ddle the Ogeechee on Saturday, July 28. The OCRK-guided trip followed an approximately seven-mile stretch of the Ogeechee River, beginning in Meldrim and ending at Morgan’s Bridge on 204.
Participants arrived at the bridge early Saturday morning, where Ogeechee Outfitter Connie Shreve and OCRK staff ran shuttles of people to the starting point in Meldrim."It’s one of those things, for the past couple of years that we’ve done informally," Chandra Brown, OCRK’s Riverkeeper and executive director said. "It’s always been ‘Hey, we’re going, come if you want to.’ And we always have a lot of peo
ple who show up. So we decided that, since Dianna (Wedincamp) came on staff this spring, we now had another person to help us do something like this. So we said, ‘Let’s just try it out and we’ll go from there.’"
The OCRK crew was impressed with the outcome.
"It was a tremendous response," Brown said. "Including staff and families, we had 58 people that came."
The benefit of having an OCRK-guided tour is the educational aspect that a river naturalist provides during the trip. Brown and her husband paused at one point during the trip to show the entry point where Black Creek enters the Ogeechee, turning the river’s waters a murky black color.
After almost half of the river’s route had been paddled, the group stopped for lunch. While participants munched on the provided lunch, Brown explained some different things going on in the river. She pointed out unnatural algae growth, created by nutrient levels from waste entering the river, as well as some invasive mussels.
"Informally, we always try to provide some educational information," Brown said.
Currently, almost half the stream miles in the Ogeechee watershed fails to meet basic safety standards, she said.
Area development has impacted topsoil erosion, and the filling in of wetlands has caused flooding and polluted runoff into the river.
Brown said OCRK will definitely continue providing future trips now that the interest level is known to be so great. Melanie Hendrix, OCRK’s outreach coordinator, said with so many people interested in this trip, she wonders if maybe they should have a cap-off for future number of participants. Brown said that in order to accommodate so many paddlers, staggered trips might work better, with one group heading out to the river at 8 a.m., another at 9 a.m., and so forth.
"We definitely want to continue doing this. Now we just have to figure out what that means. It definitely wouldn’t be more than four times a year," Brown said. She pointed out that Shreve is always available for trips through Ogeechee Outfitters, any time of the year. But, "as far as a staff guided tour, we’ll probably do it anywhere from two to four times a year, once we can fit it in," Brown said.
Keep your eye out for upcoming OCRK happenings and stay informed about the local watershed at www.ogeecheecanoocheeriverkeeper.org.