The recent rains may have kept kayaks and canoes off the river, but thanks to the Yellow River Water Trail, Georgians will be able to enjoy the watershed for years to come.
The Yellow River Water Trail is leading conservation efforts in the state, winning the 2014 Outstanding Outreach and Partnership Award from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Adopt-A-Stream program.
“The first step in environmental protection is awareness, and awareness only happens through effective outreach,” the program said in a statement honoring the YRWT. “By getting citizens on and around the river and providing resources to become more engaged, the YRWT is increasing awareness of water quality issues in the watershed.”
The YRWT was singled out for creating a strong network of community partnerships by organizing river cleanups, paddle trips, and water quality monitoring. The YRWT, which provides access to 53 miles of river passing through four counties, also does educational outreach, including presentations on local river wildlife.
Tonya Bechtler, one of the leaders of the YRWT, said the award is important because it recognizes the people who have been working tirelessly for four years.
“We bring the community up close and personal to their back yard rivers, and when you get people to enjoy the river they will want to protect it,” she said. “It’s about awareness, engagement, and future protection.”
The YRWT is currently working with the Georgia River Network and the Northeast Georgia Regional Council to finalize the water trail map, which will be used as a template for the rest of the state.
Bechtler urged anyone wishing to get involved to follow the YRWT on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for upcoming events, or to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.