in a row that our Club has helped clean up the lovely upper Etowah River and its "sister" watershed, the Chestatee.  AOCers Elvin & Nancy Hilyer and their son Forest do a fantastic job each October hosting this worthy cleanup project, based at their riverfront home on the Etowah just west of Dahlonega.  The fall weather was blue-sky gorgeous, and as usual after our work was done we enjoyed a festive cookout with the Hilyers and their friends, overlooking the river's huge Chuck Shoals rapids and its sandy beach.

We're
 ably assisted each year by about 100 other volunteers from the Lumpkin Coalition, Trout Unlimited, young college students and dozens of nature lovers of all ages from the general public.  Jointly this month there are in fact thousands of Rivers Alive volunteers working in teams throughout Georgia to remove and dispose of countless pounds of unsightly and unsafe refuse while having tons of fun and fellowship in the process
.

Jerry Kelley, Tim Wigginton and Scott Stephens did a fine job heading up a paddling team to continue our longstanding AOC tradition of cleaning up
 the gorgeous 6-mile upper Etowah river section from Jay Bridge to the Hilyers' home in their own canoes & kayaks.  Despite the recent recent drought and very low water levels they amazed everyone by paddling/dragging out several hundred pounds of debris, including water-laden mattresses and even huge tires - some still inside their heavy rusted steel rims - also numerous bags filled with plastic, glass and metal litter.

I (Charlie) led a second contingent of 16 AOCers, who (like last year) did a paddling cleanup of Dahlonega's Yahoola Reservoir, a.k.a. "Lake Zwerner," which flows into the Chestatee via Yahoola Creek.  Our friend Ben LaChance of Appalachian Outfitters generously provided our fleet of eight big loaner canoes, and it was a pleasure to have a nice college sophomore, Shannon Mullen, work with us with her own kayak.  Ben's friendly river guide, Marshall, and his buddies did an fine job delivering the trailer load of boats, paddles & PFDs to our launching area by the lake and picking them up again 3 hours later, along with all our trash.  Our haul amounted to a couple of hundred pounds of litter, and much of it required climbing out of our boats to retrieve it from the thick brush and woods by the lake.

Special thanks also to our Club's "by-land" walking volunteers who pitched in with their assigned crew to de-litter about a dozen different sections of riverbank terrain, some of them more than 20 miles by car from the Hilyers' home.

Several in our group, including Shannon, took colorful photos which I'll be happy to add to this archive - ideally in the form of "clickable links" to online photo albums. - Submitted by Charlie, Mon Oct 14th