Friday, June 20, 2014

Grab a Paddle: Exploring with the CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER USER'S GUIDE

Running almost the full length of the state of Georgia, the Chattahoochee River is not only the longest river in Georgia, but as Joe Cook puts it, Georgia's "most important, most celebrated, and most fought over body of water." Though the Chattahoochee provides much of Georgia with water, energy, and sanitation, it provides beauty, peace, and activities to all who choose to visit its waters. It begins as a trickle in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains, and quickly grows, traveling south past Atlanta and following the Georgia-Alabama state line all the way to the Florida border.

Shoals Near White Creek, White County. Photo by Joe Cook.
From The Chattahoochee River User's Guide, 2014.
The Chattahoochee River is not only known for its natural majesty, but also its diverse wildlife. In the Georgia River Network Guidebooks, the CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER USER'S GUIDE explains just how vast its biodiversity is:
[I]t gives life to an incredible variety of aquatic animals, including 104 fish species, 24 species of aquatic turtles, 37 species of salamanders and sirens, about 30 species of frogs and toads, and, historically, as many as 45 species of freshwater mussels (Cook 2).
Along with information of the Chattahoochee's many plants and animals, the waterproof CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER USER'S GUIDE follows the river mile by mile, giving travelers a riverside tour guide on their voyage down the river's winding path. This excerpt from the book describes a mile near Alaga, AL:
MILE 403.3 (31.083554, -85.025357) Kirkland Creek. A 0.2-mile journey up this tributary on river left leads you to a beautiful "blue hole"—a spring issuing forth clear, cold water from the Upper Floridan aquifer. This vast underground "lake" provides much of the irrigation water used for agriculture in southwest Georgia, the bread basket of the state. Excessive pumping from this aquifer that feeds south Georgia waterways, especially the Flint River to the east, threatens adequate flows and endangered species—and has exacerbated water conflicts with Florida.
Blue Hole at Kirkland County Creek, Early County. Photo by Joe Cook.
From The Chattahoochee River User's Guide, 2014.